Russia – I Won’t Break

Julia Samoylova is being used, and Russia should be ashamed.

Samoylova is the contestant who was chosen by Russia last year with the song Flame is Burning, seemingly on the basis of being the perfect poster girl for causing a political confrontation with the Ukraine. She has spinal muscular atrophy, and uses a wheelchair. She also performed in the Crimea following Russia’s annexation of this territory, meaning that she would, under Ukrainian law, be banned from entering the country.

Russia was obviously counting on a headline that read: “Ukraine bars disabled performer from Eurovision.” What could be less love love peace peace than that?

Last year, I had no sympathy for Samoylova. She is an adult, and I figured that if she wanted to have her image used in such an exploitative way, it was what she had signed up for when she agreed to do Eurovision.

Because she was barred from the 2017 contest, Russia brought her back for the 2018 contest. But this year, they seem to be doing everything in their power to make you forget she’s even representing Russia. Samoylova is mostly enclosed (and hidden) in a giant model of a mountain – no sign of her wheelchair can be found. The performance is almost immediately focused not on her or her vocals, but on two well-built ballet dancers, who, in the course of the performance, move to a secondary stage entirely, so as to further reduce the focus on Samoylova. And, saddest of all, the backup vocals dominate Samoylova’s voice, meaning that her performance is buried under a wall of sound.

Russia, if you chose Samoylova to perform, you should let her actually perform, without hiding her behind all these gimmicks. Shame on you.

TWITTER JOKES YOU SHOULDN’T BOTHER MAKING BECAUSE THEY’VE ALREADY BEEN DONE BETTER BY THE EUROFANDOM: No jokes, actually. We’re all a bit queasy watching this sordid spectacle.

SHOULD YOU TAKE A PEE BREAK DURING HIS PERFORMANCE: Yes. Turn off the TV. Leave the room. Just avoid the erasure at all costs.

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