Konstrukcija identiteta i medijski tekst: reprezentacija urbanih transformacija Beograda u muzičkom videu
Identity construction and media text: representation of Belgrade's urban transformations in music videos
Committee membersDragićević Šešić, Milena
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IDENTITY CONSTRUCTION AND MEDIA TEXT: Representation of Belgrade’s urban transformations in music videos SUMMARY i Opening remarks Focusing on the way in which Belgrade featured in music videos of various genres (produced from 1980 to 2010) I have tried to open up a fresh perspective on its urban and social transformations. The beginning of this period saw Belgrade as the capital of a socialist multi-national federation; its final years saw the city as the capital and cultural centre of a (mono)national state with underdeveloped capitalist economy (along with the ‘war consequences’ and social price to be paid for this transformation.) Using a production sample of 4733 music videos, I have explored the ‘language’ of representation of Belgrade’s cityscape in this media form as one possible clue to understanding the processes of identity (re)construction, narratives of belonging and cultural divisions in the Serbian society. As this study argues, observed in the context of popular ...media industry, these narratives are unjustifiably absent from academic considerations, which makes them a fruitful field for future research of cultural developments in the post-socialist Balkans. ii Methodological considerations discuss the existing academic sources (or lack thereof in the Serbian context), analytical tools for this study, and methodological difficulties in approaching music videos as complex semiotic systems. iii What’s all this for? attempts to provide a precise answer to the question I PINK CHAPTER: Belgrade as the melting pot of cultural models Introduction: Musical taste as capital and weapon discusses the bourdieuean assumptions of musical taste as both a form of symbolic capital and weapon in the ‘low-intensity’ culture wars, where musical affinities may provide (arbitrary) pretexts for social divisions and symbolic violence. According toHerbert Gans, the critique of mass culture is often biased, self-serving and oriented to the interests of high culture alone and to the maximization of its power and resources. High culture advocates are entitled (as anyone else) to be self-serving, but they have no right to mask their interests as public and suggest that society as a whole ought to be organized around the efforts to advance ‘the fortunes of high culture’. Such observations become all the more revealing when transposed into societies (e.g. Serbian) which lack a firm consensus on ‘legitimate culture’, and wherein various forms of ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture often swap their roles and prerogatives. i Cultural models of the socialist self-management system Focus of the ‘pink’ chapter is the dynamics of transformation of cultural models in the Serbian society, wherein the ‘newly-composed folk music’ (novokomponovana narodna muzika, later turbo-folk) claimed a specific role and importance – as a ‘symptom’ of sharpest social divisions and most visible paradoxes. Sociological studies of ‘life styles’ in the Yugoslav socialist society generally assumed that the main social strata markedly differentiated according to the interests, classconsciousness and value orientations of the population. The initial post-socialist period of ‘transition’ (1990s) saw the apparent ‘melting’ of this structure (and thus conceptualized stratification) of the Serbian society into a new hierarchy of cultural models wherein the populist (‘newly-composed’) claimed increasing importance. Contrary to the scholarship from the socialist period (which persistently kept this cultural model at the fringes of academic concerns), it was ultimately recognized as ‘highly influential and probably the most widespread cultural model in the post-war Yugoslavia’. (The term ‘newlycomposed’ comes from the significance attached to consumption of ‘newly-composed folk music’.) ii ‘Newly-composed’ cultural model However disputed by the socialist officials and banned from the educational system, this cultural model was well integrated in the Yugoslav cultural and mass media systems (television, radio, record industry, concert venues…) The key to its mass popularity was seen in the successful blending of the traditional (folkloric) and new urban myths. The ‘newly-composed’ folk singers were held in highest esteem, but this was generally assumed to be the case exclusively among the rural population. However, although scarce, research of the urban audiences often contradicted this assumption. iii ‘Newly-composed folk music’ and cultural politics Since the end of the World War II the official cultural politics of the socialist Yugoslavia went through different (often