LIDA HUJIĆ (Goldsmiths' College, London, Great Britain)

"I hope you're enjoying your party": MTV in wartorn Bosnia

In 1995, a Benetton shop opened in Sarajevo. Many people were astounded by this event. In a divided town where everything is grey from ashes and red from blood, who needs the 'united colours'? Although this question stems from a genuine concern for people who have no means to buy food, let alone fashion, it is, none the less, inappropriate. As a matter of fact, it might even be taken as an insult by a Sarajevan.

The concern of this paper is to explain why good intentions can sometimes be misread. After four years of war reports from the front-line, the main signifiers of the Bosnian tragedy became precisely 'grey' or 'red'. Sights of death and destruction formed popular sentiment towards the crisis. In an article in the 'Guardian' in January 1996 about how media reporting had distorted British teenagers' views of the conflict, this was a typical comment: 'Their clothes...are probably from corpses or from charities' and 'most people live in small shacks made from scraps of metal and other things they can find'. The reaction to this attitude was summed up in the words of a girl from Sarajevo: 'They're just showing that we are so poor and pitiful, and they are so good. They don't need to tell us that they are sorry, and that we are living in a war. We know everything about us. They need to tell us what's happening in the world and about their lives.'

This paper attempts to clarify this misunderstanding by focusing on a neglected side of the conflict. A case-study of MTV in Bosnia helps highlight the problem of entertainment in war. At the same time, it raises questions about contemporary popular culture which are often ignored.

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