Iconic rock band U2 and Apple have been accused of violating Russian anti-gay laws as a result of the free digital download of their 2014 album Songs of Innocence. The album, which was freely shared across iTunes upon its release, is currently under investigation on the request of Alexander Starovoitov, a member of Russia’s lower level of Parliament. The lawmaker claims that the album’s release breaks Russian law in that it spreads gay propaganda and makes it available to minors.
Starovoitov claims that the album cover, which features U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr. hugging his son Elvis while shirtless, resembled “two men engaged in a manifestation of non-traditional sexual relations.” As an iPhone owner, he like many other people across the world found the album downloaded onto his product once it was released for free. He claims that the download was unwanted, and that the album cover promotes homosexuality.
The release of Songs of Innocence was a messy release for the band, since many Apple users found the album downloaded onto their systems as a result of their download preferences. This led to a debate regarding whether or not consent was required in regards to the spread of music, and Apple having to create an app that would remove the album from libraries across the globe.
According to U2 the cover in question is meant to convey the fleeting nature of innocence and the challenge of protecting youth. The band’s official statement in 2014 claims that it displays how “holing on to your own innocence is a lot harder than holding on to someone else’s.” The raw photo has also been compared to several other album covers that have been released by the band over the years.
Russia’s controversial propaganda laws have been enacted against several celebrities since being enacted. In 2013 Lady Gaga found herself in the center of a media storm after one of her Russian show promoters were fined. The musician who recently tweeted out support for Bruce Jenner is a staunch LGBT advocate, and her shows are known to include speeches preaching acceptance and equality. Russian politics have also cruelly released comments about Conchita Wurst, claiming that they would ban her from touring in Russia.
Thus far, neither U2 nor Apple have responded to the backlash. To many, Russia’s “gay propaganda” laws have been regarded as homophobic and hateful. Several equality groups have lambasted the country since their newest laws have been enforced.
FDRMX Eyes: Pacovolume is a French Indie Rock artist from Paris. Check out his video “Cookie Machine.”