contradictory) phases in its approach to the folkloric traditions of Yugoslav ‘nations and nationalities’, and to the village and ‘rural ways’ in general. This ultimately shaped the perception of the ‘original’ traditional (izvorna) and the ‘newly-composed’ (novokomponovana) folk music as opposite poles in assessment of the legacies of traditional rural cultures and their ‘second life’ in the modern society. Release of Lepa Lukić’s single Od izvora dva putića (1964) marked a symbolical beginning of the new era of commercial expansion of the ‘newly composed folk music’ (NCFM). Reforms associated with introduction of workers’ self-management into the Yugoslav economy also resulted in ‘democratization’ of the popular music production: the newly-established elements of market economy turned the attention of record companies towards commercially successful performers, and those were mainly the singers of NCFM. Their output was a powerful economic factor which connected record companies from different ends of Yugoslavia and shaped its music industry. Nevertheless, the concept of ‘culture’ in a socialist society stood for accessibility, humanist principles and, above all, artistic values. The ideology of progress imposed upon the ‘evolving’ revolutionary peasantry a need of modern cultural institutions. It was expected not only to depart from its ‘traditional ways’ and embrace modern(ized) and urban(ized) modes of cultural consumption, but also to develop appreciation for art. In this aspect of cultural consumption the ‘centaurs of Yugoslav economy’ (peasantsindustrial workers) most visibly failed to meet the guidelines of the socialist cultural policies. The overwhelming presence and importance of NCFM (both in rural and urban areas) became the most visible symptom of this cultural ‘underachievement’. In Yugoslavia, NCFM had a ‘past’, but not a ‘history’, of which it was perceived as ‘undeserving’. This attitude reflects a culturally specific perception of history as an exclusive domain of ‘cultural value’. The observers of the phenomenon typically ‘distanced themselves’ from the core audiences of NCFM, adopting the position of ‘outsiders’ with no active participation in its consumption. Those ‘in charge’ (including the Adornian critics of mass culture) labeled this music as a caricature of mass culture and ultimate instance of surrogate for an authentic culture (opposed, as such, to the idealized notion of ‘pure, original folk songs’). The end product was perceived as ‘fake folklore’– or, rather, ‘fakelore’– and normally tagged as kitsch or schund. This assessment brought about anti-schund legal acts, special tax rates for the products of NCFM industry and occasional campaigns aimed at ‘decontamination’ of cultural life in the country from pulp and distasteful music forms. These lofty efforts included occasional commissions of ‘new folk songs’ from respectable professional composers. Composers of NCFM were denied membership in official professional associations, but that ‘discrimination’ had no considerable effects on their income. Affluence of ‘folk stars’ was the most visible deviation from the official doctrines and work ethos of the socialist society. As such, folk celebrities were always eagerly criticized ‘in public’. Furthermore, commercialization of the Yugoslav music industry was in head-on clash with the major goal of the official cultural policies – ‘historical process of abolishing market culture’ – serving as a constant reminder of their discrepancies. iv Belgrade – capital of NCFM Social and economic systems of the socialist Yugoslavia encouraged mass migration from villages into towns and cities, and rapid development of urban centers. Belgrade, its capital, found itself in the apex of these migratory processes. This rapid urbanization was seen as bringing about ‘social and cultural continuity between the village and the city’. Musical taste of the urban population (commercial success of folk music in all social categories, especially among Belgraders) was found to be the most conspicuous manifestation of this continuity. v Genesis of the genre In this subchapter we look at the main thematic concerns of the ‘newly-composed’ folk songs, historical development of this music genre and its most prominent figures, and discuss the relations between traditional and modern elements which contributed to its popularity. vi From ‘turban folk’ to ‘turbo folk’ During the 1980s, the Serbian-Bosnian music production Južni vetar (Southern Wind) established a particular mode of ‘orientalization’ of Yugoslav folk music idioms. Routinely attacked by the cultural ‘gatekeepers’ and advocates of ‘authenticity’ in folk music as the most striking exponents of ‘oriental kitsch’ – the stars of Južni vetar nevertheless enjoyed enormous popularity and a firm fan base. The last days of socialist Yugoslavia (along with the collapse of its institutions) saw