Yesterday Madonna’s world tour  had a stop in Bucharest. 60,000 people were said to be present at her concert.  I like her music and I was curious to see how it was. Before the concert the journalist reported in great detail the preparation for this concert.

According to the news that surfaced the online media channels the night after the concert Madonna had “Romania at her feet” and it was a historical concert.  The organizational problems or fact that, unlike other artists that came to Bucharest, she did not say a word in Romanian were also mentioned.

In the concert a “gypsy moment” took place where Madonna sang  “La isla bonita” and Lela Pala Tute a song in Romani (The Madness Of Love).

Madonna added:

“Now, I’ve been paying attention to news reports and it’s been brought to my attention that there’s a lot of discrimination against Romanis and Gypsies in general in Eastern Europe. And I feel very sad, because I don’t believe in discrimination against anyone. We believe in freedom and equal rights for everyone. Gypsies, homosexuals, people who are different, everyone is equal and should be treated with respect, OK? Let’s not forget that!”

That evening  the moment was mentioned only tangentially in newspapers and the public’s reaction was noted by few (I found only one but I am not sure whether they also mentioned it in the printed version – I’ll have to check that). In the heart of Bucharest Madonna was booed when she asked people to respect the others.

Sky News found that this event deserves more than a line and published the “Madonna Booed Over ‘Sad’ Gypsy Abuse” article. The news spread on international media, Associated Press also mentioned it.  Then the Romanian online media started to talk about public’s reaction and how it was inappropriate. They questioned people’s reaction. From the readers’ comments I gather that the TV channels did not mention the “gypsy moment” at all. A number of hours after the news was out (half a day after the event took place) several discussions started online on this topic.

Romania seems surprised. The readers are asked:

Why do you think Madonna sent this message ?:

  • to teach Romanian a lesson about being tolerant
  • to build up her image
  • to make sure her concert will not be soon forget.

First the incident  is not important enough to be talked about in our media, until the international press underlines it. Then we start talking about it. (How we talk about it is another story!)

That is how the conversation about  tolerance takes place in  Romania. I feel like  Romanian leaders hope  we will become a truly democratic country  following the same pattern:  EU will notice our mistakes and will show them to us so that the people  can learn not to make them anymore.

In the “gypsy moment” with Madonna, the public could see (and be vocal about it) that foreigners  say Romanians are no tolerant but in the same time they don’t even know us.  People cannot understand why Madonna would touch or care about a wound that is not hers, a wound  that we don’t even know we have.

Similarly, people cannot understand most of the EU’s regulations and policies and why are those affecting their life. Why does Brussels think they  know us? We never talked with them, they never talked with us. EU will be booed in Romania as long as people will continue to see it as a group of foreigners telling them what to do…in a different language.

When will we learn to be tolerant with Romani people? Well, as you can see, we are in denial about this.