A punk band’s concert video was censored to remove all Orbán-critical content and a band member was allegedly beaten by unknown henchmen outside his home, days after the concert.
The pademic-stricken music industry received a half-hearted lifeline from the government when they were asked to perform in garage concerts without audience – and their performance be paid for by the government. In the end, loyalists event organizers benefited the most to no one’s surprise. How the event industry is in the crosshairs of loyalist takeovers and buyouts has been widely documented over the summer. (Maybe the opposition won’t even have a lightning company to hire for its events by 2022.)
Some of the performers were not Orbánists – now that was a surprise – because their names were pulled from festival performer lists to make it look like it is totally not politically motivated. In the end, it didn’t really matter, because the infamous garage concerts were perfomred without an audience and uploaded – no, not to YouTube or any website people actually watch, but to the famous website of Antenna Hungária, where they are accessible only after registration.
So even if concert-recordings were your thing during the pandemic, and you couldn’t find one on YouTube, you could still register on the website of a state authority and watch these recordings. In other words, the entire thing was a nasty, condescending way of making the lazy bastards work for the government bailout during the lockdown, not to accidentally give someone money without making them tired. (Except for Orbán’s fronts and family. They can get money without work.)
So it wouldn’t make any difference whether the organizers left the odd anti-Orbán remark from an annoying punk band in the concert recording because no one is watching 1) concert recordings on 2) a state website 3) after registration. Unless, of course, you are a petty bureaucrat fearing for his shitty job and order the removal of the nasty things the punks said about your overlord.
The aforementioned punk band has been around for 30 years and their anti-Orbán sentiment is no secret. Any normal country would just shrug, but not an autocracy. Autocrats are petty. Their executioners are even more so to avoid reprimand for not being petty enough – or in the hope of rewards.
There were requests to leave out anti-Orbán material even before the recording of the show, but those were ignored by the punks. They showed up with a clown that yelled Fidesz slogans and unacceptable quoted from Fidesz politicians between songs, including the one where the health minister and former oncologist opines that 70-80% of cancers could have been avoided by following the ten commandments. Their front man wore a “Soros” T-shirt, and sang their songs called “Orbanisztán”, “Viktor” and their anti-Nazi anthem.
They were also asked to remove anti-Orbán things during the recording, like the T-shirt and the clown. They did not. They talked about the tangible tension during the recording, where political observers were also present.
The Orbán-critical bits were all cut from the finished video. The organizers even managed, remarkably, to edit out every single frame where the front man’s “Soros” T-shirt was visible. The clown also disappeared from the final edit.
The recording took place in October, the beating two days later, the band wrote about it on their Facebook on January 24, when they received the last minute edited version of their concert. The last minute request to approve their final video was how they learned about the censorship. They approved it to get the money. In the end, even the edited version was not seen on the (password-protected) state website for a long time. They didn’t get any marketing, interviews, intro – even though the other performers were regularly pushed on the organizers’ channels.
Before the recording, their addresses were collected for pandemic reasons, and a few days later the actor who played the clown was allegedly beaten up outside his home in Budapest. He was the only band member who lived in Budapest. He said his attackers asked if he was “that actor guy” before proceeding to beat and kick him. There was even a police station in his street, but he refrained from reporting it because the assailants were obviously unafraid of being seen, because he expected no legal recourse, and because it is impossible to prove it was because of the concert.
The entire story is dripping from pettiness. And if the assault claims are not true, they are still very much plausible because loyalists have done such things before.
The claim is impossible to prove – but also not unlikely to be true. We will never know whether it really was physical violence of Orbán fans, but we know that such a thing had happened before. And if so, it didn’t have to be ordered from above. It is in the nature of autocracy to reward such behavior and thus it is responsible for it. So people are divided. Those who are reluctant to draw certain conclusions are quick to grant the benefit of doubt – that things are not what they look like despite numerous cases when they were exactly what they looked like. Others are quick to cry politically motivated violence.
At any rate, the garage concert has been shamelessly and embarrassingly censored by fearful loyalists who wouldn’t even dare to let an Orbán-critical punk band to be featured on a password-protected site that no one watches. They, too, act on their own initiative, fearing for their positions.
And that is how an autocracy works.
The band has re-recorded their concert – complete with the clown and the system-critical songs – and put it on YouTube. Antenna Hungária had it removed for copyright infringement.
Featured image: The punk band, Hétköznapi Csalódások with the clown. Source: Facebook