the ‘oriental’ aspect of this music identified with ‘otherness’– a cultural threat for various ‘threads’ of the Yugoslav ‘ethnic carpet’. Gastarbeiters (low-income Yugoslav workforce ‘imported’ by wealthy Western countries) were considered to be the main ‘conduit’ of incorporation of Oriental music influence into the Yugoslav ‘newly-composed’ folk music. Though ostensibly a specifically Yugoslav phenomenon, this ‘oriental controversy’ had parallels in other countries of the Balkans and Middle East e.g. Bulgaria, Turkey or Israel. With the dissolution of socialist Yugoslavia and armed conflicts throughout its former territory, the already well-elaborated discourse of ‘newly-composed contamination’ assumed a new political context. In Serbia, attempts at ‘de-orientalization’ of Serbian folk music obtained firm political ground. In the changing social circumstances NCFM also acquired a new name – turbo folk. As a hybrid music genre and media phenomenon the ‘oriental’ turbo folk was panned from all sides: by academics, politicians, media professionals, rock musicians, pop stars and folk singers. In the Serbian context, contemporary forms of ‘contaminated’ (over-exposed to foreign influence) folk music thus came to be seen as ‘ideological shorthand’ in public debates on ‘legitimate’ aspects of national culture. vii General notes on turbo folk In Serbia, gradual incorporation of elements ‘borrowed’ from contemporary genres of Western popular music into the existing forms of NCFM resulted in ‘turbo folk’ marked by its escapist and commercial concerns, and liberal exchange with other countries of the Balkans and Middle East. At this point we discuss the characteristics it shares with other genres of popular music throughout the (Third) world, its hypothetical origins and main phases of development in Belgrade, production infrastructure that built up its media prominence, and its key exponents. We also focus on the styles and outlooks of the most assertive urban consumers of turbo folk in the 1990s (dizelaši). viii Turbo folk as a social issue Due to its heavy media exposure in the 1990s turbo folk was seen by many as ‘camouflage’ for the harsh social reality in Serbia (UN sanctions, armed conflicts with the neighboring countries of former Yugoslavia, economic downfall) with the ‘pink’ imagery of compulsive entertainment. As the ‘soundtrack’ of the regime of Slobodan Milošević it was seen as music for gangsters and all those who made a fortune (backed by the authorities) through their ‘efforts’ at the war front. This music (and bad taste associated with it) was seen as a generator of violence and chauvinism imposing the patriarchal order and other aspects of Serbia’s cultural and moral demise. Even the international admirers of turbo folk saw in it ‘an intimate relationship between music and terrorism’. Cultural officials of Milošević’s regime (naturally) became aware of the bad reputation associated with patronage of turbo folk. However, complaints from the opposite side of the political spectrum did not differ considerably from the rhetoric of the Ministry of Culture. This brought about an observation that in public debates ‘turbo folk’ normally stands for more than a genre of music or entertainment: right-wing critics typically claim that TF corrupts the Serbian national identity instead of boosting it in times of crisis, while the left-wing blames TF for boosting Serbian nationalism when it rather should be suppressed. In the regional (post-Yugoslav) context, turbo folk operates as a ‘conceptual category which aggregates connotations of banality, foreigness, violence and kitsch in order to provide a critical apparatus with a ready-made strategy of distancing’ – a variant of ‘nesting orientalism’. Each cultural barricade raised against TF is seen as a measure against a ‘threat’ from the East. On the other hand, during the conflicts in former Yugoslavia, popularity of the same celebrities on both sides of the frontline disproved the chauvinist premises attached to turbo folk. In spite of all the slander, turbo folk effectively crossed ethnic barriers. Accordingly, it came to be seen as a rare instance of (conscious or not) re-interpretation of the old ‘Ottoman Commonwealth style’ cosmopolitanism. Thus ‘critics of the critics’ regard turbo folk as the ‘only authentic Serbian pop music’, utterly misperceived as a product of Milošević’s criminal regime. Moreover, ‘the turbo folk issue’, its understanding and valuation illuminate Serbia’s key political problem: incapacity of the liberal elites to communicate with the major segment of the population they aspire to lead. ix Belgrade – capital of turbo folk Architectural Encyclopedia of Belgrade detects the presence of turbo-architecture, style defined as a ‘malignant variety of postmodernism’. Glamorous villas of the nouveau riche (graced with arbitrarily combined elements of remote origins in ancient