Remember waking up one day to find a mysterious new set of songs with dramatic titles like “Iris (Hold Me Close)” and “Every Breaking Wave” suddenly, inexplicably and very awkwardly trying to commingle with your collections of Usher, Uriah Heep, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, and Tracy Ullman (okay, so it’s not like your U music section was so great to begin with). U2’s encroachment on the iThings of many didn’t go down well for anyone — people reacted as though U2 had been tattooed to their bodies (a clear sign of the approaching Singularity?), while those involved in the marketing scheme made all that forced Innocence seem like a pure matter of goodheartedness.
Then, the physical album art was released, and it was just kind of funny — so kind-of-funny that it almost redeemed the whole iTunes debacle; the very dramatic pose struck by Larry Mullen, Jr. and his 18-year-old son, allegedly expressing “how holding onto your own innocence is a lot harder than holding on to someone else’s,” looked — to many who may have stumbled upon it on a billboard and understandably couldn’t automatically identify the U2 drummer’s son by his bare chest — like a puzzlingly grave prelude to fellatio.
Some Russian officials likewise seem to have misinterpreted the album art, but being that they’re officials in an incredibly homophobic nation, they didn’t take the image lightly. Consequence of Sound reports that a member of the very conservative LDPR party, Alexander Starovoitov, has convinced the country’s attorney general to begin an investigation of Apple — accusing them of disseminating illegal gay propaganda with the iTunes release of Songs of Innocence. A lawyer named Evgeny Tonky is also allegedly suing Apple for the trauma the company inflicted on his son.
Should Apple be found guilty of forcing propagandistic gay imagery on unsuspecting youths, the company may have to either pay a fine of 1 million roubles (which The Guardian translates to £13,000), or put a halt on all operations in Russia for up to 90 days.
The ignorance behind these claims is so absurd as to be laughable. Somehow, Songs of Innocence may be proving to be the best work of art of the millennium, if purely due to the fact that, by not doing that much at all, it has disproportionately inflamed not just those who are territorial of their iTunes, but now those who are egregiously territorial of other peoples’ sexualities. But the laughable absurdity of this attack on the misinterpretation of a silly album cover, of course, comes from a very repulsive reality: that Russia is systematically stifling its LGBT population.