It's the most surprising opening ceremony act since Voldemort appeared at the London Olympics. According to the Wall Street Journal, Russian dance-pop act t.A.T.u of "All The Things She Said" fame are rumoured to be opening the Sochi Olympics. During their short-lived pop career, Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova were best known for dressing up as schoolgirls, kissing in the rain, and offending Smiths fans by covering "How Soon Is Now".
Earlier this week, the duo tweeted that they were going to perform at the Games but later deleted the post and has since declined to comment.
To an outsider, it might seem totally bizarre that Russia would haul two faded faux-lesbian pop stars out of retirement for its Opening Ceremony, especially two who used to make out while dressed as schoolgirls. The recent anti-gay propaganda law, which is specifically targeted at protecting young children (irony!), has been linked to an increase in vigilantism and brutal LGBT hate crimes. Despite the efforts of Pussy Riot and LGBT activists like Lena Klimova, political and sexual repression seems likely to continue in the country.
For months, human rights activists have been warning that the Russian government is allowing serious human rights rights abuses to happen under its nose in the lead-up to the Olympics – earlier today, UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon added his voice to the protests, telling the International Olympic Committee that "hatred of any kind must have no place in the 21st century."
On one hand, the choice of t.A.T.u as the opening act is just another example of the 2014 Winter Olympics descending into farce. There's already a Twitter account, @SochiProblems, which details the various Lynchian nightmares journalists have encountered on arriving in Sochi – its discoveries have included bedside portraits of an unblinking Putin, ramps leading to nowhere, and yellow running water.
On the other, it could be a stroke of marketing genius: how better to counter accusations of state-sanctioned homophobia by trotting out Russia's most famous lesbians, albeit two who later married men? It's an exercise in spin, hoping that the warm fuzzy '00s nostalgia entailed by t.A.T.u lip-syncing "running through my head, running through my head, running through my head" will act as a PR-friendly cover-up.
While LGBT men and women are persecuted and literally hunted down for their sexuality, the Russian Olympic Committee is desperately hoping the rest of the world will look the other way.
Don't buy the hype.
Follow Zing Tsjeng on Twitter here @misszing
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