Rome and Ottoman Anatolia) are seen as striking manifestations of both the arrogance and self perception of the political, war profiteering and show business ‘elites’. Those ‘fairytale castles’ have also been described as ‘arias of the Serbian architectural soap opera’. The uncultured world of turbo folk is over-populated by young women in super-mini skirts who live in super-big houses, drive super-expensive cars, and spend their time in fancy hotel bars. According to the close observers of the phenomenon, this turbo-folk glitterserves an additional ideological purpose: rendered in glamorous and romantic hues, lifestyles of the new criminalized elites become normal, acceptable i.e. legitimate. x Turbo folk in the post-Milošević period First years of the new millennium in Serbia were marked by the difficult political, economic and social ‘legacy’ of the Milošević period, which obstructed the processes of institutional transformation of the society and change of its dominant values. The tabloids did replace the exponents of the ‘old regime’ with new personalities, but their content still prominently features turbo folk celebrities. Mass culture continues to be used as an instrument of pacifying the increasingly frustrated and aggressive ‘masses’. As a result, Serbian culture (and the overall society) is still overwhelmingly populist. On the other hand, criticism of turbo folk remains a standard element of the ‘discourse of power’, at all levels. Thus turbo folk appears to be ‘the only victim’ of the ‘democratic revolution’, made to obscure the effective ideological and pragmatic continuity between the pre- and post-2000 governments. Nevertheless, media appearances of turbo folk stars who occasionally make ‘unexpected’ liberal, gay-friendly or anti-nationalist statements support the observation that turbo folk claims a specific, ambivalent position in the contemporary Serbian culture: it is at the same time its dominant mainstream and ‘hidden subversion’, graced even with ‘radical potential’. Moreover, turbo folk’s ‘trans-national’ sampling of the contemporary and ethnic music of often conflicting Balkan ‘tribes’ is acknowledged for its beneficial and pacifying effects. Through these lenses turbo folk is observed as a vehicle of ‘reconciliation and tolerance’ in the Balkans. xi Cultural models of the transition era Researchers of cultural models propose a new typology, prevalent in the Serbian society after the year 2000: a) urban-ethnic b) urban-globalist c) sensationalist d) rural-spectacular which can be observed as a ‘successor’ to the populist (‘newly-composed’) cultural model (fused with the agro-cultural model and certain elements of drug users’ and delinquents’ subcultures present in the previously discussed typologies of the socialist period). This typology shows that only c) sensationalist cultural model is not laid out along the axis ‘urban-rural’. New research in cultural sociology distinguishes four symbolical ‘battlefields’ in Serbia: 1) the educated against the uneducated; 2) urban groups against the rural and recently ‘urbanized’; 3) ‘cultured’ North against ‘uncultured’ South; 4) ‘cosmopolitans’ vs. ‘patriots’ – arguing that all these cultural opposites have clear political consequences. Contrary to the processes in the French society discussed by Pierre Bourdieu, the major ‘clash’ of lifestyles does not take place between the proponents of elite and popular culture, and high culture does not claim the status of ‘legitimate’ culture a priori. In Serbia, the main ‘frontline’ is the axis global-local, differentiating between two respective types of cultural capital. Their holders struggle to promote their cultural resources as legitimate. In that sense, the opening quote for the ‘pink’ chapter from the turbo folk star Mira Škorić (‘Turbo folk rules!’) may be read as a claim to legitimacy of an ambivalent and contested, yet overwhelming cultural paradigm in the Serbian society. BELGRADE IN THE SHADES OF PINK maps the dominant modes of representation of Belgrade’s cityscape in music videos of the neo folk (NCFM and turbo folk) genre, and their transformations in the period 1980-2010 II BLACK CHAPTER: Belgrade as the ‘city of resistance’ i Divide and Conquer: beginnings of rock’n’roll in Belgrade After the difficult years of post-WWII reconstruction of the country, rock’n’roll ‘invaded’ Belgrade almost instantly. Rock culture was perceived as the first opportunity for the young generations to express themselves in ‘authentic’ and truly ‘own’ manners. In socialist Yugoslavia, from the beginnings in the late 1950s, a place in this culture implied ‘social distinction’, but also a position in the underlying conflict between the ‘cool’ (self-aware ‘cosmopolitans’) and the ‘uncool’ (politically conformist ‘provincials’). ii Who could resist not to resist?: rock’n’roll in the arsenal of the Cold War Back in 1958 NATO Revue militaire