Abi Collins – Une Femme Exposée

12:45pm, 20th July 2014 – Watch This Space, St Johns Church

Lazy stereotypes can be very very funny if they target the right group. And this was very very funny. Water off a Russian ducks back. After all, it’s only a bit of fun.

Everyone was laughing. Quite right. The diminutive performer was expertly funny. We were crying with joy as she lined up men from the audience to dance dressed in showman underpants, carrying her aloof in a desperate ape of Hollywood glamour from a frumpy poor spinster. It was genuinely hilarious. She could also hula 10 hoops at once! Her stagecraft gently guided our cheers for her volunteers towards herself. It was just a bit of fun.

“Me a sexy Soviet girl looking for handsome passport husband” said Katrina in this one ex-ballerina spoof. We got endless Russian jokes. Russian ballerinas, Russian internet brides, Russian accents, Russian boobs, Russian mafia, Russian communists, Russian disasters. Yes, the Russian disaster joke was repeated a few times. Oh how we laughed.

It was just a bit of fun. Yet in these brief moments of shared laughter culture is shaped. It occurred to me the English performer would be less likely to present us with such negative stereotypes of say an Irish or Indian person. Or just about any other person really. Possibly an American. But even that would not be so lightly accepted without a thought. It was the obvious lack of recognition that a stereotype was even being drawn that jarred with this old gal.

It was just a bit of fun. It did occur to me if the performer could as easily have joked about disasters other than Chernobyl. Ethiopian famine survivor jokes anyone? 911 survivors? Of course not. It is unimaginable. It would not be funny. And it would not get a family entertainer gigs with the NT.

It was just a bit of fun. All the more acceptable if the fun reinforces main stream propaganda. It’s not as if culture has any meaning nor artists any responsibility beyond cheap laughs. So what if we pass off Ukrainian music as Russian. It’s not important. No one cares. It’s just a bit of fun. Who cares that we are today fighting a proxy war in Ukraine against Russia. It’s not important. It’s a laugh.

All my other friends they dies in Chernobyl. LOL.

All my other friends they dies in Chernobyl. LOL.

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