Feb 21, 2010

But is it Racist?



You’ve heard of black face. Well, Russian ice dancers Oksana Domnina and Maksim Shabalin decided to do one better: black skin, body paint and eucalyptus leaves. Just like painting your face back and pretending you're a tap dancer, Shabalin thought this would be a great idea. But is it racist?

"We are respectful towards all competitors and all nations," said Shabalin.
*Stunned silence.

Alas, Russia enslaved its own people for centuries, rather than importing them from other places, and never enjoyed an all consuming discussion on race in society (examples here, here and here) like the United States.

But that doesn't make it right, Maksim.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps they were counting on the fact that Africa doesn't send many athletes to the Winter Olympics?

Sorry... bad quip. Just trying to figure this one out.

Ani said...

So...Sochi Olympics, Georgian ice dancing team: Suggested number--Drunk Cossack dancing routine. What could go wrong? ;)

Sublime Oblivion said...

I don't see why Russia should be subjected to US or Western race complexes / psychoses that are not a part of its own history. Insisting otherwise is tantamount to cultural imperialism.

Anonymous said...

The problem was with whoever, (I can only assume, the ISU) came up with the "folk dance" theme.

While I respect that some may be offended by this couple's choice, it actually IS kind of different and cool and I don't think it was done in a way to mean disrespect to the culture.

Imagine an ice dancing team from Nigeria donning cowboy hats and lassos and skating to "Get a long little doggie." It would be a bit offensive and weird looking to some people.

Pirates(and)Diplomats said...

@Ani: I'd pay for that.

And the ice dancing Nigerians would be wild.

But we might have the same conversation if they'd painted their bodies and faces white.

Daniel said...

Anonymous (and Sublime Oblivion) - I agree people can be too sensitive and also too unjustifiably often assume that everyone should share their sensitivities.

...but it seems to me there's a big difference between cowboys, which are stereotypical but not especially offensive - and dressing up in a bunch of leaves.

Anonymous said...

To Sublime Oblivion. May be because the soviets(and now russians) call their "brothers((and now "former brothers") from near abroad "blacks and black asses"? And kill them on the streets just because they are different?!

Ani said...

They modified the costumes last night and ditched the "blackskin" look, but still made some silly monkey gestures and rubbed noses...The Olympics committee didn't really think this one through, though; I give them a #fail on this.

poemless said...

What I saw in the Olympics seemed silly, but not offensive. There was no blackface or anything. If I had not read in the news about the scandal, I would not have found their outfits racist, just another insanely cartoonish outfit and ridiculous performance in a field of cartoonish outfits and ridiculous performances. Were any of those dances authentic? Did anyone find the Israeli dance politically insensitive? I did not see one dance that wasn't a cutesy caricature or silly stereotype. Seems like the sport encourages quaintly outdated interpretations of culture.

Dmitri Minaev said...

Yo, man! I want a law forbidding anyone to paint their skin! Sun tanning is also a racist practice and should be banned. However, to prevent the possible consequences offensive racist sun tanning people should wear signs of their race: white shirts for Europeans, blue jeans for Americans, red stars for ex-Soviets, yellow stars of David for Jews and green leaves for blacks. Wearing green leaves is prohibited for all other races!

And then there will be peace on Earth...