générale already explained how jazz and rock’n’roll might be used in the war against communism: the more time teenagers in communist countries dedicate to Little Richard, the less time they have to read Marx and Lenin. In the case of socialist Yugoslavia, according to Time magazine ‘Half Karl & Half Groucho Marx country’, such estimations turned out to be true. Throughout Eastern Europe, incorporation of jazz and rock in the official media systems served two main ideological purposes: control over the segment of the younger population openly (or not) opposed to the ‘socialist reality’, and demonstration (to the West) of the merits of socialist democracy. In the East, ‘high tolerance’ for rock’n’roll was typically criticized as blind glorification of the American Dream, out of place in the socialist societies. In the West, rockers from the East were often perceived as ‘rebels with a cause’, evidence that younger generations behind the Curtain ‘reclaim’ the Western values. In Yugoslavia, youth Party cadre soon realized that rock’n’roll may become a welcome asset for political mediation. As one of the first truly global phenomena, thus accommodating to the doctrine of brotherhood and unity of all Yugoslav nations and nationalities, rock’n’roll was acknowledged as a medium of cultural integration of the country’s heterogeneous population. Rock acts, accordingly, found their place in the official political ceremonies and institutional frameworks of the cultural system. Yugoslav authorities thus ‘maintained control’, while avoiding the risks of underground scenes, illegal clubs and black record markets. In turn, this ‘openness’ contributed to the positive image cultivated by Yugoslavia’s foreign relations policy of indiscriminate cooperation with the East, West and ‘non-aligned world’. As a result, this rather specific situation informed two opposite retrospective views on the (political) significance of rock culture in the socialist Yugoslavia: 1) due to its full incorporation ‘into the system’ popular culture was not (and could by no means become) a viable platform for communicating social dissent; 2) Yugoslav rock’n’roll was ‘much more than just music’: it was a prime medium of reflection on the ideals of the socialist federation and ‘critic’ of the discrepancies between the officially proclaimed and real ‘matters of fact’ in the country. iii Who killed Bambi?: ‘jaranization’ of rock’n’roll and ‘white socks discourse’ The discussion of the assertive incorporation of local folk music elements into the Yugoslav rock’n’roll (e.g. by Bijelo dugme from Sarajevo) familiarized us with the socalled ‘white socks discourse’ – controversies around the mythical status of ‘frontline peasants’ in the Serbian society. Dominant stereotypes regarding the lifestyle of newcomers into the city form a significant part of the Serbian popular culture, with wide implications on the political debates (as is the case in other Balkan countries). Depending on audience and context, attributing guilt to urban peasants often comes in the same ‘package’ with demonization of Others. Serbian urban elites have relatively recent ‘roots’ in the village. The line dividing the ‘urban’ from the ‘rural’ is elusive and lack of clear distinctions comes to be seen as a symptom of the overall underdevelopment of the society. The clash between ‘mud’ and ‘asphalt’ is its central dichotomy. Claiming superiority of urban ‘asphalt’ over rural ‘mud’, this metaphor also implies that mud and asphalt should always remain separated. Urbocentric exclusivism generates social divisions centered on the notion of (in essence mythical) city of the self-conscious, educated, cultivated and well-mannered... In these conflicts, ‘urbanity’ is the most effective resource of distinction and superiority over the ‘others’. iv Oil on the water: rock’n’roll as an elite art form in the socialist society Rock cultures in socialist Yugoslavia had a considerably different logic of development from their Western models and counterparts, nevertheless that slightly paradoxical logic involved (from the outset) both ‘egalitarianism’ and ‘distinction’. The latter referred to possession of generally expensive and unavailable records, gramophones, instruments or studio equipment, and access to the media i.e. publicity. Belgrade’s rock pioneers did not consider themselves as ‘artists’ and they barely even spoke English, lingua franca of rock’n’roll’. In harmony with a global development in rock culture – convergence with contemporary art – rock’n’roll came to be dominated by distinct personalities with artistic aspirations articulated in the domains of ‘alternative’ and ‘counter-cultural’. In the late socialist Yugoslavia, rock’n’roll came to be seen as a form of ‘high art’. However, Belgrade’s ‘alternative art / music scene’, with its symbolical centre – SKC (Student Cultural Centre), should not be observed outside the context