One should not be surprised to learn that Russia has its own internet celebrities. And while many of them aren’t much different from those of the Anglosphere, some stand head and shoulders above the rest. Today allow me to introduce you to one such individual, Evgeniy Bazhenov, better known as “Bad Comedian.”
Bazhenov is most of all a film critic, and well known for his excellent take-downs of some of Russia’s worst films. I first got acquainted with him via his review of Burnt by the Son 2 (Утомлённые Солнцем 2), one of the most vile films ever to be made about the subject of the Great Patriotic War, and at the Russian taxpayer’s expense no less. I’m including one part of that review here in spite of the lack of English subtitles. If you are not fluent in Russian it will be difficult if not impossible to follow, but the viewer can at least get a taste of what he has to deal with.
For the non-Russian speaker let me just say this about that film. That film might as well have been made by Adolf Hitler. The Adolf Hitler, Fuhrer of the German Reich. Fuck it. This film is Hitler! The director, of course, was the delusional Nikita Mikhalkov, and it would not be any stretch of the imagination to say that he might actually believe the events of the film to be accurate. I mean in the sense that he might think he was actually there. Trust me, you don’t know this man the way I do. He went on TV once and read a 10,000 word manifesto about how to save Russia. Big shocker- turns out the solution is for Russians to be really religious and obedient to a strong leader who will tell them what to do and essentially treat them like children. Like most Russian patriots, Mikhalkov despises the Russian people and can’t help but depict them as utter idiots in his films. What more can you expect from a man who receives state money to defile the memory of the Great Patriotic War?
Money is something Bazhenov focuses on, that is to say he always shows you the budget of the film, its sponsorship, especially if it involved the Ministry of Culture, and the results, which are most often losses and not profits. I’ve even seen him describe it as a form of money laundering in an interview with the now-defunct Moscow News. This is a tragedy because with state funding far better films could be made. We Americans have good reason to be disappointed with Hollywood these days, but they are at the mercy of the market, and that severely restricts what they can do. With far less money than that required for a Hollywood summer blockbuster the Russian state could bankroll some truly amazing films, especially on subjects like the Great Patriotic War. Of course they could do that so long as they gave the money to a visionary director who uses the revolutionary historical film-making technique known as “reading history books” or hiring a handful of the thousands of historical reenactors one can easily find in Russia.
As far as I know, only one Bad Comedian video has English subtitles. It is a review of a PC game called Company of Heroes II and I highly recommend watching it. I can’t vouch for the quality of the subtitles as I only watched the Russian version.
Russian gamers felt really betrayed by that game because apparently they really liked the series. They must have been elated to hear that the sequel would take place on their front, but then devastated to find it full of ridiculous propaganda, stereotypes, and nonsensical things pulled directly out of the asses of the writer Quinn Duffy(no, not the actor). Like most contemporary games dealing with WWII in the USSR, the main source of “research” is the film Enemy at the Gates from 2001. Apparently you can legally rip off all kinds of things from films and put them in video games, as the original Call of Duty proved. Of course the saddest thing is that Russian-made films like Stalingrad(2013) and the Burnt by the Sun series make Enemy at the Gates look like a goddamned documentary.
Now if the reader has already seen a bit of Bad Comedian’s work, I want to head off a few criticisms which might come to the Western viewer’s mind. First, I realize that there is a strong urge to compare him to that unholy child of Satan himself, aka Nostalgia Critic, aka That Guy with the Glasses. I realize why that comparison comes to mind but the similarity is only superficial. First of all, Bad Comedian actually does reviews, whereas Nostalgia Critic always does these long commentaries which should be called synopses as opposed to reviews. Bad Comedian also doesn’t shoehorn in so many sketches or forced memes. Lastly, and most importantly, Bad Comedian does not screech while “stutter-cursing” and waving a toy gun around. More importantly, Bad Comedian actually has a cause, exposing the corruption and degeneracy of the modern Russian film-making industry. So rest assured, he’s no Nostalgia Critic.*
I regret that I could not find more of Bazhenov’s material in English or with subtitles, but I thought he deserves exposure to the Anglosphere. I’m confident that if people like him had the resources and the clout, they could seriously clean up Russia’s piss-poor film industry and turn it into something profitable and respectable not only in Russia, but the world.
*If you don’t know who Nostalgia Critic is, consider yourself fortunate. Google at your own risk.