This Russian reality TV performance was tasteless to say the least, but it only finished the job that was started by the 1997 film Life is Beautiful
Just when you thought 2016 couldn’t do anything else to us. Just when you thought 2016’s appetite for cruelty had been sated, it does this. The Russian ice-dancer and former Olympic skater Tatiana Navka (and wife of Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov) performed a routine with her partner Andrei Burkovsky on Russian TV’s ice-dancing show Ice Age, dressed in concentration camp uniforms, each with yellow star. They moved soulfully around the ice to music from Roberto Benigni’s 1997 Holocaust film Life Is Beautiful, which avowedly inspired the whole thing. Barking dogs were audible over the music, then machine gun fire.
The routine got top marks from the TV judges. But other commentators, including Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt, were horrified: “Have you no shame?” she asked. For me, the most disturbing moment came in one of the judges’ remarks. Karen Shakhnazarov said it was a “performance that relays well the essence and the spirit of the film”. The awful thing is … that’s probably true. There is a certain type of middleweight tragi-humanist approach, desperately well-meaning but misjudged, tricked out with ersatz classiness, that is most worrying. And Benigni’s Oscar-winning film is the key text. Navka’s ice twirl was horrendous, but she took her cue from celluloid prestige.