of the already discussed institutional clinch of ‘informal’ and ‘organized’. v Subterranean Jungle: subcultures and underground discusses the ‘flexible’ (often orbitrary) academic definitions and interpretations of specific (music-related) subcultural groups in the late socialist society: Belgrade Punks Belgrade’s ‘new romantics’ The ‘newly-composed’ subculture In other words, how listening to the NCFM came to be seen as a ‘subcultural’ phenomenon Turbo folk underground In other words, how reception of NCFM / turbo folk oscillated between complete ignorance on the part of pop-cultural journalism to (mis)interpretations of ‘folk’ phenomena through concepts adopted from the ‘alternative rock’ discourse vi Painted Black: The Fall of Rock’n’Roll or From Kebra* to Keba** in 80 days Like in other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, rock music industry during and after the dissolution of Yugoslavia went through deep and troublesome changes. At this point we discuss these transformations and controversies surrounding the mythical status of rock music (and Western popular music genres in general) as the ‘last line of defense’ of Serbia’s urban culture. Defense against turbo folk, that is. * Branislav Babić Kebra, frontman of the alternative rock band Obojeni program from Novi Sad ** Dragan Kojić Keba, turbo folk star vii Distinction: popular music in the arsenal of culture wars in Serbia Bourdieuian sociologists have diagnosed one ‘chronic condition’ of the Serbian society – absence of legitimate upper class i.e. ‘elite’, which is attributed to the historical turbulences and discontinuities in the overall development of the society. The lack of consensus on the question what legitimate (high) culture is or should be means that the ‘merits’ and competencies of the highest cultural officials are constantly (and often arbitrarily) contested. In these low-intensity conflicts, the realm of popular music becomes a battleground and loudspeaker of deepest social cleavages and most passionate debates. In the Serbian context, rock’n’roll had different connotations throughout its history: from ‘distinction’, urbanity, alignment with bourgeoisie etc. to symptoms of ‘unfinished modernization’ – associated both with social divisions and social conformism. BELGRADE PAINTED BLACK maps the dominant modes of representation of Belgrade’s cityscape in rock music videos, and their transformations in the period 1980-2010 III GREY CHAPTER: La haine et les autres crimes or Belgrade as a ‘ghetto’ i What is a ghetto? discusses the problematic definitions and use of the term in scholarship and popular culture ii Short history of grafitti in Belgrade traces the historical trajectory of influence, from Julio 204 and Taki 183 to New Belgrade’s hip-hop grafitti artists iii Hip-hop and social issues discusses the controversial social role of hip-hop in the contemporary American culture iv Wiggas discusses the global phenomenon of ‘white niggers’ as participants and consumers of hiphop culture, and its local-specific manifestations in the Serbian hop-hop The paradigmatic media personality reflecting on the wigga phenomenon, Ali G (Sasha Baron Cohen) gives a part of the answer to the question how New Belgrade, formerly known as a socialist ‘collective dorm’, became a post-socialist ‘ghetto’. v New Belgrade as a ‘dorm’ New Belgrade was initially conceived as the representative seat of government of a new country – socialist Yugoslavia. However, the status of the new capital gradually changed according to the political transformations and economic conditions in the Yugoslav federation. Becoming a predominantly residential area, New Belgrade still remained a model modernist town, a ‘mark of distinction’ for Yugoslavia’s architectural profession which made considerable efforts to distinguish its output from the commonplaces of socialist architecture in the Eastern Bloc. However, during the ‘golden age’ of its socialist expansion (1960s and 1970s) New Belgrade also acquired a reputation for its ‘boredom’ (lack of content other than apartment blocks). This all changed with the ‘transitional’ 1990s and overall transformations of the political and economic systems in the (considerably diminished) country. New Belgrade’s degraded ‘projects’ became a metaphor for the demise of the socialist Yugoslavia and its modernist ideals, (all too) often seen as the ‘heart of darkness’ of the isolated and criminalized Serbia. vi New Belgrade as a ‘ghetto’ Since the beginning of the 1990s diagnosis of a ‘closed society’, Serbia’s (justified or not) isolation from the rest of the world and ‘life in the ghetto’ had become dominant themes in Serbian cinema and large portion of popular culture. Ghetto is a metaphor for the victims of transition – those who failed to find a proper place in the new (capitalist) economy. Within Serbia conceived as a ‘great ghetto’ one part of Belgrade acquired