Thursday, 13 May 2010

Solidarni 2010

As a matter of principle I don’t watch television. I find it a waste of time, if I want to get hold of some information, Internet or newspapers are better sources. The former because it allows me to quickly find what I want, the latter offers contact with a written word rather than moving picture. This conscious decision to keep away from the box entails some consequences, for example I haven’t the faintest idea who today’s celebrities are or what is being watched by masses. Recently I have been caught up in a big media uproar triggered by one film broadcast in the first channel of Polish television.

Some of you probably heard of “Solidarni 2010”, a documentary shot by Mr Pospieszalski in a week following the Smolensk tragedy. Mr Pospieszalski is generally a controversial figure, leftists, liberals and mild conservatives reckon him to be extremely partial and prejudiced, but he has a group of staunch supporters for whom he is one of handful of journalist courageous enough to tell the unpopular truth.

The documentary was supposed to be a record of true Poles’ feelings in the time of mourning, but along the way something was screwed up and finally Polish media ethics watchdog (Rada Etyki Mediów) picked on the film and claimed Mr Pospieszalski had violated rules of objectivity, respect and tolerance. In the wake of the debate which consisted in mostly trading accusations I decided to download the film and sacrifice ninety minutes to watch the controversial footage. I divided my reflections on it into three paragraphs.

1. True Poles
The people who starred in the film were only true Poles, those who mourned the president, who really loved him, who queued up for over a dozen hours to pay tribute to him. I wonder how those people who were showed in the film had been chosen. How many were interviewed and how long did it take to pick the opinions which fit the film best? How do those people who appeared in the film feel now? Are they proud or ashamed of themselves?
Judging by the documentary only, Poland came to a standstill in the days following the plane crash. In truth, most Poles slowed down a bit, but they carried on living normally, some remained indifferent, some were only sad. But are those who didn’t cry not true Poles? The bad Poles are the youngsters who protested against burial on Wawel. “How do they dare?”, one of the older women asked. In line with the consensus in the face of such a tragedy some of us should keep our mouths shut and others should take decisions without taking heed of Poles’ views.
The funny thing is that among the “ordinary Poles” you could see actors and politicians (councillors) of Law and Justice. Here I’ll stop by to quote Katarzyna Łaniewska, one of Polish actresses who in 2005 endorsed Lech Kaczynski. Mrs Łaniewska said many of her friendships had broken because her ex-friends had ridiculed late president. Once again something is beyond my comprehension. Some of my friends voted for PiS, some will vote for Mr Kaczynski or Mr Napieralski, some even hate PO or say Mr Olechowski was a sneak or scoundrel. And somehow we don’t fall out, we are aware of different views, find many other topics for conversation and live with our dissents. Your friend can say “president is a midget”, but is it a reason to end a friendship?

2. Poland is a cesspit…
This is the general conclusion I have drawn from the film. For the past twenty years of alleged independence the country has been ruled by the układ and Poles have been manipulated by hostile media. The biggest symbols of evil are of course Gazeta Wyborcza and TVN which hounded the outstanding president to death. I find it still hard to come to terms with the inconvenient for me truth that the country I’m living in is a dummy democracy steered by secret services of Russia. Many of the interviewed straightforwardly claimed they thought other countries were pulling strings in Poland. My reaction is even worse when I find out Poland has been built on lies, damned lies, spread by hostile media. Personally I take it as an insult when someone suggests I have to watch Tusk Vision Network or read The Selective to know what to think. I really don’t need to resort to help of partial journalists to form my own opinions. I am intelligent enough to do it myself.
The very true point in the film was that media indeed presented a very unfavourable image of Mr Kaczynski before his decease. Many times instead of coming up with substantive criticism they simply ridiculed him, produced an angled image. After his tragic death they made a swift turnaround an glorified the president. And I wholeheartedly agree with the “true Poles” who said what media did was an excellent example of hypocrisy.

3. Conspiracy theories
It starts with some spiritual hypotheses – evil and hatred Poles were infected with pulled down the plane. The hatred killed them, if enough individuals wish the president is dead, their wish materialises… Watch out for the distinction – he did not die, he was killed.
Media also have their part in manipulating Poles. They have ready answers for all questions, they actually do everything to prevent rational-thinking Poles from asking questions about the causes of the tragedy. And supposing it could have been a planned assassination is a symbol of mental problems.
In short, it was not an accident. Mr Kaczynski was inconvenient for the Russians, so they decided to liquidate him. Mr Tusk probably tried to help them cover up the whole plot, especially by letting them carry out the investigation. One of the men says bluntly “Premier Tusk ma na swoich rękach polską krew” (Prime Minister Tusk has his hands covered with Polish blood). Someone can be silly enough to utter such a slander on a street, but someone who decides to broadcast it in national TV should be aware of legal consequences – the sentence could be interpreted as accusing Polish prime minister of murder. Fortunately, Mr Tusk did not react to this accusation.

