Writing the following is dangerous. To speak of the Genocide of the Armenians is to take an enormous risk. Ultimately, this will have been an exhausting experience, suffering harassment online, seeing his facebook account cracked, receiving threats, seeing himself degraded on Amazon and being publicly defamed. Until now, this only applies to people – academics, artists or activists. It now seems that Hollywood films are on display. Them too. The Armenian Genocide remains one of the most discussed subjects in the history of the twentieth century, and even after its centenary there is little reason to believe that these discussions cease and a certain consensus emerges soon. On the contrary. Only a few weeks ago, Turkey withdrew from a European Union cultural project to protest against a work created in the framework of this project in honor of the victims of the genocide, Was on the program of the Dresden Symphony Orchestra. More recently, Turkey had prevented a concert – always against the same musical work – at the German Consulate in Istanbul. Now we are in the midst of the next anti-Armenian campaign. Its object is this time a Hollywood film, The Promise, a large-scale film based on the Genocide of the Armenians, starring among others Christian Bale. But it is possible that this time, these maneuvers will take a long time and take another turn.
All this stems from a long tradition. Eighty years ago, the government forced Hollywood to abandon a film project from the book Les Quarante Jours du Moussa Dag, a new hit on the theme of the Armenian Genocide, written by Frantz Werfel, Author in German Jewish language and resolute opponent to Hitler. The Forty Days of Moussa Dag, originally written as a warning against Hitler through the history of the Armenian Genocide, never arrived on silver screens. Such a film could have brought attention to the fate of Jews in Nazi Germany at that time, and later, when the Holocaust took place. He could have given shape to the struggle against Hitler. Many have been prepared to draw a super production from the new; For example, some time ago, of Mel Gibson and Sylvester Stallone, but the opposition and the obstruction of Turkey proved to be insurmountable.
Things seem to have changed in recent years, especially after the centenary of last year. Numerous new publications, academic and non-academic, are added to the reference publications of great historians of the Genocide of Armenians, such as Raymond Kévorkian, Taner Akçam and Ronald Grigor Suny. Conferences of specialists held throughout the world. During the conferences held last year in Israel on the Armenian Genocide – at the Open University, the Hebrew University, or the Van Leer University in Jerusalem – participants and organizers Not to mention the efforts to bring these conferences on the genocide of the Armenians and the interventions of the Turkish Government to oppose them. Israel was a perfect place for the struggle between recognition and negation. Hollywood was another and still is.
But even though many things have changed, many have remained the same. This is reflected in the low echo of the many new, well-written and well-researched books published last year in the main Western newspapers. Moreover, even without devoting a detailed study to it, it can be seen that in the media those who spoke of the centenary of the Armenian Genocide are essentially the authors of Armenian ancestry. Despite a series of resolutions of various European national parliaments that recognized the Genocide of Armenians, most of those who generally do the opinion have remained silent. This applies not only to journalists but also to the historians of the twentieth century and those of the First World War. It is therefore not surprising that the press coverage of The Promise betrays the fact that the Armenian Genocide is still perceived as a “new” subject and relatively unfamiliar to the public as a whole.
The Turkish government has built a very solid and relatively successful wall of silence, blocking attempts not only to make it known, but also to discuss it through various forms of intimidation. The denial of the Armenian Genocide must be regarded as the most successful of the lobbying campaigns of the past hundred years, if one is interested in what influences our perception of the past. Even the methods of intervention have changed, Turkish denial is not something that belongs to the past. It is less about direct intervention by the government or the embassy, but rather a general atmosphere of intimidation, fear and compulsion to silence. One can only imagine the threats passed on to the media – journalists, networks, film distributors – but we know that they exist and that they are very concrete. What is just as real and tangible is the immediate calumny, the intimidation reflex of an amorphous body of Turkish nationalists and negationists who will use social media to attack those who speak.
The Promise went beyond major past projects – mainly because its funding was independent. This is one of the most expensive independent films ever made. It was done and it seems that it went to the end. Lastly, it still has one last obstacle to overcome. It has no distributors yet. And this is where Turkish intimidation, threat and boycott strike. The film was screened in September at the International Film Festival at relatively few audiences. Like any film of interest, its recording at the IMBB [Film Reference Database] is available; We can find any information about the film and we can give the film from one to ten stars. It turns out that this film, not yet accessible to the public, has become online a subject of sensation, or rather a field of battle. It has attracted over 91,000 votes in recent weeks, giving mostly ten or one star. The majority, for more than 57,000, are one-star votes. This is an obvious campaign to underestimate this film, which provoked in reaction pro-Armenian votes. We are witnessing a new anti-Armenian negationist campaign developed abroad, far from Turkey, in open, democratic societies. Although it is not known by whom this campaign is orchestrated, it has been assumed that, as for other campaigns, its ramifications go as far as the Turkish government and the nationalist groups.
This time it seems to be something new. In recent decades, the denial of the Armenian Genocide has gone through various stages of development. He seemed to have converted to a modern gibberish, frequently using the words “stories”, “speeches” where “facts” and “archival documents” reigned in the past. If this was the postmodern negation style of the Armenian Genocide, we are now witnessing a version of the phenomenon specific to social media. Negationism has entered the age of Twitter and the packs dropped online to make the law, with unfortunately the same success.
But what is the real meaning of these 91,000 votes on IDBM? Who wrote them; How many people are actually behind these votes, what are these people representative of? What exactly is their purpose? Just as Trump’s presidential campaign tells us a lot about future politics – for example, about the role of online bullying, the politics of social media messages, and the mobilization of unconditional activists – ‘IMDB around The Promise can tell us about a highly fragmented and mobilizable society or, in many areas, radicalized groups that exist only in social media (for now). While waiting to better understand and to be more cautious not to fall into the trap of the votes on the social media, the “I like” or “to review”, more than 91,000 votes make a good publicity and should assure to this A good distribution ensures that those, more than 32,000, who voted for him, can really see the film. Few movies have enjoyed such a buzz on IMDB even before their release. It’s clear. Thank you, Holocaust deniers.
Dr. Ihrig is a writer and history teacher at the University of Haifa
Gilbert Béguian translation
Stéphane © armenews.com