a mythical aura of the ‘super-ghetto’: New Belgrade, seen as the paradigmatic banlieue défavorisée. vii Ghetto blasting in Serbia outlines the historical development and main specificities of the Serbian hip-hop scene viii Is New Belgrade a ghetto ‘for real’? With the political (and especially economy-related) changes in Serbia after the year 2000, New Belgrade became a municipality with the highest GDP in the Serbian capital, a privileged location for foreign investments and new housing developments. This question now begs an easy answer: obviously not. ‘See You In The Obituary in the Crime City’: BELGRADE IN THE COLORS OF CONCRETE discusses the genre specificities and maps the dominant modes of representation of Belgrade’s cityscape in hip-hop videos IV GREEN CHAPTER: ‘White Lamb and Red Fez’: Invention of Tradition i Two names of one music discusses the two terms referring to the (more or less) same music phenomenon: 1) World Music 2) Ethno ii Inventing tradition: back to the peasant footwear When the opposition ‘urban-rural’ is observed from the perspective of contrasts and conflicts between traditional and modern cultures, in the debates characteristic for the post-socialist Balkans the village is often attributed with symbolism of ‘healthy’ (unspoiled) life, grounded in traditions and folklore. As for Serbia, the ‘usual suspects’ for the crime of abandoning this ‘true’ life is the generation of ‘bourgeois peasants’ – centaurs of Yugoslav economy already discussed in the Pink Chapter. As spokesmen (if not inventors) of the Volkgeist embodied in idealized peasantry, Balkan intellectuals often dismiss these ‘half wits’ as ‘riders of the cultural apocalypse’. Their guilt is furthermore attributed to ‘communism’ and degradation of religion: everything preceding this historic demise tends to be rendered in idyllic hues. Images of the ‘golden age’ of national past, often haphazardly created by the media and official culture (for mass consumption) raise many questions about their purpose in the Serbian society, where each generation claims new cultural forms, ‘imported’ from the West and crossbred with the existing (traditional) patterns. At this point we discuss the role of folkloristic traditions in the romanticist legacy of Serbian nationalism, and orientalist / balkanist discourses attached to their contemporary ‘revivals’. Intermezzo 1 iii On the past that ceased to be and the future that is no more Political culture in Serbia had long retained its pre-modern, patriarchal features: political parties were perceived as ‘families’ – their leaders as father-figures. The socialist regime was not succeeded by the ‘rule of democracy’, but a ‘new order’ pursuing the interests of the ethno-national majority. The focus and primary concern of its ethnically defined cultural politics is the traditionally conceived concept of national identity, which excludes critical assessment of the national past as something undesirable and harmful for the national interests. Prerogatives of this ‘organized oblivion’ are visibly assumed by the state: in the post-1990s Serbia this brought about a lack of consensus on major social and ethical values. Politically, Serbia is a battlefield of competing champions of the national cause who seek mass support for their often elusive agendas. One of the most powerful ‘weapons’ in this battle is popular culture adorned in folkloric ornaments. This imagery of invented traditions blurs past and future with equal efficiency: it holds captive both the ‘ordinary’ citizens and the political ‘elites’ in Serbia by the past that ‘never was’. iv Le Mystère des Voix Balkanes or On the politics of folklore discusses the specificities of ‘Balkan’ nationalism and politics of folklore, with an emphasis on the official policies of socialist and post-socialist Bulgaria v Ivan Čolović revisits the ‘Ethnoland’ discusses the ‘ethno village’ as a mental construct of the ‘new’ (post-Yugoslav), urban Serbia, detached from the harsh realities of village life and exclusively concerned with ‘aestheticization’ of the (rural) national past vi The most remote suburb of Belgrade discusses the music festival in Guča as an instance of ‘invented traditions’ and issues of identity politics in Balkan ‘world music’ from the Serbian perspective Intermezzo 2 Imaginary landscapes of the lost homeland: BELGRADE IN GREEN or From the tradition of the VIS* to the tradition of the KUD**: back to the roots 1) Folklorismus as a cultural hybrid or ‘spice in every soup’ describes the omnipresent use of folklore in the rock scenes of Yugoslavia and Serbia after the dissolution of SFRY 2) Folklorismus as Hochkultur Continuity in attempts to introduce Serbian folkloric elements into the realm of ‘high’ (national) culture discloses a longue durée historical process whereby aspects of popular culture claim a position and status of (previously non-existing) ‘elite’ culture