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Monday, November 12, 2007

Verka Serduchka on Nash Holos

Since the discussion on this post has revolved around an off-topic comment about a Verka Serduchka selection that aired on the Nov. 4 broadcast of Nash Holos, I have re-posted the original post and retitled this one to make it more relevant to the discussion.

While I am thrilled to have visitors comment on any and all posts, I would respectfully ask that you please keep your comments relevant to the post. A comment about a selection on Nash Holos should be made on the corresponding update which I (usually) post every week after uploading the archives to the website.

The original post about the gorgeous new UPA song has been moved here. For anyone still interested in participating in the merits of Verka Serduchka on Nash Holos, in Ukraine and Russia, or wherever, this is the post to do it at, so go crazy! ;-)

Here's a YouTube video of the song that started it all:


Anonymous said...

While I do believe that a wide variety of music should be played on your program the choice of Verka Serduchka is a poor one.

For one the guy is a drag queen and still Ukraine chose him/her for the Eurosong contest. What a damn poor choice when there are plenty of other deserving artists.

Secondly this artist has openly supported Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions and their pro-Moscow leanings. This is reason enough not to be played on a Ukrainian program.

Anonymous said...

Serduchka's Eurosong winning song was a very satirical piece that likened Putin's Russia to the Nazis.

Drag queen or not, it has been one of the most provacative attacks on that despot.

Pawlina said...

Thanks, blackminora, I didn't realize that about Danzing but should have, I guess... Ukrainians being so clever and politically astute.

It could also explain why Verka suffered a bit of a setback in Russia where I understand s/he was very popular.

Pawlina said...

To the first commenter, thank you for sharing your opinion. I understand your point and appreciate where you are coming from.

However (there's always a "however" isn't there?) in the end my music choices are not governed by politics but by my listeners' musical preferences as well as my own.

Occasionally I will play stuff I'm not crazy about if it's popular with the listening public. And I never refuse a listener request if I have the tune or the artist in my music library.

The other factor is this thing called freedom of expression... a fundamental component of a functioning democracy.

The industry recently got a reminder of that reality with the Dixie Chicks brouhaha in which some stations tried to ban them over derogatory comments one of the artists made about U.S. President George W. Bush.

Another thing to consider is what if Verka for some reason decided to switch political sides? What then?

Or in the (highly improbable but not entirely impossible) event that Yanukovych might start working for the good of Ukraine?

As a producer and host, my purpose is to promote Ukrainian music and culture, not politicians or political views. (The Orange Revolution was a bit of an exception, largely because of its novelty as well as the historical significance of a million Ukrainians demonstrating peacefully in the streets of Kyiv.)

Also, please keep in mind that the Verka Serduchka selection aired because of a listener request. If you feel there are "more deserving artists" then please let me know who they are with a request of your own.

After all, if you are a listener then you will hear me invite your "suggestions, dedications, and requests" on every single program!

Taras said...

I would have to agree that Serduchka is an ill-equipped ambassador of Ukrainian culture, even though she’s popular in and outside of Ukraine as an artist.

Serduchka made a career out of vulgarizing Ukrainian culture alongside Russian stereotypes. She jeopardized that career when she interpolated “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” her #2 Eurovision song, with “Russia goodbye,” a prank that infuriated the Kremlin and Russian showbiz.

Some say Danylko miscalculated and bit the hand that fed him. Still, others say he simply grew tired of pampering Russia’s superiority complex, and decided to graduate from his perennial Serduchka role.

As for Yanukovych’s conversion, I remain highly skeptical:) Unlike — hopefully — Danylko, Yanukovych is a one-role actor through and through.

Pawlina said...

See, that's the thing ... I think it's important to allow people to exonerate themselves.. especially public personas. ;-)

They say there is none so zealous as a convert. If that's what Verka turns out to be, then s/he may even end up doing a reasonable job as cultural ambassador for Ukraine in the future.

After all, the number of YouTube hits is astounding ... over 4 million in total for the Danzing videos. So if Verka has helped put Ukraine on the map with a novelty act that portrays a sense of humour, that can't be a totally bad thing.

