Russian Ice Skaters Go Aboriginal…Offensive or Just Lame?
The Winter Olympics are lame, not just because they’re all about frolicking in the ice and snow, which is lame on it’s own. The weakness is in its blatant stepchild status to the Real Summer Olympics. Think about it: half of the summer sports have nothing to do with the need to be outside (volleyball, basketball, swimming, etc) and could easily be part of the Winter Olympics instead. That has second-fiddle written all over it, wouldn’t you say? And then there’s extra-lame sports like ice skating, whose costumes are pretty much always ridiculous, but then this kind of thing happens.
Russia’s Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin Aboriginal-themed costumes and dance stirred controversy during the Vancouver Winter Olympics Feb. 21, 2010. Australian media cited aboriginal leaders as complaining that the routine contained inauthentic steps and showy costumes. “It’s very offensive,” Sol Bellear of the New South Wales state Aboriginal Land Council said. “We see it as stealing Aboriginal culture and it is yet another example of the Aboriginal people of Australia being exploited.” Their coach, Natalia Linichuk, responded to the accusations, saying, “Aboriginal, it translates from Latin language, it’s from the beginning. We try to represent a picture of this time when Aboriginal people start being in the world. It’s no customs, no country, nothing.” (Reuters)
I’m not going to break out a poll for this one. I’m just sharing this image to try and wrap my own head around it because while I don’t consider Australian Aborigines “black,” I watched Spike Lee’s Bamboozled last night, maybe I’m being a little sensitive, and I’d love to hear your opinions.
I don’t think that these costumes particularly look Australian Aboriginal, but the skaters are definitely wearing some sort of “brown-face” body suiting that aside from being creepy is kind of racist. I know it’s an American thing to be offended by that kind of stuff but come on – know your audience. Meanwhile, the coach’s response that they were portraying the people of “no customs, no country, no culture” displays just why imperialism has thrived so well on this planet. There was no such a time, you vodka-swilling idiots. There are still hunter-gatherer societies that exist today and the perception that they have no customs or country is what keeps them oppressed geopolitically. Not to mention that they just have to be brown…not a good look, Oksana and Maxim.
What do you think?