martedì 16 novembre 2010
Oriano Mattei : Report from a concert by a Serbian war-criminal.
16 Novembre 2010
Serbian writer Jasmina Tesanovic has written a piece called “Ideally Bad, or, The Banality of Her Badness.” It tells the story of last night’s concert by Serbian turbo-folk star Ceca. Ceca is the widow of the Milosevic-era war criminal Raznatovic, better know as Arkan, and she goes about in public adorned in kewelry looted from the victims of war atrocities. She is a Serbian ultra-nationalist whose fame is both nauseating and ill-deserved, and Tesanovic’s account of her concerts is scathing, brutal, and brilliant.
by Jasmina Tesanovic
Ideally Bad, or, The Banality of Her Badness
There is no excuse for going to Ceca’s concert (“Ideally Bad”) but I found one: I took a foreigner with me. I am trembling with shame while the local crowd of Ceca fans is flooding down to the confluence of the rivers of Danube and Sava. The concert is occurring next to the big, ugly monument that Mira Markovic built to celebrate the NATO raids. In the name of the Serbian people, this monument is inscribed. Well, NOT IN MY NAME.
I am glumly studying this host of young people merrily walking to see their evil pop-idol. They are SO young, our children from some years ago, the so called war children. These war kids are high school kids today… Do they remember anything of the wars, of the crimes and massive looting done in their names by their turbo folk icon?… Do they know that Ceca robbed them of their future?
The widow of Raznatovic has big new tits, extended meaty lips, and is dressed in her usual flowing white robes. She sings the old hits about bad men she loves who treat a woman like a dog. The kids know every word, and sing along. The most famous turbo folk star in the region, Ceca is an eighteen-year veteran, highly popular even in the neighboring areas where her husband and his paramilitary troops looted and killed her listeners.
Ceca and militiamen
Arkan's widow, Ceca, and militiamen at the funeral
Many years ago, when I first wrote of Ceca, I described her as a victim: she was already a pop star when Arkan married her, and the poor little thing was only half his age. I naturally imagined that Arkan was abusing her fame and beauty for his military nationalist goals. Then Ceca became a mature Serbian-nationalist queen, wearing a huge cross and ardently singing of Jesus. Around her neck hung fancy necklaces stolen from refugees or victims. One such necklace, a particularly choice piece of war-loot, was even identified live on a TV show as she wore it. The ranks of Balkan war criminals are lavishly jewelled with such Lady Macbeths.
Nevertheless, our children are thoroughly hooked to this lousy, aggressive, victimist celebration of Serbian male power. The marvelling foreigner and I were the oldest ones in this crowd last night, perhaps half a million fans, maybe more. The massive stacks of amplifiers were audible for kilometers around. The police were rolling in big buses and trucks, manning all the bridges, in full force around the concert site.
I wonder what trouble the police expected, for the concert crowd was one of the tamest I have seen in Belgrade. It was a high school rally, really. These poverty-stricken kids were in rubber sandals and cheap little summer tops and shorts. They didn’t even have lighters, for the security people snatched these out of their pockets and dumped them on the ground.
Ceca during a concert, by Wikipedia
My foreigner naturally expected to see the legendary Balkan temptress surrounded by shaven-headed, heavily-armed gangs of paramilitary Arkan Tigers in uniforms and secret-police jeeps, so he looked quite chagrinned at today’s reality. This is a low key show, not badly staged, yet bland and boring. She generously sings for hours on end with scarcely a pause to change gowns, but, remote and tiny on her distant, glittering stage, she often sounds as if she is phoning in her performance. The crowd knows every word of her hits, and she frequently stops singing to hold out her microphone and let them do the work. I notice husky young guys singing in the female gender, so as to mimic every word of their idol.
In the middle of the concert, she thanks her fans for their unfailing support during her many troubles, then bursts in tears as they supportively chant her name… This widowed mother of two has certainly known her woes: her husband was publicly murdered right in front of her favorite boutique. She also spent a spell in prison because of collaborating with the paramilitary criminal gangs. She started her concert by quoting the late Slobodan Milosevic, when he addressed his own crowds in his heyday: I LOVE YOU TOO.
Still, this is not that old Milosevic crowd of aggressive and vengeful middle-aged Communists. These kids drink mostly Coca-Cola, not even beers, and just jump around. The security at the entrance has deprived them of every conceivable weapon, patting them down and dumping pens, lighters, anything made of metal.
So when the singer asks the crowd to light candles for her, this proves impossible. The police move fast from one edge of her crowd to another, as if fully expecting mayhem to burst out. Nothing happens. The densely jammed crowd of standing teens moves from a sentimental mood, toward boredom, toward overcrowded suffocation, and at last toward some vague, general humiliation. Surprisingly large numbers of her fans seem to be leaving early. The concert is sponsored by Volkwagen, broadcast by TV Pink and is echoing across Belgrade, but it is numbing the crowd. Even if she were trying, which she isn’t, it would be hard work to whip up any storm of patriotism here. Montenegro has seceded. Then came that hellish 6 to zero defeat from Argentina in the World Cup soccer game. The Macbeth signs and portents just aren’t on her side.
The widow is in good voice, goes through her usual motions and hasn’t put on weight, but the strength has drained from her scene. These kids don’t have any turbo-folk look; punk, or metal, or techno, or ethno, those would probably suit them just as well. They scarcely bother to rhythmical chant ‘Serbia’ or point the three-finger salutes.
Ceca's fashion portrait. In spite of all she's still absurdly adored in the Balkans
Ceca has always idolized Madonna, supposedly using Madonna’s show trailer and Madonna’s make-up artist, but any Madonna concert would have been vastly better organized than this. Madonna is not a small-time local war-looter like Ceca but a ruthlessly organized global capitalist, so Madonna would have sold tens of thousands of dollars worth of Madonna merchandise to such an adoring crowd. These Ceca fans get nothing much from her: no chairs, no place to stand, no T-shirts, nothing but tough security, badly-printed 500-dinar Ceca CDs and maybe some mineral water. Even her band improves when Ceca leaves the stage for a moment: these skilled rock musicians and gypsy players lay down some pretty hot rhythms when Ceca is not around to narcotize them with her monotonous laments.
My friends are furious at me for buying the tickets and going to see Ceca. They hate the sight of Serbia in denial and resent the fact that the world takes a lot more interest in a glamorous criminal gangster-moll than they do in us, the others… I have one small satisfaction, because my foreigner is bored and visibly disappointed. He’s openly questioning everything he thought he knew about the big bad Balkans. What is this really all about, he is asking me loudly?
Some years ago, I refused to take a foreign journalist to one of Ceca’s concerts. I was so offended that he asked that I even refused to speak to him. I had to consider him a kind of accomplice… Then I fought with my feminist girlfriends, defending the many Serbian girls who identify with Ceca as born female victims. Last night, though, I managed to patch these two contradictory attitudes without bursting. I sincerely hope she sings her laments from a jail cell, some day… Then, I may even applaud.