Karabagh Goes “Happy,” Pharrell-Williams-Style

Giorgi Lomsadze
Disputed and destitute Nagorno Karabagh has become the latest place to produce a version of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” video, the fad which has gotten much of the world “clapping along.”
With funky dance moves and a vivacious collection of characters, “We Are Happy from Karabakh,” sponsored by the Los-Angeles-based Armenia Fund, does its best to make separatism look hip. British Baroness Caroline Cox, one of the breakaway territory's most prominent supporters, is featured rocking together with staff and patients at a clinic in the capital, Stepanakert. (*)
For the territory, enmeshed in the South Caucasus' most bitter conflict for more than 20 years, the propaganda value of that message is clear.
Before Karabagh joined the “Happy” craze, the two countries warring over the territory – Armenia and Azerbaijan – had made their own versions of  Williams’ hit, too. In “Happy Yerevan,” produced by the US Alumni Association of Armenia, US Ambassador John Heffern makes a swaying cameo. Another popular version, by Lumen Cinematography, dispenses with the Mickey-Mouse ears, however.
Energy-rich Azerbaijan, which claims ownership of Karabagh, has come out with several versions, staged in the capital, Baku, and the industrial town of Sumgayit, which produces aluminium and Islamic fighters.(**)
There is even a “Happy & Unhappy” version that takes a swipe at the contrast between the celebrities featured in Azerbaijan's best-known "Happy" video and those individuals allegedly doing time in Azerbaijani prisons for differing with the government.
Strangely, Georgia, for all its supras, has proven to be the least happy of the South-Caucasus three. Though never shy to burst into dance (particularly for promos), Georgia ranked the lowest in the South Caucasus in the United Nations’ World Happiness Report 2013.
The UN and Williams’ definitions of happiness may differ, but, so far, the only stab Georgia has taken at the happiness craze appears to be a little amateur video from the small town of Telavi. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the town is the seat of the country’s main wine-producing region, Kakheti.
Georgia’s breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia also have not proven to be strong “Happy” video enthusiasts, but with Karabakh’s new online hit, perhaps inspiration will strike.

Eurasianet.org, July 1, 2014

(*) According to Hetq.am, the video was posted on Youtube on June 29. It had more than 35,000 views in the first 18 hours. It was produced by Areg Balayan and Arsen Beglaryan, with participation of over 120 people ("Armeniaca").

(**) Given its production of Islamic "fighters," it is not surprising that Sumgayit was where anti-Armenian pogroms started in Azerbaijan in February 1988 ("Armeniaca").

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