Tag Archives: Crimean Tatars

Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Eyes to See

What is the worst combination you could possibly imagine? Skittles on Chicago-style pizza? Mayonnaise Pop-Tarts? Automatic weapons for toddlers? I’ve got a pretty good contender. How about the worst film genre in existence, i.e. romantic comedy, and Russian propaganda about the Crimea? Not sold just yet? What if I told you this very real rom-com was scripted by none other than RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan? Yes. You read that correctly. Yes, I am going to subject you to this. I know about it, so now you must know about it. This is happening.

I realize some readers can’t fully understand that trailer, but rest assured it is a delightfully romantic romp that involves flagrant violations of international law as well as human rights! What’s next? A German rom-com where two star-crossed lovers are reunited in East Prussia when the Third Reich invades Poland? After all, Germany was merely trying to protect the German civilian population from a right-wing nationalist Polish government whose troops attacked several German border posts and a radio station!

But if this weren’t bad enough, the film apparently contains a subplot about the Crimean Tatars, and, as you might expect, it’s pretty ugly. Here are a few excerpts from the above-linked article.

“The film offers an unlikely take on the issue of Crimean Tatars. It opens with a young Crimean Tatar boy named Damir recalling how the original Kerch Strait bridge, a temporary wartime construction, was destroyed by winter ice in early 1945.

The scene is improbable at best, since the entire Crimean Tatar population was ruthlessly deported from the peninsula in 1944 by Stalin. In fact, Simonyan’s masterpiece was filmed just a few dozen kilometers from the Arabat Spit, where the last pockets of Crimean Tatars who had escaped deportation were loaded onto a boat that was then scuttled in the Sea of Azov, drowning all aboard.

Damir, however, grieves because the destroyed bridge separates him from his wartime love, a Russian girl named Raya, who has gone missing.

Damir is a forgiving type. At one point, discussing his own family’s fate under Stalin, he says simply, “They were sent away — that means it had to be.” At other points in the film, he has approving words for Stalin.”

Needless to say, not only was the situation for Crimean Tatars in the past very different from what is portrayed in the film, but the present is as well. Since the annexation Crimean Tatars have been subject to all manner of human rights violations, including torture and in at least one case, death. The whitewashing of both eras is a perfect example of how the Muscovite chauvinist regime views non-Muscovite nationalities within its grasp. “You will have your history dictated to you, and you may keep your culture and language so long as it doesn’t offend us.” 

The word ‘disgusting’ simply doesn’t suffice to describe this subplot.

As for the rest of the film, let’s just say this isn’t Russia’s first rodeo when it comes to feature length propaganda films about the Crimean annexation. There was also this piece of shit:

As bad as this may be, at least it’s not a rom-com; it’s clearly just a comedy. On the other hand, that 2017 film wasn’t written by Margarita Simonyan.

Now I know a lot of people, Americans included, will chime in with something about propaganda in Hollywood films. Sure, they certainly do (although in my opinion it’s more a matter of steering clear of certain taboo subjects more than anything), but rest assured modern Russian cinema blows them out of the water in terms of on-the-nose messaging. And whereas Hollywood will often liberally reinterpret real events to tell a better story, films like this basically invent a story out of thin air. If the examples above don’t convince you of this, check out the trailer for this upcoming Russian film, seemingly trying to capitalize off Ukraine’s Cyborgs, called Balkan Line.

In case you’re too young or not familiar with the 1999 Kosovo conflict I’ll help you out- none of that shit happened. It’s as if the Russian producers looked at Cyborgs, saw how well it did, and decided they just needed their own war film about an airport under siege. And since they couldn’t find a real one, they just made one up. In real life, the Russian airborne contingent who rolled into Pristina airport was totally isolated, and the whole situation was defused with the help of James Blunt. Yes, James “You’re Beautiful” Blunt. And it’s a good thing the Russians didn’t try anything because if you’ve ever seen Blunt on Twitter you know he’s no pushover.

But yeah, American Sniper sucks, but just imagine that almost every Hollywood film is American Sniper x 100, and your tax dollars are used to churn them out. Sounds great, right?

Honestly though, I’m wondering how far Margarita will go in the world of screenwriting. At the same time, I wonder how far the Russian film industry will go in the world of making up shit that never happened. Perhaps next we’ll see a film about how the Soviets actually landed on the moon first. The sky’s truly the limit when your film industry is a state-sponsored money laundering vehicle!

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That Guy: This is Why People Hate You II

Have you ever met That Guy? Maybe you met him in high school. Maybe it was in college or in the military. I think you know That Guy. There are many That Guys but this particular That Guy is the individual who always explains his failures by way of some glitch, fluke, or foul play on the part of his opponent. He would have won that sparring match, but his opponent used an “illegal move.” He would have beaten you at that video game, but he didn’t expect you to choose that map, the one he never plays. He would have gone home with that girl, but the mass media brainwashes young women so they don’t appreciate his qualities. In childhood and adolescence it’s to be expected. In early adulthood it’s a personality flaw. Past the early twenties- it’s pathological.

It’s not that we don’t fail due to circumstances beyond our control; this happens far more often than a lot of people would like to admit. But when evaluating those failures, it’s always best to start with oneself and work your way out from there. Furthermore, there’s no reason why a failure can’t be a combination of one’s actions plus external factors. And of course there are those times when you give it your best, but it’s just not your day. You admit it and you move on.

