Remember when Apple tried to be that cool uncle who introduced you to his music by gifting you a U2 album? And remember when Apple wound up looking like a doofus with ungrateful nieces and nephews, when everybody said they didn’t want that shitty album, thanks, and Apple had to find a way to take it back? Well, it turns out that Russia hates U2’s Songs Of Innocence even more than spoiled Americans who don’t appreciate all the nice things Bono and Apple do for them. Their biggest objections? The album is spam (we knew that, thanks), and it’s dangerously gay (what?).
According the The Guardian, a right wing Russian Duma deputy (roughly the equivalent of a U.S. Congressperson) feels that Apple’s promotional gimmick is tantamount to distributing “gay propaganda” to minors, and is asking that the attorney general investigate. Specifically, Alexander Starovoitov objects to the cover art, which depicts drummer Larry Mullen Jr. embracing his son. Although not made explicitly clear, the nature of the claims suggest that Starovoitov, like everybody else, has never actually listened to the album.
According to U2’s own website, the album cover art is about holding onto innocence, drawing parallels to previous album covers, and is meant to emphasize the iconic and the intimate. Starovoitov isn’t having any of it. He’s decrying it as gay propaganda targeted at minors, and is threatening to seek “moral damages” on his son’s behalf.
If convicted of distributing gay propaganda, Apple could be prevented from doing business in Russia for 90 days, and be fined up to 1 million rubles. This should be viewed in context, however; it’s a fair guess that Apple’s openly gay CEO, Tim Cook, would happily suspend commerce in Russia for three months for such a politically backwards stunt. Also, converted to US currency, a million rubles is the approximate asking price of a 2015 Kia Forte sedan. Apple could probably afford to give one of those to every iTunes customer if it wanted to.
Apple has not yet responded to the allegations, but we’re assuming that Starovoitov wants the matter looked into more quickly than it took for the album—which came out last year—to come to his attention.