Thanks to the across-the-board nightmare the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics have been thus far, I realized there was a secondary irony in the rainbow-colored Olympic rings – one that didn’t exist until the games were held in a country that has recently restricted some of the most important aspects of the Russian LGBT people’s lives. In 2012, Russia passed legislation banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors. Last year, another law forbidding homosexuality in literature and the rainbow flag symbol were passed.
What’s next? Adios, Crayolas. Ciao, prisms. Do svidaniya, unicorn shit. Sayonara, Skittles. Putin doesn’t want anyone to taste your rainbow.
More recently, the country has enacted a law prohibiting the LGBT community from holding parades in the capital city of Moscow for the next 100 years. Hold up, President Putin. Stalin called; he wants his homophobic laws back…along with the title of “Manliest Man in Moscow.”
By criminalizing the dissemination of LBGT information to minors, Putin has officially stigmatized members of the LGBT community – not just in Russia, but across the world. Moreover, this law makes it nearly impossible for gays and transgender people to hold protests on behalf of restoring these basic, human rights – because children are everywhere. The shirtless, dickless, cowboy president has, in one swift move, set human rights in Russia back at least 60 years. Pull out your crinolines and penny loafers, comrades; it’s about to get Iron-ic Curtain, in here.
While I observed the Sochi facade crumble – along with its hotels – over the last few weeks, I also realized that its failure is merely a sign of a sturdier, steel shade that has been pulled across Russia’s windows to the world. Enacted in a country notorious for its propaganda, this legislation is nothing more than a manner in which to legitimize the beliefs and acts of every homophobic hate group within Russia’s boundaries.
Hmmmm. Why does this sound so familiar? A country systematically stigmatizing a particular minority, enacting laws meant to separate that minority from the majority, blaming that minority for the country’s economic downturn, and gradually eliminating that minority’s rights – to live – altogether. I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Oh, that’s it! Danka schoen.
Here we have the Russian President still in the dawn of his third term. Let’s face it – the dawn of his third and fourth, 12-year long term. When you’re a former KGB agent and sociopath, you don’t accept the legitimacy of silly things like laws that prevent you from being in charge. No, before you complete your first 8-year reign, you restructure the government so that Russian governors report to the Prime Minister, select and endorse your successor, step down, and immediately accept the title of, wait for it, Prime Minister – from your tag team member, the new President Dmitry Medvedev, who looks like what would happen if Colin Firth and James Bond made it. And enjoyed it.
Except you probably didn’t know that. Why? Because no one ever talks about former President Medvedev, who is, currently, Prime Minister Medvedev (seeing a pattern here?), unless they’re explaining Putin’s rise to power. Or how much taller he is than Medvedev. Or how Medvedev was a pawn and his presidency was a tiny, 4-year bone thrown to Russian liberals that accomplished nothing. Simply put, Dmitry Medvedev was to Russia what President John Tyler was to the United States.
Never heard of him either, have you? All you need to know is that Tyler’s opponents reportedly didn’t take him or his presidency seriously, and referred to him as “His Accidency” or “The Acting President.” He’s widely considered one of the United States’ worst Presidents. So don’t expect to see Firth onscreen, wearing one of Medvedev’s characteristic, fat Windsor knots, and stuttering his way through one of the invisible, former president’s speeches anytime soon.
But back to Putin’s rise to power. After ensuring that the presidential term length law is extended from four to six years, Medvedev conveniently declines to run again so that Putin is elected President of Mother Russia in 2012 for a third, non-consecutive term. Russia’s revolving political door circulates just one leader, a cycle seemingly limited only by Putin’s lifespan. Or is it? I’d bet my Stoli-packed linen closet* that Putin had himself cloned long ago, and, somewhere in a remote, Siberian laboratory, miniature Vlads are chasing one another around a playroom. With their shirts off.
So, while I appreciated and respected President Obama’s bold decision to not send any Cabinet members to Sochi and to, instead, appoint several openly gay athletes as U.S. Delegates to the Olympics, I think a brighter, louder message representing our antipathy for Russia’s homophobic stance would have been a change of costume – you know, rainbow-colored uniforms. We could ask Calvin Klein to design them. They could be partially-striped like a rainbow flag and –
What the f**k?
Wait, GERMANY beat us to it? The Germany? The Germany that nearly exterminated the Jews and, likely would have succeeded, had they not tried to beat the Soviet Union on its own turf. In winter. The Germany that allowed Hitler, possibly the most widely-despised man of the last century, to lead them into the heart of cruelty and evil, then abandon them – a scorched and scorned country – to pick up the pieces and apologize. To everyone.
You know, Germany. Junior. He’s that kid you picked on in school – the one who overcompensated for his father being a despised, homicidal dictator, by throwing keg parties, which everyone promptly vacated, as soon as the beer ran out and the house was trashed. Even though it wasn’t Junior’s fault that his dad murdered your grandparents, you’ve never really forgiven him. Sure, at reunions, you dismiss any ill will. “It’s all good,” you say, but, deep down, you’re not gonna have anything to do with Junior again unless free beer is involved. Craft beer. American craft beer.
Sure, President Obama gave Putin the finger with his LGBT-loaded U.S. Delegation. And, don’t get me wrong, I felt good about that. It was like a shot of testosterone surged through my estrogen-loaded body. I walked like I had balls. Buffalo balls. I was proud of my president. Proud to be an American. Shame those balls turned out to be hemorrhoids.
But then Junior comes along and, not only shoots the Russian President a huge, colorful BIRD at the internationally-aired, opening ceremonies of the most important event of his presidency, he then sticks that rainbow-wrapped middle finger up Putin’s ass – an act not yet illegal in Russia – and demonstrates that Germany has huden so big, they make Putin’s look like a mosquito’s eyeballs.
Holy comeback, Batman!
By the way, I feel it’s only appropriate that I share with you that I am one quarter German. Both my mother and grandmother were born there.
Until today, I’ve never been really proud of that fact.
Danke schoen, Germany.
Miss Snarky Pants
*As if I’d drink Stoli. Ketel One, please…
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Every once in awhile, Karma smiles down upon you and grants you the opportunity of a lifetime. In my case, her gift was two tickets for a taping of The Daily Show in Tampa, Florida during the Republican National Convention. Now, some of you may be snickering or rolling your eyes because
you’re complete and utter morons I think watching Jon Stewart doing his gig in person can only be surpassed by an event that involves me sipping Moët from the Holy Grail while David Sedaris reads aloud to me and Johnny Depp massages my feet. Sure, I realize his show shoots five days a week for most of the year up in Hell’s Kitchen, so you’re probably thinking that filming The Daily Show isn’t exactly rare like, say, a sober Amanda Bynes or a pale Donatella Versace.
But you would be wrong.
Shooting Comedy Central’s top–rated show in Tampa is extraordinarily unusual. And after Stewart and his team openly lambasted the city in which I reside with embarrassingly accurate observations about the heat and humidity (describing Tampa as the ideal environment for “a struggling strand of streptococcus”), the casual attire of the indigenous population (“the city where flip flops are considered evening wear”), and our fondness of clothing-optional gentlemen’s clubs (“Jon, I’m here in Tampa’s famous strip club district or as they call it here – Tampa.”), it’s unlikely that the program will ever be filmed in the Peninsula of Death again – unless a palmetto bug decides to run for President in 2016.