Thursday, June 02, 2011

Russian TV Satirizes Gay Pride
With 'West Side Story' Skit

The most interesting bit of news in an opinion piece in today's Moscow Times about the violent gay pride attempt on Saturday, was not the criticism against organizer Nikolai Alekseev. What fascinated me was this passage:

The day of the parade was also the professional holiday of the Border Guards, when officers past and present walk around in uniform and get dead drunk, adding an extra layer of risk.

Channel One’s mock news show “Yesterday Live” imagined what might have happened if City Hall had permitted the march and the two sides had gotten together to celebrate, in a surprisingly tolerant comedy sketch.

A news reader in a satin jacket reads from a pink page against a gay rights flag. “It would be curious to see gays and border guards marking their holiday on the same day,” he says.

The sketch shows stereotypically mincing gay activists in Village People outfits and boas fraternizing with the swaggering border guards in stripy vests. “We’ve waited 17 years for Luzhkov to leave,” one says, referring to the openly homophobic mayor, sacked in September.

The two sides join for a “West Side Story”-style dance routine to the tune of the song “America” with a joke about the sexual orientation of the pop singers at the traditional concert for the border guards.

At the end, the two groups separate, but one border guard confusedly stays with the gay group, before running back to his brothers in arms with a scream of alarm.

My curiosity piqued, I quickly found the site for the Russian channel and the almost hour-long show containing the skit, but had no way to snip out just the pertinent segment.

I turned to a tech-buddy, the fabulous Andres Duque of the Blabbeando blog, and requested that he cut out just the skit and make into a YouTube vid for me. Soon enough, Andres did us all a favor and created this vid excerpt, with the sound slightly not in sync with the performers:

After another episode of violence at Nikolai's pride march, it is offensive that a TV show would make light of the bashings and thuggery. On the other hand, the skit is what Nikolai was desperate for - any and all media attention. Well, he got it.

Those concerns aside, I am impressed that Russians are familiar enough with "West Side Story" to the point where it serves as the foundation for a TV musical comedy sketch.

Wonder if the Russian TV writers and producers are aware that the creators of the Broadway classic - the late Arthur Laurents, Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein - were bisexual or gay, and the very much still-alive Stephen Sondheim is also gay.

(Muchas gracias, Andres of Blabbeando!)

1 comment:

Michael Zonta said...

This is a wonderful skit especially when some on the assumed straight side become confused as to which side they are on.