The Unkindest Cut


A few months ago, a dipshit from England contacted me to inquire as to whether I wanted to host some advertising on this site for the Untold Music Festival that’s currently ongoing in Cluj. In exchange, he didn’t want to pay me any money, only offer me free tickets, so I turned him down.

For one, I live roughly 1,000 kilometers from Cluj these days. And two, I’ve never attended a music festival in my life. Standing in the hot sun while listening to techno just isn’t my scene.

Furthermore, I still don’t know why the hell the festival is called “Untold.” There’s some cockamamie story about a wizard lost in a forest that makes me think I just don’t take enough drugs.

But I know a lot of people who do like music festivals, and I’m always happy when something good happens to Cluj. And so I was glad to scroll through some exuberant posts on Facebook and Instagram from friends, colleagues, and other folks I know as they shared what a wonderful time they were having.

Until I got to this post, which made me see red.

Bastard Cousins

Over the years, I’ve always been completely disgusted by the way that Romanians treat Moldovans. Whether it’s jokes about people from Romanian Moldova or the nation of Moldova, I never did understand why you’d want to insult and belittle the one group of people on earth who speak your language and share your culture and history.

And while I won’t repeat any of them here, I’ve heard some pretty fucking racist and sexist jokes. I’ve had to read pointless attacks on Moldova in Romanian newspapers and listen to Romanians tell me that every Moldovan woman is a slut, including by association, my wonderful wife.

And I’m not even counting all the high-handed moralizing about Moldova that pours out of Romanian politicians’ fat mouths on a regular basis even when they’re too stupid to hire somebody who actually knows anything about the country.

Fine, then, there are lots of stupid people about. Which is why it hurt so much to read such hateful racist words from Robin Molnar, a man I’ve not only met in person but whom I’ve admired for years for his steadfast and active participation in protests against corruption, health care cuts, and evil trade agreements.

Nonetheless, here’s exactly what he wrote (my translation) about his experiences of the Untold festival this year:

Concerning the music, I don’t have much to say except for one thing.

Dear Alexandrina: If you’re going to play the Untold festival and you start off your set with a song in the Russian language, I perceive this as you making fun of me and of all Romanians because we in Romania, we do not live or feel like Russians.

What the bloody fuck is this?

First of all, Alexandrina was born and raised in Chisinau, Moldova. She’s the daughter of a famous singer, and she’s been performing since she was 8 years old. She’s now an internationally acclaimed artist who sings in Romanian, French, and Russian.

Therefore, if you don’t want to hear her sing, don’t go fucking listen to her at the festival! There are lots of simultaneous acts going on, so pick a different one for chrissakes.

Furthermore, I’ve dug through hundreds of social media posts from other people at the festival, and not a single one complained about her music being in Russian. Why would they? That’s what she’s been doing since her career began. If you like her music, then fine. If you don’t, nobody cares. I honestly don’t like her music much myself.

But it’s the “making fun of me and all Romanians” part that has me most concerned.

No Man Is an Island

Maybe I’m just old, but I remember a time long before Cluj had any festivals at all, and every young person in Transylvania would head over to Budapest for the Sziget Festival. Hell, it’s still one of the most popular festivals in all of Europe, and I’m damn sure there are some Romanians there this summer as well.

But here’s the most important bit:

The week-long festival has grown from a relatively low-profile student event in 1993 to become one of the prominent European rock festivals, with about half of all visitors coming from outside Hungary.

Woah! It takes place in Hungary, but it’s not exclusively for Hungarians. What an outrage.

And the same is true for Untold, you racist motherfucker. It’s a pan-European festival, not a fucking folklore event celebrating the heritage of the Great and Noble Romanian People Uber Alles. You might figure that out by the name of the goddamn thing, which is in English.

In fact, here are the headline acts from the first year of Untold and their country of origin:

Tom Odell – Britain
ATB – Germany
Dmitri Vegas & Like Mike – Belgium/Greece
Avicii – Sweden
Armin van Buren – Netherlands
David Guetta – France

Hmm… looks like not a single Romanian at all! I might be wrong here, but I’m starting to think this Untold thing is an international event. Gee, are those acts “making fun” of Romanians when they speak or sing in French, Dutch, Swedish, Greek, German, or English?

Nah, of course not. It’s only singing in Russian that got your panties in a twist.

Which I find really weird because I spent 10 goddamn years in Cluj and it’s one of the most international cities in Europe, one of the reasons why I loved it so much. Hell, there’s a kulturzentrum, an institut francais, and even a 文化センター (Japanese center) in dear old sweet Cluj.

And even though I don’t give two shits about concerts or festivals, I personally have heard music groups singing in Russian in bars in Cluj. Yes, that’s right. And people were clapping and enjoying the music even if they didn’t understand what was being sung. That’s because good music is good music.

But some people who were listening did understand Russian. You know why? That’s because they were Moldovans. And Bulgarians. And Hungarians. And Latvians. And Finns. And Ukrainians. And Lithuanians. And Germans.

Oh, what’s that? Germans don’t speak Russian? That’s funny because the Chancellor of Germany herself, Angela Merkel, speaks perfect Russian. And doing so has helped her be a better leader.

In fact, Russian is both an official UN language and the largest native language in Europe. Hell, if Europe had a single language, it’d be Russian. It’s also the seventh-largest language in the fucking world by number of speakers, waaaaay the hell more than Romanian.

And last but not least, you do realize there is a fucking member of parliament in Romania that is from the Russian-speaking Lipoveni minority, right? Oh, oops.

And if you ever go to Tulcea County, you’ll even see road signs written in Russian. Gasp!

I guess there’s one huge conspiracy out there dedicated to making fun of you, son.

Acid Redux

If you want to wear opinci and dance the hora while singing about the little tarancuta, take your ass up to Baia Mare. But if you’re attending a pan-European trance and rock festival in Cluj, get off your goddamn racist high horse.

But first you better cover your ears because here’s Alexandrina singing in Russian (Выбери меня – Choose me):

If you don’t like the Russian government or its leaders, fine. I don’t like them much myself.

But if you honestly think a Moldovan daring to speak or sing in one of the world’s most popular languages at an international music festival is a threat to your identity, you need to get some psychological help.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. damjanbnz says:

    Hi Sam, we’ve met in Cluj some years ago, while I was about to leave Romania. I have Moldovan friends I met in Rome and I have met their daughter in Bucharest. I found it very funny that they were impressed by my supposedly “Bucharest accent” and were enchanted by the way I spoke Romanian. Then I spoke to their daughter and found out why: as she moved to Bucharest, she had to learn to speak without Moldovan accent, in order not to be framed as a “curva”. Very sad indeed.

    Like

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