Skip to Content

Weaponizing Absurdity

Raunchy Russian Cadets Set Off Wave of Political Solidarity

As Gessen points out, once you watch enough of the solidarity videos -- all of it a spin-off from a soft-porn rock video -- you realize these are ordinary Russian kids taunting or “mooning” the strong-man Russian state by mocking, and assuming, western cultural decadence. At that point, they become hilarious. Of course, in America this particular kind of subversive cultural satire could never work; in our culture, sex and especially violence are out in the open and, with marketing and movies, rubbed in our faces. It's thus beyond parody. But then you realize, as I did the other night watching Bible conservative Vice President Mike Pence's dull, stolid face as he delivered a speech to US troops at Bagram AFB in Afghanistan about the need to kill Muslims from ISIS, that his speech amounted to virtual satire. It was the same with Tina Fey who didn’t have to do anything but quote Sarah Palin to get laughs. Palin was satire just being herself in the public eye; Fey looked enough like Palin that all she had to do was play her straight. All it takes to make this so is an audience with a sense of offended decency and a resistant state of mind.

The fundamentalist Pence was informed by Christians in Egypt and Jordan that they didn't want him to visit. In Israel, Arabs speaking against the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem were physically removed from the Knesset at the beginning of his speech. When Pence got to Afghanistan and told the young troops how much he regretted not having served in uniform himself, all I could think of was Jonathon Winters doing Colonel Robert Winglow. “All right, men, as you charge into battle, be confident, I’ll be a thousand yards behind you holding you in the long lenses.” In my subversive mind, the Pence speech became a Monty Python skit where the camera slowly turns and we see the troops gathered before him mooning the vice president en-mass.

Vice President Mike Pence telling Bagram troops how he regrets not serving in uniformVice President Mike Pence telling Bagram troops how he regrets not serving in uniform

story | by Dr. Radut