according to the (Western) European standards. At this point we explore how the visual language of music videos ‘made in Serbia’ reflects this historical process. In this chapter the analysis shifts from the images of ‘real’ (visible) Belgrade to the imaginary (invisible) cityscapes of Belgrade perceived as a mythical rural place of origin * vokalno-instrumentalni sastav = rock band ** kulturno-umetničko društvo = folklore ensemble of the contemporary city and its inhabitants. The focus is on the ‘identity politics’ of representation of the dominant (national) culture as opposed to the representations of minority cultures. V BLUE-YELLOW CHAPTER: Eurosong as New Tradition i Opening notes on Eurosong describe the specificities of Eurovision Song Contest / Concours Eurovision de la Chanson as a unique media event ii Eurosong in the historical perspective outlines the history and political implications of ESC during and after the Cold War iii Criticism and controversies discusses the main points of dissent and academic debates addressing the ESC iv ‘Us’ and Eurosong discusses the strategies of representation at the ESC and ‘identity politics’ in its reception in socialist Yugoslavia and post-Yugoslav states v Branding of identity: Case Study Ruslana takes a close look at Ukraine’s winning ESC 2004 entry and discusses its ‘identity politics’ vi Camping on the borders of Europe At this point we look at the Eurovision Song Contest from the perspective of ‘symbolical production in the age of techno-cultural modernization’. From that perspective, hosting of the ESC represents a ‘maturity test’ for every nation-state aspiring to full participation in the symbolical production of post-industrial modernity. This helps us understand the ‘paradox’ of how a tacky song contest, seen in most of ‘old Europe’ as a ‘blasé joke’, may become a matter of national importance and interest in Europe’s ‘borderlands’ (Serbia included), with their often ambivalent attitudes towards the ‘shared European identity’. As for the Balkans, it could be argued that Balkan nations have always attempted to compensate for their geo-political and geo-cultural marginality in the wider European context with certain modes of ideological self-representation. Their main point, insistence on nation’s ‘authenticity’ and difference from the neighbours, displays a historical continuity which encompasses the matters of representation at the Eurovision Song Contest. Intermezzo vii From self-orientalisation to kusturization and back (to Brazil) discusses the distinct strategies of national self-representation in Eurovision music videos ‘made in Serbia’ 1) Brazil or strategy of ‘kusturization’ Case study: Bebi Dol, Brazil (Yugoslavia, 1991) 2) Lane moje or ‘ethno-boutique strategy’ Case study: Željko Joksimović, Lane moje (Serbia and Montenegro, 2004) 3) Molitva or strategy of ‘no strategy’ Case study: Marija Šerifović, Molitva (Serbia, 2007) BELGRADE IN BLUE-YELLOW HUES or STRATEGY OF CAMOUFLAGE describes the development of Eurovision’s own music video genre (ESC postcards), its dominant modes of representation of the host cities, and the way in which Belgrade remained ‘invisible’ for the TV viewers as the host of ESC 2008. CONCLUSION Conventions of media representation reproduce the ideological assumptions pertaining to social identity: those assumptions are articulated through the discourses and narratives of belonging, connectedness and/or exclusion. At times, they are being conceptually called into question by media professionals, but more often than not conventional modes of representation are taken for granted and automatically reproduced. They offer ‘readymade’ answers to the questions who the protagonists are (in the social hierarchy), what makes them ‘different’ from their peers, what makes them ‘ordinary’ and ‘same’ as their audiences, whom they address (or not)... These representational formulas rely on firm notions of clearly defined and unambiguous divisions between ‘us’ and ‘them’ in one society. The ‘problem’ with the cultural system (and society as a whole) in Serbia is that the social cleavages as reflected on and represented by the popular media (music video included) (too) drastically depart from the reality of social divisions. As demonstrated by this study, in the realm of post-socialist transformation of the cultural systems, the discourses and narratives of deep divisions, sharp differences and firm identities have constantly been challenged by the social reality. The music industry in Serbia is largely undifferentiated, its internal oppositions are often imaginary, and the hyper-production of discourses and narratives of difference indicates their ‘true’ purpose: they serve as ideological shorthand in the processes of re-structuring and re-stratification of a society in changing economic, political and social circumstances, playing an active role in its ‘politicization’.