'Iron Sky' sci-fi comedy: First Hitler on dinosaur and now... brutal dancing Putin
The latest attempt to appropriate Putin’s image comes from the Finnish-Australian team behind Iron Sky. In the latest instalment of the yet to be realized campy sci-fi action trilogy, Finnish actor Karl Ketonen takes on the role of Vladimir Putin.
In a trailer published on YouTube, the Russian leader, armed with a map of Eurasia, scissors, and scotch tape, performs the most subtle act of political symbolism of the year.
He then proceeds to rip off his shirt, jump onto (and across) his desk, and furiously pound out Russian sailors’ dance in a pair of army camos clearly better suited for other shirtless photo ops, like fishing or horse riding. All along, a stylization of the Russian national anthem plays. Inspiring.
Of course, considering the fact that former Alaska Governor and VP-never-to-be Sarah Palin was depicted in a separate trailer with some kinda devil hand collaborating with a dinosaur riding Hitler, Putin got off fairly easy.
Whether kitsch, ironic, reverent, tacky, or luxurious (and tacky at the same time), the image of Vladimir Putin is not only a commodity, but a favorite subject matter for global pop culture. Like any other brand, he is recognizable anywhere.
It’s no coincidence that Forbes named Putin its most powerful person for the second year running. Forget about comparing Russian, Chinese and NATO specs, it’s not about that.
The editors at Forbes knew one simple fact: Putin sells copy. And it’s not just policy wonks waxing philosophical over talk of a new cold war. Every single movement evokes some kind of reaction. How many other people could make headlines just by putting a shawl around a woman’s shoulders?
For his birthday last month, an exhibition at Moscow's ‘Red October’ chocolate factory event space – the epicenter of hipster chic in the city – depicted Putin as a Grecian-style Hercules undertaking the divine hero’s twelve labors.
Except in this case, one of those labors ended up with a hydra head named labeled “America” lying by his foot. Once again, subtle
With the power of his personality elevating his birthday into an event, a clothing boutique opened in New York to mark the Russian leader’s 62nd birthday.
The Manhattan designer behind the 'Putin the peacemaker' series was not the first to cash in on the Putin merchandising craze.
Back in Moscow, Alexander Konasov churned out hundreds of designs featuring the president in his Patriot collection. A variety of images labeled “Putin is my hero” printed on T-shirts and sweatshirts managed to sell like hotcakes in downtown Moscow and online, despite setting buyers back $100.
Another brand, Anyavanya, has sold thousands of Putin prints on clothes. American actors Mickey Rourke and Steven Segal have both been caught donning Putin prints.
And whose image will you use when you want to roll out a $3,600 titanium iPhone 6 which is manly enough to withstand the pressure of your back pocket? Putin of course.
What if you are an ex-bouncer and A-list Hollywood to bring attention to the ALS ice bucket challenge? Who, tell me who are you going to call out? Okay, Okay, so Vin Diesel called out Angelina Jolie and Michelle Obama too. But much like a trademark, he didn’t have to say the Russian President or even Vladimir. A single, solitary “Putin!” sufficed.
And then there is this…yeah.
Putin himself isn’t the biggest fan of the commercialization of his image.
But it’s not just about money. To be a pop culture phenomenon is to lose yourself to the ether. Putin the idea is an entirely different thing than Putin the man; it is a medium of expression that changes from person to person.
A pop icon comes to define the society and era he lives in. He transcends his historical acts. How Putin goes down in history is still anyone’s guess. But don’t be surprised if your grandkids end up wearing a t-shirt with his face on it.