RITA: What do you suggest?
GIBBIS: Look, whatever it is out there, it’s obviously chosen Howard as its next course. Now, tragic though that is, this is no time for sentiment. I’m saying if it were to find him, it may be satisfied and let the rest of us go. All I want to do is go home and be conquered and oppressed. Is that too much to ask?!
RITA: It’s okay. I’ll stay with Howie. You take the others and go.
DOCTOR: No. We stay together. (He goes over to Gibbis.) Your civilisation is one of the oldest in the galaxy. Now I see why. Your cowardice isn’t quaint, it’s sly, aggressive. It’s how that gene of gutlessness has survived while so many others have perished. Well, not today. No one else dies today.
Doctor Who, The God Complex, season 6, episode 11
The only way to describe Blic’s headlines from the past three days is as an open invitation to lynch the actor Goran Jevtic. Blic’s front page on Wednesday said: “Actor Goran Jevtic ravished my son”. That headline took almost half of the front page, in big, black letters on white background, with the actor’s photograph. NUNS and UNS condemned this act of Blic the same day. Both journalists’ associations said that Blic had broken the Code of journalists of Serbia by publishing a news item based on a criminal charge and not a conviction, especially the provision that says that journalists are obliged to respect the presumption of innocence. They also said that, regardless of the fact that Goran Jevtic is a public figure, by printing his photograph, name and surname and biography, Blic violated his rights.
Ignoring the objections of journalists’ associations and deprecation from the social networks, Blic published Goran Jevtic’s photograph on the front page the next day. The headline, again, took the most part of the front page, this time in white letters on the black background, “Police questioned Goran Jevtic”. Including the actor’s photograph, of course. Blic put Goran Jevtic’s photograph on the front page again the next day, just in case – in the bottom left corner, with the headline “The boy told the prosecutor what Jevtic did to him”.
The online magazine for online thinkers 6yka published an article saying that the main motive behind the attack against the actor is profit:
“Serbian media have for years been breaking every provision of the Code of journalists of Serbia, which remains an ideal model of how journalists and editors should behave. Still, they constantly show that dictatorship of profit knows almost no boundaries and that there is no story, grounded or groundless, unfit for publishing if it raises sales”.
Biljana Srbljanovic said something similar on her Facebook page: “this is about PROFIT, comrades, ringer PROFITS from mucking up Goran, you, me… anyone”.
Blic’s readership and the number of visits to their website and Facebook page undoubtedly increased in the last few days. They undoubtedly increase every time Blic scandalizes some report about a murder, rape, molestation or starts a harangue against some public figure. However, it is possible that in this case profit is only a “nice” side effect.
Namely, as soon as Blic published its first article, many showed support for Goran Jevtic by, among other things, sharing his interviews on social networks. It was not long before one of his interviews to Blic caught our eye. The interview is over a year old and it was about the premiere of the show “Mrs. Minister”, in which Jevtic stars in a leading role. In that interview, among other things, he said the following:
“We didn’t deal with banalities. But, at the moment when we were preparing the scene with Uncle Vasa, Stross-Khan arrived in Serbia to be an advisor, a man who, regardless of his expertise, should withdraw from public life because he was discredited. The character Pera Kalenic is one of those who suddenly become relatives or admirers of those who come to power. Servant Anka, who treats Zivka differently when she is not a minister’s wife then when she is, gets pearls when she does her tasks diligently, lapses when she messes up, but soon finds a way back through the back door and Zivka lets her in… Isn’t that, for example, Dinkic? We didn’t analyze anyone explicitly, but Nusic wrote what he wrote, and in reality we have what we have. Zivka is vengeful like Vucic, fickle like Dacic, unadulterated like Nikolic, resembles Jorgovanka Tabakovic with her visual transformations, like Djilas in her attitude towards art and culture”.
The show “Mrs. Minister” can be interpreted as a strong criticism of the current government, which shouldn’t be problematic in itself. Because that’s what art is for. However, in a situation when the government can’t stand any criticism, it becomes dangerous.
We’ve talked a lot about the pressures on the media and the problem of self-censorship. No one thought about art, maybe because there was no need, because art is so marginalized that you can easily dismiss it. So, how come that Goran Jevtic is attacked this fiercely?
In order to answer this question, we need to go back to the media and ask – have we gone beyond self-censorship? Have we come to the point when journalists are behaving like Gibbis from the epigraph above? Aggressively cowardly, when they have to offer someone as a sacrifice to soothe a hungry creature and maybe save themselves? It is easy to believe that.
It is easy to believe that “the circles close to the highest levels of the government” talked about their dissatisfaction with the show “Mrs. Minister”. Asking their police sources about new juicy cases, the Blic reporter found out about the charge against Goran Jevtic and saw it as an opportunity to discredit the show, help his/her newspaper and his/her career. The editor saw the same opportunity, ignored the Code, ignored the Constitution and ordered an attack.
It is easy to believe that this happened. And pretty scary.
While I was writing this article, Blic updated its web site and the Saturday cover appeared. It announced the article – “The actor and his lawyers to Blic: You attack Jevtic because he plays Mrs. Minister”. The article is not available yet.
Translated by Marijana Simic