Around the Balkans in 20 Days (Part 1/5)

Uploaded by vice on Aug 29, 2012


THOMAS MORTON: Yugoslavia is best known as that big, goofy
country from the '70s that turned into six little
countries in the '90s amid an orgy of rape
and nightmare war.
The breakup of Yugoslavia led to a period of such heinous
interethnic violence, including acts of outright
genocide, it seemed amazing that they had ever been able
to live together in first place.
At the end of World War II, Josip Marshal Tito Broz united
the six Balkan republics into a massive socialist
federation, despite the fact that, historically, they all
wanted to kill each other.
When Tito died, the old ethnic tensions reawoke and the
republic started to break away--
first Slovenia, then Macedonia, then Croatia, then
Bosnia, and eventually Montenegro, leaving Serbia the
last republic to carry the torch for the old Yugoslavia.
Oh yeah, Kosovo broke away too, if you
consider that a country.
It's been 10 years since the end of the wars, and since the
man widely considered their architect, Serbian president
Slobodan Milosevic, was bulldozed out of office.
All the former Yugoslav republics have now applied for
membership in the European Union.
At the same time, the Balkans is still a byword for barbaric
acts of violence, and the entire region occupies a sort
of threshold state between Europe and, well, not-Europe.
So we went to the Balkans to find out once and for all if
Yugoslavians are just like you-and-me-goslavians.

THOMAS MORTON: Hey, it's Thomas.
We're in Yugoslavia-- or former Yugoslavia, I'm sorry.
We're in Serbia right now.
We rented an old Yugo for this trip.
I don't think we realize quite how old it would be.
We're going about 100 K right now-- so maybe 60-- and the
car's rattling.
It's almost like being in a moving massage chair.
It's holding up pretty well except that the fuel gauge is
literally doing this, so we have to guess when
we're out of gas.
And me and the passenger seatbelts are tied together.
I forgot about that.

So we're going to Yugoland, and that's a kind of a farm
mixed with an amusement park.
But it's supposed to capture the memory of Marshal Tito's
Tell you one thing about Yugoland, they don't
advertise very well.
There were no signs on the highway for it.
And it is in the middle of a very, very, very tiny village.
Yugoland's website advertises it as a full service amusement
park in northern Serbia, based on the former Yugoslavia.
It has different sections for each of the old constituent
republics, except for Kosovo, so we couldn't think of a more
perfect place to get oriented for a road trip through the
scattered remnants of old Yugoslavia.

So this is Yugoland.
It looks like it's kind of in the backyard
of someone's house.
I think we might have missed most of the action.
This might be the [INAUDIBLE] committee.
Sounds like stuff's still going on in the background.
Yugoland seemed pleasant enough, if
a bit old and rustic.
Not a lot of teenagers so far, nor a lot of ladies.

Blasko Gabric is Yugoland's founder, a Serbian printmaker
turned Canadian turned eventual Yugoslavian superfan,
and is generally what people of the region refer to as
quite a character.

THOMAS MORTON: Nine years and counting.
THOMAS MORTON: Pretty good, yeah.

THOMAS MORTON: Yugoland turned out to be less of an amusement
park than a park park, and really less of that than a
yard with some picnic tables and a lot of tipsy Serbians.
Nevertheless, its amenities include a bandstand, soccer
fields, a reflecting pool in the shape of the Croatian
coastline, and a scale model of Slovenia's Mount Triglav.

THOMAS MORTON: The most important amenity, however, is
a fervent and unconditional love for Yugoslavia's late
partisan leader, Marshal Tito.

THOMAS MORTON: Marshal Tito's extremely beloved for a dead
Communist dictator.
Even coming from an American perspective, I always had a
pretty vaunted impression of him.
He was like the dictator who cares--
minimal human rights violations, genuine popular
support, and he was one of the only Communists with the balls
to tell Stalin where to smoke it-- or where to stuff it,
however that saying goes--
and on top of that, he fucked Elizabeth Taylor, probably.
So all in all, not a terrible guy to worship.
The guest of honor at Yugoland was here as Tito's grandson,
though we get the feeling the family charm may have skipped
a couple generations.

THOMAS MORTON: It's outside.


THOMAS MORTON: The crown prince.

THOMAS MORTON: A real who's who.
US president anywhere here?
Or was it Reagan by that point?
THOMAS MORTON: Oh, there's Thatcher.
THOMAS MORTON: She's somewhere.

THOMAS MORTON: A few Elvis had a pretty big funeral.

THOMAS MORTON: Oh yeah, a bunch.

THOMAS MORTON: Yugoland's a pretty
harmless exercise in nostalgia.
What's creepy, though, is the part where it's mostly Serbs
getting together in Serbia to celebrate their Yugoslav
history, all while neatly stepping over the decade their
country spent committing war crimes on Bosnia and Croatia
and Kosovo.
You also have to remember that during the '90s, when the wars
were going on and Blasko was just getting into his
Yugoslavian heritage, Serbia was still Yugoslavia--
Milosevic's Yugoslavia.
Go, Yugoslavia.

While the Yugolanders sort of represent the feelgood version
of the Balkans' past, basically retreading
decades-old national propaganda ad nauseum, another
group of Serbs have been barreling into the future with
a trunk full of smuggled drugs, the
soundtrack pumping Turbofolk.