Unless you’re Russia, apparently.

For those of you who haven’t heard, Sergei Lazarev, who was a apparently a favorite to win Europe’s worst disaster since WWII, AKA Eurovision, was beaten by Crimean Tatar singer Jamala from Ukraine. So far the reaction in the Russian media has been akin to what you might expect if Russia somehow lost its seat on the UN Security Council.

 

Almost immediately there were conspiracy theories and ad hoc explanations as to how this tragedy unfolded. The “information war” against Russia was invoked. It was implied that the Europeans may have chosen Ukraine so as to suck up to the United States, because as we all know, European countries don’t have sovereignty and their people are incapable of having opinions of their own. All in all it was a weekend laugh riot on Twitter, as we broke out the popcorn and enjoyed watching the colorful explosions of buttrage.

eurovisiononrussiantv

Fascists! Nazis! Sodomites! Yankee boot-lickers! Information war! NATO! BLEEEEEARGGGGGH!!!!

Now in case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I don’t give a damn about Eurovision. Russia, for some reason, seriously does. They care about it in spite of the fact that they hate Europe. It seems to go something like this: “You Europeans are a bunch of limp-wristed Sodomites who let marauding Muslim immigrants take over your worthless, US-controlled puppet states…but you’d better support us in your super gay song contest, the one  where the winner gets to host said super gay song contest the following year!” In fact, they care so much that they seem to have spent so much time whining about their defeat in Eurovision that they totally forgot Moscow’s CSKA basketball team won the European league final on Sunday.

And this all brings us back to the topic of That Guy. Sunday’s sour grapes storm was classic That Guy behavior. Nor was it the first time. The FIFA investigations were alleged to be a conspiracy to take Russia’s World Cup away. During the Winter Olympics in 2010, a colleague of mine said students had told him that Evgeni Plushenko was denied the gold medal for figure skating thanks to “biased Canadian judges” who conspired to give the gold to…the United States. In 2014, the US cheated the Russian hockey team out of a victory because…Okay actually even I kind of have to agree with that one.

By now the reader should see the general pattern. Lose a song contest? It’s a conspiracy! Information war! The rules were changed to favor Ukraine, possibly at the personal request of Obama! In any case it doesn’t matter because Ukraine can’t afford to host the next Eurovision contest! HA HA! Honestly if I woke up this morning to find that Russia’s Investigative Committee had opened a case to determine whether or not the Eurovision voting was legitimate I would not have been surprised in the least. I would not be surprised at all if they opened an investigation into the lyrics of Jamala’s song, “1944” and determined that the lyrics contain “extremism.” This is “normal” in today’s Russia.

And the funny thing is that in a way, Russia’s media might be right. People might have a bias against Russia. Surveys have found that much of the world holds a negative opinion about Russia in spite of millions of dollars spent on “soft power” around the globe. Sometimes that bias might end up hurting someone who really has nothing to do with the actions of the regime. Sergei Lazarev, who seems like a decent enough guy and who apparently took the loss like an adult, could possibly be an example of that collateral damage. But if this is the case, maybe the average Russian citizen who buys in to this worldwide anti-Russian conspiracy might want to dig a little deeper and learn about why this bias exists.

Here’s one tip, for example. When ordinary Russians, politicians, and media figures call Europe and the Sodom and Gomorrah, when they falsely claim that Western countries don’t really have free speech, when they support and endorse far right-wing fringe parties, neo-Nazis, and conspiracy cranks in those Western countries- Westerners find out about it. Even the ones that barely follow Russia news (AKA the majority of Westerners), they sure as hell find out when Russia implies it can nuke their countries. I also imagine a lot of Europeans aren’t thrilled when figures such as Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov imply that their governments’ failure to go along with whatever Russia wants them to do indicates that they are nothing but puppets of the United States. And maybe they are a little put off by massive tantrums every time something doesn’t go the Kremlin’s way.

The parallels with That Guy are striking. And it’s hard to deal with because many times That Guy is a friend, and he’s got some decent qualities. So it is with Russia. What you need to do, if you really value that friendship, is to hit That Guy with a dose of ice cold reality.

“Look, That Guy, you lost because you don’t train enough. You need to work harder. I can help you.”

“That Guy, the reason girls don’t want to date you is because you come off sounding needy and self-entitled, and you don’t display what you’re willing to bring to the table in a relationship.”

“That Guy, relax. You did your best, but you lost this time. You don’t always have to have an explanation.”

Of course it’s a lot easier to sit down with That Guy and have a heart-to-heart than an entire country, but hopefully more Russians will reflect on Sunday’s eruption of rage and feel embarrassed. There’s nothing wrong with it- embarrassment means you have dignity. Go with it. Putin’s regime is reducing a once-proud country to the stage of childhood and people ought to be outraged at that.

Just a final note for the record. I was invited to a Eurovision viewing party held in a cinema and since beer was available, I naturally went along. One young man in the audience was wearing a Ukrainian flag over his shoulders. Later, when Jamala’s song was announced, there was loud applause. Some people were actually singing along with her.

On one hand, these young people demonstrated far more maturity than some of Russia’s top state media personalities, as well as the fact that the Kremlin’s hate machine cannot control everyone.

On the other hand, they like Eurovision, but that’s another matter entirely.