Putting Taste On Ice: Controversies Swirl Around Ice Rinks In Japan and Russia

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-7-16-24-amBad taste on ice seems to be the theme this week. First, the wife of President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman faced a storm of criticism on Monday for performing a Holocaust-themed ice-dancing routine with striped costumes based on concentration camp uniforms. Then an ice rink in Kitakyushu, Japan, was shocked when skaters had objections to their arrangement of dead fish in frozen patterns under the ice for them to enjoy. For most skaters, Space World had them lost them at “hello.”

A skating rink placed thousands of dead fish frozen underneath the ice to spell out words and form patterns. There was something about skating over their lifeless bodies that took away from the joy of the moment for many. The owner tried to hype the display of 25 different kinds of fish as an “ice aquarium” but skaters found it more like an ice mausoleum. The pictures are actually gruesome with larger rays and 5000 fish laid out in the ice.

Space World spokesman General Manager Toshimi Takeda insisted that they “wanted customers to experience the feeling of skating on the sea, but after receiving criticism, we decided that we could not operate it any more.” Perhaps skating in the Dead Sea. (By the way, what happened to the idea of using fake fish? Did that not come up in the brainstorming session?)

The controversy in Japan is nothing compared to the one triggered by the skating Holocaust-on-ice number of Tatiana Navka, an Olympic ice dancing champion who is married to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who performed the routine with actor Andrei Burkovsky on a prime-time celebrity skating show. The dancers dressed up as concentration camp victims with black-and-white striped outfits with numbers and yellow stars used to mark Jews. The routine was performed to 1997 Oscar-winning Italian film “Life is Beautiful” and ends to the sound of gunfire.

The beaming smiles of the performers and wild applause did not sit well with many people. Dancer Ilya Averbukh, who is Jewish, called the objections nothing more than a display of “the craziness of today.” The dancers no doubt considered this to be a moving number of two human being overcoming utter hopelessness and hatred. From their perspective, it was not belittling but honoring the victims. From the perspective of some onlookers, however, the smiling skaters created a jarring and bizarre image.

What do you think? (Besides suggesting that the next show be held at the Space World ice rink in Kitakyushu, Japan.

7 thoughts on “Putting Taste On Ice: Controversies Swirl Around Ice Rinks In Japan and Russia

  1. The fish is the ice is a put-off for me. However, I think the concentration camp themed ice dancing is not out of line. They used the music from an appropriate movie and according to this article they were appropriately dress. I have read two novels and seen three documentaries on the Holocaust this year. Should only they be allowed?

  2. The ice skating on dead fish purposefully placed into the ice to evoke “skating on the sea” is tasteless at best. Someone has too much money and too little sense to play around with.

    The Russian dance is another matter. When an event such as the holocost becomes too sacrosanct to be put into art forms, more questions are raised than answered. For one, who is empowered to judge the sincerity and respect or disrespect of the performance? One gets the feeling that Russia and anything Putin is enough to disqualify with moral certainty any form of expression that is related.

    Anyone who lived in the US during the 1950’s can remember a high degree of antisemitism , the real kind, not the kind where if you have any criticism of Israel (a geopolitical entity) whatsoever, you are a rabid anti-Semite (ignorant of and against all who practice a Religion). So the US also, along with Russia, has a history of fairly acute antisemitism and we should remember also that we did not enter the war out of compassion for what was going on in Germany. We entered because Japan gave us a black eye in Pearl Harbor (although we probably would have entered anyway – but again not so much for humanitarian reasons as for business interests – money as usual – of our esteemed elite corporations that had interests in Europe). So is it the Israel-American-European grouping of interests that are so far above any blame regarding Jews and the Holocaust that they alone are to be deemed capable of defining what is and is not antisemitism and therefore also what is in good or bad taste with the attendant implications of pressure or control of freedom of expression?

    And speaking of freedom of speech, the recent Washington Post article black listing 200 web sites as under Russian influence or ignorant tools of Russia is a very significant event. Jill, a frequent member of the commentariat on this site was the first to bring up the WaPost article. While ludicrous and shameful, this McCarthy like list is also deeply sinister and since this site is a strong champion of freedom of speech, I for one (hopefully not the only one🙂 ), would deeply appreciate an article by Professor Turley not allowing this act to pass unnoticed on this site and giving his take, what ever that might be, on the article.

    Professor Turley might want to protest vehemently that this blog was not included on that list, though either way, his comments and thoughts would be important to all of us.

    • Note, I am mindful that Professor Turley has his own agenda and that this is not a short order cook house for requests. Also, that not touching on a given event does not in any way diminish this sites importance for freedom of speech (not a good enough at expressing myself to have made that part of the above).

  3. Russians don’t see anything special about the Holocaust,-they went through several “holocausts” of their own in the forms of the various Communist democides ( Red Terror, Holodomor, Great Purge, etc.) along with about 30 million killed in WW2.

  4. I find both to be very tasteless. However, the genocide of certain group of people is no more special than any other. This by itself if offensive.

  5. this is a very important story — to keep the sheeple from thinking about how the 1% are so greedy and callous -while always being helped by corrupt politicians of all stripes

  6. I don’t see anything wrong with the fish entombment. Someone does something out of the ordinary and there are those who get worked into a frenzy for anything “different”. These people need to chill out.

    I also don’t see the outrage when near beaches cities place sea shells and such into the drying concrete of new sidewalks to present a vernacular theme of the surroundings.

    For the Ice Ballet, again, an entire audience can roil in applause, and later one person is offended–evoking mention in the news. Then the show is cast into senseless controversy. If people don’t like a particular performance, the simplest solution available to them is to not purchase a ticket. It’s just that easy.

    My god, just leave people alone.

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