Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Showbusiness Ethnopolitics: Severina's Rainbow Tour

When I heard Severina was off on a tour of North America this November, I wondered briefly whether the schedule would touch down in Washington DC, where I spent most of last week at a not unrelated conference.

No such luck, and while I was in Washington, it turned out that the entire tour had been called off, ostensibly due to incredibly poor ticket sales - only several dozen at each venue, and as little as 20 tickets (or even just 8?) in LA.

Croatian tabloid 24 sata has been almost gleeful about the whole thing, reporting Severina's landing in Atlanta, bomb threats to the venues in Vancouver and Los Angeles and the eventual cancellation of the whole schedule through a reporter already accompanying Seve on her rainbow tour.

Now she's back in Zagreb, the root of the problem seems to be resistance from the Croatian diaspora towards her performing in larger concert venues (the Atlanta concert was booked for the CBS Center) rather than diaspora clubs owned and operated by Croatian emigres - and/or a semi-organised campaign against a Croatian singer's tour being operated by a Serb-American firm Arx International. (Arx's upcoming attractions include concerts by Indira Radić, Kemal Monteno, Zdravko Čolić, Bijelo Dugme and Rade Šerbedžija - hardly a narrowly Serb line-up, although there's of course no sign of the usual Croatian-club diaspora performers, who operate through other channels.)

Arx's Miloš Marić has since told the Serb-American magazine Objektiv that he believed sections of the diaspora sabotaged the LA and Vancouver legs in particular by refusing to accept advertising or posters, as did a Serb radio station in LA 'which did not want to run the ad because Severina is a Croat'. However, he praised the Croatian Chronicle newspaper for prominently advertising the tour, and emphasised that:

'Of course I can't talk about a boycott from the entire Croatian community, because I don't believe the people who work in those media have that much influence over the whole community or that the entire community in those cities is homogeneously negative.

Marić's colleague Žana Jovanović Savić has also blamed the diaspora, including a Croat radio station in New York whose editor 'openly boycotted us, describing our collaboration as unnatural.'

The same line, perhaps unsurprisingly, comes from Serbian tabloid Blic - although no mention there, or in the dependably outraged Kurir, of the Serb radio station in LA.


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