A RUSSIAN late-night TV show has come under fire after its sketch featured an actress caricaturing ex-president Barack Obama in blackface with gold chains and a bandana.
Obama’s recent memoir wasn’t the only subject of ridicule on Russian state-controlled RT’s evening political satire show Mezhdunarodnaya Pilorama, or “International Sawmill,” on Saturday night.
After mocking Obama’s memoir, “A Promised Land,” host Tigran Keosayan held a fake interview with an actress playing the president in a racist skit.
“We now go live to the dark page of America’s history, Barack Obama,” Keosayan joked when the camera splits into two to show the actress in blackface while wearing a red bandana, gold chains and an oversized shirt.
The actress then begins a series of exaggerated gestures in which she tosses each hand over the other and continues to cross her hands wildly across the screen while describing the former president as a “chocolate bunny.”
When Keosayan cuts to the fake Obama, the actress ridicules the Black Lives Matter movement by chanting the phrase – a slogan used in protests across the country against police brutality of African Americans and other minorities.
The chanting didn’t last long before Keosayan cut off the actress and says “there’s no racism in Russia.”
The racist skit doubled down into insensitive tropes, with Keosayan and the actress implying Obama’s family was illiterate and that Obama should go into rap.
Keosayan asked the impersonator
“do you consider this book your achievement?”
The actress nodded before responding “none of my relatives that came before me could write.” When asked what the most important part of the book was for Obama, the actress responds
The host then tells the actress
“you should have been a rap musician” after the woman, when asked to cite a passage from Obama’s memoirs, performs a Donald Trump-themed rhyme.
The racist sketch came to an end after Keosayan advocated people would be better off “reading the label on the bathroom air freshener” than read Obama’s memoir.
The vile sketch was met with plenty of backlash on social media, including from noted Kremlin critic Alexi Navalny, who took to Twitter to explain Keosayan is married to Kremlin-controlled RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan.
“The author and screenwriter of the program is Margarita Simonyan,”
“Together with her husband, [Keosayan], they receive for each issue in the region of [$65,000]. And I remind you that Keosayan sent his daughter to study in New York.”
Other Russian users also cried foul of the sketch, with some comments calling the clip “garbage” and ignoring Obama’s calm demeanor and accomplishments. The clip soon spread throughout the world, with many calling for Simonyan to answer for airing the racist sketch.
In a tweet thread, Simonyan, called one of the world’s most influential women in media, attempted to use her husband’s Armenian ethnicity as an excuse to dissuade critics of the sketch, which she called a
“parody of Obama.”
“As someone who is part of an ethnic minority in Russia, Tigran regularly makes fun, on the air, of his large ‘ethnic’ nose and his belonging to a ‘black’ community (look it up if you don’t know which ethnicities are referred to as ‘black’ in Russia),” she wrote.
“The failure of The Times to understand the nuances of various ethnic tensions in different countries and its attempts to transfer the specific legacy traumas of the Anglo-Saxon world onto the world…,” she continued, adding The Times sent her a request for comment.
“…where such injustices had never come to pass are the most obvious trademarks of the multi-century racist imperialism. The racism had simply changed colors.”