Should it appear on public TV? Well, yes… In a democracy we have free speech and Mr Pospieszalski should have a right to have his film broadcast and given the number of complaints Media Ethics Council has received, Poles are outraged so everything functions properly. I am not outraged nor even surprised, I know what Mr Pospieszalski and fellow cranks are capable of.
But let’s consider an imaginary film showing the dark side of late president and a typical Polish street full of indifferent, laughing folks in the days of mourning. Would the authors of it be given a chance to have their footage showed in TV? And what makes my hackles rise is that the money for this film was laid on from our purses, it was financed from licence fee takings. Here’s the hitch, it should not have been paid for by taxpayers.

I would love to see two or three similar films before the election. Is it a weird desire? No dear readers, they would remind Poles the perils of relapse of IV RP. Poles should feel the same disgust as they felt in 2007 when they rejected the vision of the country devised by the twin brothers. You might ask why I want avert the situation when Mr Kaczynski or PiS are back rulers. It’s not that he’s short, unmarried, can’t speak any foreign language and drive a car. These are just meaningless shortcomings. The real reasons are more serious.
1) Mr Kaczynski wants to build Poland on mistrust,
2) In his vision, the citizens should be for the country, not the other way round!
3) He is an expert in dividing Poles into good and bad, patriots and traitors, Solidarity and ZOMO.
This is what the public discourse in Poland should focus on. It is silly to poke fun at slip-ups, we should rather concentrate on policy issues and there’s the rub.

And finally, I don’t understand the title of the film. It should have been titled “Skłóceni 2010” as it highlighted how Poles have been divided, even in the days of mourning.


Michael Dembinski said...

I watched TVP1 news on 10 May, mainly because my wife got home too late to watch TVN's bulletin. So we're watching it. Ten minutes into TVP1's evening news, I find myself shouting at the screen. "This is bollocks! Propaganda! Tendentious crap! These guys aren't journalists - they're party placemen, telling people how to vote!"

We should not pay to watch such dire, skewed, biased "news". If PiS wants to show it to its paid-up members, fine. But this aggression will not stand.

Young people of Poland! Turn out and vote! 65% of Brits voted! If 65% of Poles voted (and not 40% like in 2005), the average voting age would fall from 60 to 30. And we'll get the president we need. Not someone most of us feel ashamed of watching when he travels abroad.

Rant over, player 1.

student SGH said...

I don't watch TVP1, waste of time and frayed nerves...

What a swift reaction. The money is indeed what it revolves around. But Bronek - he'll be average president, not an outstanding one, we haven't had a really great president in III RP and this year it's not going to change.

Bad news straight from the horse mouth - some of the youngsters are sick of politics...

Waiting for some more rants

Anonymous said...

I'm 26, voted for PO last time, although only because of Anna Mucha - I know her personaly (she taught me at KUL) and she is a good women.

But Komorowski don't seem to me like good president. Nor does Kaczyński, of course.

I will probably vote for JKM (he is safe bet - won't be elected anyway:), and in the second round for not Kaczynski. But I hoped for better campaing - Komorowski seems like PO president, not just president.

adthelad said...

I have to disagree with all but the 2nd sentence Anonymous penned. The day I see people complaining about the fact that there is no critical and balanced reporting with respect to the present government in practically all the electronic and printed media is the day I will be able to take seriously rants regarding the bias of TVP1. When the majority of the mass media stop acting as PO 'placemen', and the moment documents such as 'Solidarni 2010' start disguising their participants and hiding these peoples identities I might start taking seriously accusations of 'pro PiS' placemen. I understand some people think objective reporting is showing both sides of an argument. If I was Pospieszalski I would start inviting all those who are anti-PiS and who never a get a chance to express their views to an 'Anti Kaczynski Special'. Just think of the furore such a program would make. Breaking the mold of all this biased pro PiS reporting we've had over the past 4 years. Just think how shocking such a program would be and how upset people would be, after all it would be so different? No? Or just imagine if all the anti Kaczynski programs/ reporting/ magazine programs were required to be 'unbiased'. Oh, sorry, yes, that's right isn't it, TVP1 must only be balanced, private stations don't have to. As far as I'm concerned TVP1 showing a non anti and non pro stance is doing it's job admirably. Yes I know, awful behaviour.

p.s. Have been reading toyah as suggested Michał and although I understand and like much of what he writes I also see a great deal of difference with respect to my perception of politics. So yes, your right I'd probably like to meet him but I'm not as similar as you let yourself imagine.

student SGH said...

Adam, I can't sincerely say Mr Komorowski will be a good president, he'll be just an average president. He doesn't have makings for a head of state.

The positive / negative bias in Polish media is indeed a big problem and I don't think what Wyborcza or TVN do is better what TVP does. Supporters of PiS have however already pointed out the bias of public media in Poland is necessary to counter-balance to monopoly of PO-oriented private media. The problem is, as you noticed, that the counter-balance should be created by private corporations and public TV and radio stations should remain impartial. And TVP will be coming under fire because it is funded from our licence fee payments and subsidised from state budget. Whenever TVN gives a biased coverage of facts, someone else pays for it, not me. When Radio Maryja presents an angled picture of reality, it's also paid for by someone else.

Why do you seem to think I'm for positive bias, but not towards PiS?