Friday, January 22, 2010

And the GOB goes to...

Here's a good rule of thumb for foreign relations amateurs: Don't offend an entire culture.

This week's GOB award (named for Will Arnett's hapless character on Arrested Development, and awarded to an individual, group or insitution that's "made a huge mistake" in international communication) goes to Russian ice-skating duo Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin. As reported here and here, Domnina and Shabalin have offended Australian aboriginals with their loin-clothed interpretation of a native aboriginal dance, inviting the condemnation of indigenous leader Bev Manton for disrespectful, exploitative behavior.

It seems unlikely that offending the minority population of a foreign country was among the pair's main objectives, but it's hard to imagine who approved this idea. And given Domnina and Shabalin's Olympic hopes, it's fair to expect a little cultural awareness and sensitivity in their public performances. But perhaps we're overthinking this. Is it possible that Shabalin was simply looking for an excuse to staple a fake marijuana leaf to his forehead? Oksana, Domnina, this is for you.

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