Saturday, December 18, 2010
Lighting The Eighth Candle: Oksana Baiul
Things got a bit hectic during Hanukkah this year, but it doesn't mean we've forgotten about our eighth fierce jew: Oksana Baiul. Wait, Oksana is Jewish? Didn't she always wear a cross and do the sign of the cross when she took her sweet ass time getting to center ice? Yes, yes she did. Later on, when Oksana discovered that her father was actually alive, she found out that she had Jewish roots. Like a good Jewish entrepreneur, Oksana began pimping herself out to every Jewish charity in order to rake in the appearance fees. The Chosen People accepted her with open arms, as she is fabulous and they always love to exploit their superiority. They buy her jewelry and her skating dresses, even if her knowledge of the faith doesn't extend beyond wearing a red bracelet and believing in mysticism.
We probably should've known that Oksana was Jewish. There were certainly signs.
1. Oksana has a deep love for Musical Theatre. She won her Olympic Gold Medal skating to a mix of showtunes that would've been difficult for a poor orphan from Odessa to see. Like most of her ambitious people, Oksana even tried to land herself a role on broadway with the uninspired 'Cold As Ice.' We're still waiting for Andy Cohen to realize that she is the key to keeping the Real Housewives brand afloat. Get some Russian bitches together.
2. Before Oksana became utterly drunk and unrecognizable, she sported a Lysenko-mane that one knows can only be washed once a week. The likeness is uncanny.
3. Despite a well-documented love of shopping, Oksana also knows to to pinch her pennies. She won both her World and Olympic titles skating to the same long program. Instead of hiring an expensive music-editing guru to create her music for professional competition, Oksana bought that Pure Moods CD for $14.99 during Saved By The Bell reruns on TBS and did it herself.
4. Oksana's signature expression stems from experiencing deep pain in her life. When she skates, one can feel the power and emotion of all of her oppressed people. She is all of Chernobyl, all of Israel.
Her dancing also roots from sneaking some Manischewitz at a few Bat Mitzvahs.
5. Her most important contribution to the chosen people is her inspiration to Hollywood. It extends far beyond her made-for-TV movie A Promise Kept: The Oksana Baiul Story. Ms. Baiul was actually the inspiration for the Oscar-buzz-receiving film Black Swan. Like Natalie Portman, Oksana had to deal with the descent into madness that comes from portraying both a white swan and the black swan.
While she skated to 'The Swan' and represented the dying swan, it also had the feel of Odette from Swan Lake. Her red heart on her white dress is eerily similar to Natalie Portman's red spot at the end of her esteemed film. While many ballet experts will argue that Oksana was just skating as the dying swan, it is important to remember that the unsophisticated American masses she was skating for didn't know the difference.
After Oksana skated as the black swan, her life was never the same. We all wondered whether she was indeed a Tay Sachs carrier after her demeanor at professional competitions. Oksana's Jewish spirit lived on, as her bouts with nerves kept her landing all jumps on two feet. Her Jewish ambition kept her inserting jumps anywhere and everywhere in her programs, even if she didn't have a prayer of landing them.
Like the saying goes Two Jews, Three Opinions. Oksana and Galina ended their partnership during the 96-97 season and her skating was never the same. Long gone was the little Orphan of Odessa. The black swan killed her, but her spirit lives on in every bottom who took the ice after being inspired by her.