Thursday, 3 March 2011

VO.X “official disclaimer statement” re music video “I love Armenia”. Satisfactory? You decide

UPDATE 29 April 2011: VO.X frontrunner Aram Rian has re-edited and replaced the controversial portion of the band’s "I Love Armenia" music video, by removing the reference to homosexuality as “perversion”. We have reached a mutual understanding with the group and consider this matter resolved as dialogue has taken place. We no longer have reason to believe either Aram Rian or VO.X is homophobic, and we wish them success in their future endeavors.
On 2 March 2011, Armenian music band VO.X issued “official disclaimer statement” re their music video “I love Armenia”. To remind: when the video was released last year, it sparked outrage among gay and (many) straight Armenians, because of its pretty direct homophobic message, and calls to boycott the band.

You may read VO.X statement in full below. For now, I do not want to comment on it myself. I would let you to be the judges re: whether VO.X statement is satisfactory and whether it “settles the matter once and for all”?

Background to the story:

Homophobic music video by Armenian band VO.X disguised under "progressive ideas"

Armenian music band VO.X on PR defensive to 'justify' homophobia

(also related) Outrage as Armenia Fund Telethon promotes homophobia

by VO.X

March 2nd, 2011
Yerevan, Armenia

To Whom It May Concern

I hereby state that, based on Biblical principles, I personally hold the belief that Christianity and homosexuality cannot be viewed as reconcilable phenomena (This approach was reflected within the context of my music video "I Love Armenia", which spoke of cherishing Christian values in traditional Christian Armenia).

Nonetheless, by no means does that imply that I have ever intended to promote homophobia or hate towards sexual minorities through my musical career.

According to a commonly known definition (also stated by Wikipedia), "the term 'homophobia' is often used inaccurately to describe any person who objects to homosexual behaviour on either moral, psychological or medical grounds. Technically, however, the term actually denotes a person who has a phobia – or irrational fear – of homosexuality. Principled disagreement, therefore, cannot be labeled 'homophobia'." My case is that of objection on moral grounds. Hence, I cannot be viewed as a homophobe, because, in fact, I am not.

Being a human rights defender by nature and generally a peaceful tolerant person with a pacifist world view, I would never deliberately offend or discriminate any person or a group of people. Nor would I ever cross the boundaries, set by the amount of freedom of speech and expression assigned to me as an individual.

Therefore, if it ever appeared that I was willingly offending a specific category of people through my musical activities, I can sincerely assure the persons concerned that I had never been driven by such a motive.

I sincerely regret that it all led to certain forms of misconception, I regret that people were offended by the above-mentioned video and I truly wish to settle the matter once and for all.

Aram Rian
songwriter, musician


Adrineh said...

what a load of bullsh**... sorry, I have no other words at this time.

artmika said...

Btw, to put things clearer. Here is the definition of homophobia by Wikipedia. Compare it to the one 'referred to' in the statement:

Stuart said...

Dear Mika,

As a British national who works in Human Rights in Armenia, intolerance of was Freud called 'das Unheimliche', '[what is considered]the other' is unfortunately widespread. What is more distressing, however, is that I have often heard such views espoused by so-called 'human rights defenders', as you can see in the letter you posted.

While the apology rings hollow, one must recognise that at least one was written, which is, in a way, a positive step. Admittedly this has happened after the event and much of the damage has been done. However, this might now encourage people to think twice before advocating intolerance publicly
in future for fear of provoking outrage not only within but also outside Armenia.

As a musician myself (my group An Gordonach! will be releasing an EP next month), saying there was no intention in the video to offend has little substance as you are in creative control. However, as I said before, let's hope a lesson has been learned. If they tried to play in the UK now they would encounter some serious difficulties - nowadays we don't stand for this sort of thing.

We'll keep on fighting ignorance and intolerance.


artmika said...

Here is a reaction by No Rock and Roll Fun:

Vo.x denies homophobia - gays are just wrong, they're not afraid of them

Getting on for a year ago now, Armenia-British band Vo.X churned out a pop video which suggested that being gay was a "peversion", on a par with air pollution and, erm, neglecting historical sites, and should be stamped out if Armenia was to be a nice place to live .

They also seem to think they're a Britpop band, but let's let that one go.

It's taken a few months, but Vo.x have come up with a response [...]

You know that as soon as someone reaches for a dictionary - or Wikipedia - to parse the word "homophobia" to react to such an accusation that they really don't have much a defence. It's a bit like a racist going "how can I be xenophobic? If I was afraid of foreigners, I'd not chase them for a ruck, would I?"

Aram doesn't quite explain why putting a big red cross through gay people's faces isn't hate filled, or that suggesting that Armenia cannot be a happy, shiny place while gays live there isn't calling for discrimination. Perhaps Vo.x are still looking for the Wikipedia page on why being an asshat isn't, strictly speaking, asshattery.

MMK said...

After conversation with VO.X I promised not to comment on this issue any more but of course I am not satisfied with this statement at all. Though this video is stamped in society's mind already but I hope in future they will correct this huge mistake somehow.

Adrineh said...

British Film Festival in Armenia (sponsored by the British Council, the British Embassy in Armenia and BMI Airlines) will launch on Mar. 8 with opening remarks by sponsors and performance by VO.X:

artmika said...

Thanks for the article and link, Adrineh jan. X-posted on my blog too:

British Film Festival in Armenia launches on 8 March with homophobic VO.X band performing (