Monday, April 16, 2007

Thompson, Insignia And The War

Coincidence being what it is, who knows whether the beginning of Thompson's tour in Vukovar on Friday or the escalating controversy over its Sarajevo leg prompted the singer to give an interview to Jutarnji list at the weekend.

Needless to say, the opening exchanges relate to the Sarajevo concert, regarding which Thompson emphasises that 'the most important reason for me going to Sarajevo is the charity concert whose profits are intended for the construction of a Croat Catholic Home, at the invitation of the Croat Catholic Society and Father Ante Jelić' - and that the rumour that 'they are even calling on Sarajevans, Bosniaks, to come to the [concert venue] Zetra and demonstrate' is an unneccessary 'invitation to conflict'.

As regards the Ustaša merchandise often seen among sections of the audience at his concerts, Thompson argues:

'As far as iconography is concerned, on stage I've often said that everyone who feels the need to wear military insignia ought to wear the insignia of the victorious Croatian army from the Homeland War. I always emphasise that, but again, I repeat, I can't dictate what people wear. Moreover, if there's anything illegal there, services exist which are responsible for dealing with that.'

There's a fair point here: why has 1990s military iconography failed to resonate with young people (or with the people who order and sell the merchandise in the first place) in the way that Ustaša imagery has done, for all the short-lived cult status which attached to various contemporary army brigades in 1991-92? Where are the T-shirts, caps and football scarves commemorating the 1st Guard Brigade (Tigers), the 4th Split Guard Brigade, the 101st Zagreb or the 204th Vukovar? Why should it be so much easier to find Jasenovac i Gradiška Stara on the internet than the briefly famous anthem of the 101st?

Talking of Jasenovac, which Thompson was infamously accused of performing in 2004, he'd be glad to clear that up as well:

'I have my own official repertoire, and that song has never been in it. Of course, I didn't even write it either, I've never recorded it nor do I stand behind those lyrics. Those aren't my principles, nor are they any sort of human principles. My songs are about love of God, the family, the homeland and man. There's no way I'll allow people to attach things to me which are nothing to do with me.

--But there were still occasions when you used to sing that song too.

--Those weren't occasions, that was a time when everyone sang all sorts of things. The Honmeland War wasn't just a physical fight with the Četniks, but also a psychological war. We know what all the Četniks sung and how people sang to them. Dragging all that out of the context of that time isn't fair. All that was a crazy time. But, I say again, I won't allow people to burden me with that. Only a sick mind could have done what Denis Latin did when he played that song on his show edited with footage of corpses floating down a river and then asked his guests "What do you think of this Thompson video?". I still have lots of problems because of that today.
'

That would be that for the Thompson interview, if the interviewer himself hadn't dedicated his regular column in the same newspaper today to a post-mortem of it, reflecting particularly on Thompson's defence of the 'Za dom spremni' slogan (used as the introduction of his wartime debut hit Bojna Čavoglave (Čavoglave Platoon)) and going on to lament that:

'there are few people who can and will express with equal strength both their love for their homeland and disgust at every sort of crime which has ever been committed under the mask or in the name of that love. Just as there are terribly few people who are prepared to defend the principles of antifascism and, with the same bitterness and with no excuses, reject and condemn all the hideous crimes committed under the mantle and insignia of that civilisational and human commitment.'

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1 Comments:

At 4:56 am, April 19, 2007, Blogger Yakima_Gulag said...

There's a fair point here: why has 1990s military iconography failed to resonate with young people (or with the people who order and sell the merchandise in the first place) in the way that Ustaša imagery has done, for all the short-lived cult status which attached to various contemporary army brigades in 1991-92? Where are the T-shirts, caps and football scarves commemorating the 1st Guard Brigade (Tigers), the 4th Split Guard Brigade, the 101st Zagreb or the 204th Vukovar? Why should it be so much easier to find Jasenovac i Gradiška Stara on the internet than the briefly famous anthem of the 101st?

I think I have an answer to that question..it's just my theory, but what the Hell...

Back during the war, the Croats were accused of being Ustaši and there is a defiance to people that they said 'alright they are calling us this name let's give them something to talk about, let's get right in their face with it!'

The other thing, I don't know if most people realize it, but LEGITIMATE Croatian insignia, and iconography dating to the Middle Ages gets confused in many minds with Ustaša symbols. It's a common thing for opponents of the Croatian people to make that particular confusion, deliberately or by accident.

I think it's reached the point where even many young Croatian people don't realize this, and there is the semi-illegality issue. Young people LOVE to do stuff that's not quite legal, and need occasions of defiance.

It's way more defiant to wear some bit of Ustaša gear, than to wear something that represents the Tigrovi, or H.V.O. or H.O.S.S. or something like that, that's like almost ESTABLISHMENT or something.

 

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