You make a valid point about the vulgarization of Ukrainian culture. However, isn't that merely a reflection of the pop music industry globally? Not saying I condone it, but the way I see it is that if more artists who produce less vulgar art worked as hard to sell it, Verka et. al. might just feel compelled to clean up their acts in order to stay competitive.

Taras said...

Serduchka is special. In Russia, she stole the spotlight with her virtuoso command of surzhyk, a cultural parody that stereotyped Ukrainians as bohunks. She also exploited the same-sex theme, a voter-getter strategy that culminated in her posing as a drag queen at Eurovision.

Serduchka relates to Ukrainian culture as Borat relates to Kazakh culture. However, there’s a key distinction in these two characters. With the notable exception of the “Russia goodbye” episode, Serduchka employed unidirectional satire, while Borat employed multidirectional satire.

Btw, I have a post on the subject.

Anonymous said...

Whether your listener likes it or not, Verka Serduchka is a legitimate player on the popular music scene today in Ukraine.

He (she?) is reviving an old Ukrainian tradition of "batiars'ki" or bawdy drinking songs, often steeped in parody and, quite frankly, lyrically very clever.

I play him quite often, whenever a story mentions him, or when (as in your case) he is requested. You're right... we're here to serve all kinds of tastes and preferences...

And in the final analysis, as radio broadcasters isn't it our job to expose our listeners to stuff that they might not otherwise seek out on their own?
Otherwise, we're just ethereal jukeboxes.

Roman Brytan
Radio Zhurnal, Edmonton

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't play VS extensively, but VS is a Ukr phenomenon that can't
be ignored - and was after all the Ukr representation at the
Eurovision song contest.
I thought his tongue-in-cheek comment explaining the title of the
song entry that caused such a fuss in Russia was wonderful :
" It's not 'Russia goodbye' it's 'lasha tumbai', which is "churned
milk" in Mongolian."
But at any rate, I can't decide whether I am pleased or embarrassed
to admit that I don't have any VS music .....
I do have Hutsul Huligan, though (or as it's named, Hutsul KHulihan !! )
Ottawa Ukrainian Radio
97.9 FM

Taras said...

Sorry for offtopicking, Pawlina. I just wanted to set the record straight on Seduchka’s cultural profile.

Prior to her Eurovision stunt, Serduchka, a faux-female train attendant, ran The SV Show on Channel 1+1. The show, syndicated in Russia, featured the crème de la crème of Russian showbiz chit-chatting with Serduchka in her humble abode, a sleeping car.

So, sitting in this allegorical lounge, the Russian stars exuded confidence and brilliance, while Serduchka showered them with her side-splitting surzhyk. Make no mistake: Serduchka did a fantastic job of painting Ukraine as the land of dumb and folksy “little Russians.”

Of course, millions of Sovietized Ukrainians are fine with that picture. They tend to vote for the Party of Regions and for the Communist Party.

That’s why I think it’s important that Ukrainian Canadians who appreciate Serduchka’s talent understand the full scope of that character.

Pawlina said...

Hey Taras,

I understand where you're coming from, and don't necessarily disagree... personally. But remember, I wear two hats (or more).

I have to admit that my first (personal) reaction to Verka Serduchka was one of horror, dismay and disbelief.

That being said, as a radio producer, I did eventually come around to agreeing with my colleagues Roman and Irena that it's good to expose our listeners to music they might otherwise not expose themselves to!

Professionally, I rather consider Verka Serduchka akin to Ashley MacIsaac and the old Monty Python pepperpots. They are novelties, parodies, court jesters if you will. Not to be taken seriously as cultural ambassadors, other than in the sense that "the only bad publicity is no publicity."

I think that's how Canadian Ukrainians regard Verka Serduchka. It is the mark of maturity to be able to laugh at oneself while retaining a strong sense of self-worth. It's understandable that proud Ukrainians trying to shake off the yoke of Russian imperialism would be appalled by this act. But Canadians are not fooled by the act, nor cowed, nor humiliated. Most of us are basically just ... well, amused.

And for the record, most of us do appreciate the more cultured cultural ambassadors. Unfortunately, few of them are as adept at attracting attention to themselves as Verka...

But if they were to excel at self-promotion, I do believe that "class acts" would in very short order outshine the "crass acts" currently hogging the spotlight. ;-)

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