There are a few words and phrases that every RTS reporter must mention in a broadcast and every government politician must mention in a speech. “Preserving sovereignty and national integrity” and “the extended hand of NATO alliance” (i.e. the opposition parties) are the most memorable ones, but there are some, often overlooked, that are equally, well… stupid.
For example, every time our dear president’s wife, Mira Markovic, went to the Republic of xyz promoting her books, she wouldn’t fail to mention (and all the RTS reporters wouldn’t fail to report it), that a traditional friendship exist between Serbia and the people of xyz. Be it Bulgaria, China, or Iraq, Serbia is, says she, friends with all of them.
Well, with friends like that… right? Even worse, the minister of foreign affairs said a week ago while touring Africa that a traditional friendship exists between Yugoslavia and the Republic of Ghana. The fact that more than 80 per cent of people in Serbia, myself included, don’t know exactly where in Africa Ghana is aside, could a friendship between two countries whose combined age is less than 50 really be called “traditional”?
But do I really need to tell you all of this? A British version of RTS, albeit milder and fairer (which is good) and more subtle (which is bad… very bad), is only a click away from you. And, of course, it has a different easily recognisable set of three letters – two Bs and a C. I don’t watch it all that much, only “Panorama” actually, but what I see is… I guess “scary” is the right word. Ok, sometimes they do get it right, but most of the times – it’s just crap. Quote: “She is willing to tell us what “the Serbs” did to the men of the village” or “The Albanian snipers attacked the French peacekeepers because “the Serbs” made them feel vulnerable”.
Whoever makes that programme should write, “Labeling people and / or nations is very very very very bad” on the board a 1,000 times. Now all of this reminded me of a Benetton commercial I read about in a magazine – A man is walking trough some woods when he sees ten people, nine of them black and one white, drowning in the river, but realizes that because of the strong current he can help only one of them. So he decides which one he’ll save, and just as he grabs the white one to pull him out a thought flashes trough his head: “But what if he’s a Serb?”
Something in all of that troubles me. I know for a fact that most people who work in RTS, a friend of mine’s mother is a news editor there, hate their work, have miserable salaries and would gladly see their bosses thrown out both from office and from the country. But people who work at the BBC, CNN or any other 3 letter acronym out there don’t really care about what or who they hurt with their reports, as long as it looks good on TV and the ratings stay high. When all of this is over, most of the people who work for RTS will change, become objective, be better reporters, but your people will stay the same. It won’t be Serbia, perhaps China, India, even Austria will be in the spotlight, but they’ll still keep labeling people, separating them into heroes, victims and villains, and you still won’t know what’s actually happening out there.
But for now, it’s us who are in deep you-know-what. Right now, and by that I mean at the very moment I’m writing this, there is a Socialist party congress going on in Belgrade. It brings to my mind inevitable comparisons to the conservatives’ congress I saw the coverage of last year. The conservatives, I remember, brought some ordinary people to theirs to show they are in-tune to the nation. The socialists closed all stores in a two-mile radius so the people would stay out. The conservatives invited some people even though they knew those people weren’t exactly all that happy about the running of the party. The socialists banned disgruntled members from reaching Belgrade, let alone the congress hall. The conservatives got at least one person to join them during the congress.
The socialists got at least ten dozen to cancel their membership. So, the party that looks bad when compared to the conservatives is running the country I live in . The question is: should I move to Ghana or Iraq? Neither of them look so bad right now.