LETTER FROM MOSCOW
Let’s face it, for the faint of heart, the difference is a bit hard to swallow. In 2019, the last year the competition was held, Russia was represented at Eurovision by Sergei Lazarev – a pleasant tone of voice, but nothing that does not denote the rather dull and syrupy canons of the event.
After the break due to the coronavirus, here comes Manizha. A nightmare for all that the country has traditionalist minds: woman, rapper, immigrant, feminist. Add to this that Russia is one of those mysterious countries where Eurovision causes excitement close to that of a World Cup final and you will have an idea of the emotion provoked by this enumeration.
Her number, the 29-year-old woman begins in traditional Tajik dress, the country where she was born and from which her parents were driven out by the civil war of the early 1990s. Manizha Sangin, by her full name, had already mentioned in his songs his double identity, making fun of prejudices on the Slavs as much as on the Tajiks, who are often at the bottom of the social ladder in Russia.
It did not take more to trigger a wave of perfectly uninhibited xenophobic comments on social networks and in ultra-nationalist circles. The daily Komsomolskaya Pravda went so far as to publish the opinion piece of a well-known far-right commentator claiming that the singer was not allowed to represent Russia since she was not born there. Several politicians have supported this theory.
On stage, Manizha Sangin then appears in a red jumpsuit on which is written “Russian Woman”, the title of her song and… the heart of the matter. Because the artist does not call himself a feminist to amuse the gallery – and moreover, the concept itself has a willingly negative connotation, associated with the multiple deviations from the West.
She has long been committed to domestic violence, a subject that is far from straightforward in Russia. The singer also openly supports, for a long time, the rights of homosexuals.
“Delusions” and “degrading” image
Above all, she made her song a manifesto. Extract, in Russian: “You are already 30 years old, hello, where are the children? Overall you’re not bad, but maybe you should lose weight … Dress longer, dress shorter. You grew up without a father, but do what you’re told. Listen, you and I are not a herd. Go crows, now steer clear. ” The chorus, in English, is even clearer: “Every Russian woman should know this… You are strong enough to break through any wall. “
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