Hate Radio

Hate Radio

Arches, Glasgow

Loading article content

Mary Brennan

It's not an easy listen. Not because our headphones are only speaking French. Mind you, the English surtitles are so speedy they're not an easy read either. No, Hate Radio cranks up queasy unease, because it reminds us that the events of 1994, and the genocide of Tutsis by Hutus in Rwanda, can't be ring-fenced in the annals of the past: this show whispers latent warnings about histories being forged now, in the name of freedom,national identity, and self-determination. It doesn't take a hyperactive imagination to see events in the Crimea as another flashpoint scenario where manipulative propaganda - as used by the extremists broadcasting on RTLM (Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines) - can polarise communities and set neighbour against neighbour.

Milo Rau's real-time reconstruction of a typical RTLM programme lets the station's content and staff attitudes speak for themselves. In between up-to-the minute sports coverage, heavily biased political communiques and the newest uber-hot Congolese music, the racist poison crept into the susceptible ears of Hutu listeners: Tutsis were "cockroaches" who had to be exterminated - an estimated one million were, in a matter of weeks.

The studio action, where the presenters demolish copious amounts of beer, call for the public to send them lots of grass to smoke and groove around to the music, is bookended by statements from genocide victims and witnesses who graphically detail the savagery involved and the legacy that masquerades as reconciliation.

What chills just as much, however, is the banality of aggression - after praising the broadcasters for their "courage" one listener requests some music. Somehow the upbeat "I like to move it, move it" eclipses Nirvana's Rape Me as an anthem of hate without conscience on radio.