Starring Volodymyr Zelensky as a “President of Ukraine”
Is it possible to understand politics of any country without familiarity of the most popular political-fiction film series and satirical programs? Certainly, they show social moods, review current situation and suggest reactions to a visible statecraft, which so often is just a kind of artistic creation as well. But there is no other place, where film and satire HAVE BECOME politics – only Ukraine.
Everything Has Already Happened
Roberto Quaglia, very interesting Italian author and theorist of culture, described the phenomenon of a feedback between our perception of reality and the industry of artistic fiction (?) and entertainment: film, TV, novels, video games etc. We live in modern World, where almost nothing can surprise us, because almost everything we… have already seen in a cinema, experienced in games or read in books. Our own experience and knowledge are supplemented with a huge amount of potential, possible or just skilfully created events. And let us admit that it is so: what terrorists would blow up today - probably in a movie or a game has already exploded! It is announced that President of that or other country is a monster – but some directors have already scared us with that before! And so on - after all, even if we survived the alien landing after recording them on a smartphone, we could at most say that in the X. movie the effects were much better ...
Has this phenomenon any practical use? Conspiracy theorists, especially these researching connections between Hollywood and the American politics are ready to swear that yes, pointing specific examples of various invasions, elections etc. shaping the World opinion to submission to the terrorist fears, tolerance for increasingly widespread surveillance and other exemplifications of present reality. Of course, cultural and civilizational influence, shaping social and consumer trends, and interpersonal customs are also undisputed. OK, but can we use film and stage production straight as a political mechanism, on a tactic level, just for one specific election, not transitions planned for generations or at last decades? Volodymyr Zelensky’scase show – that it is the most feasible and effective.
„Ronald Reagan?!? The Actor?!? Then Who's Vice-President?!? Jerry Lewis?!?”
Sure, Hollywood has also tried it before. We all know that in the US it was soon determined that if the election is about looking good, talking well, giving someone else the right lyrics and telling jokes - it's best to hire an actor, who is well-trained and can even have some talent. Ronald Reagan’scase will be always present in every such a political task - because, indeed, it has been the most effective in history so far. So effective, that the voters participating in it have not realized yet, that they had taken part in something like a happening - which of course does not mean that it had not significant global political consequences. Just opposite.
Actor for a President! Or, better – a comedian, because it is even easier to identify itself with someone like him in today's sneering, sceptical (but naive ...) times. It is an idea almost perfect such persons can strike more easily and stronger (they are comedians, at the end – you cannot be angry at a clown, it is not allowed to hit a jester, that would be indecorous!), but there is also no good way to answer them. They always can hide for a costume of their characters, take everything in quotes and with every attempt to defend, polemic or counterattack it is the competitor that is becoming more and more funny, more and more pathetic, more and more clownish. Till now, comedians have been used primarily to canalize voices and votes of protest, interchangeably with so-called “self-made men”, mostly rich, who “with these hands” and of course “out of the System” have gotten their billions and now go to help their troubled compatriots – like Ross Perrot and Donald Trump.
However, the comedians employed for the policy were mostly tasked with specific goals: expression of emotions especially dissatisfied part of the electorate, disavowal of competitors (especially those currently ruling), to organize the votes lacking for ordinary, serious (?) parliamentary games etc. Such roles fell among others to Coluche (known eg. from “L'aile ou la cuisse” comedy), who in 1981 was so effective in snatching the corrupt French establishment that had to hastily resign from his candidacy, when it became quite possible for him to sit in the Élysée Palace. Under the banners of the TV comedy-series about Beer Scouts in 1991 to the Polish Parliament marched the representation of the Friends of Beer Party, in fact not composed of comedians, but rather a dreamy mixture of cunning business and celebrities on establishment services. And finally, the Five Stars Movement has proved to be not a joke at all, the party currently co-governing Italy, and originally being only the creation of Beppe Grillo - comedian and showman. Of course, it is not needed to add that at the right time also this initiative was taken over by completely not funny gentlemen in well-tailored suits ...
The idea of “President Zelensky” is therefore not original – and have not to be like that, because Ukrainians as well as the other viewers (pardon - voters ...) most like the films they had already seen and those melodies that everyone knows
Servant of Kolomoyskyi
To describe and understand just ended campaign in Ukraine – you need to remember all above: about the creative role of film and television; that nothing can surprise us, when we have already seen everything; how to engage an actor and what the comedians are used for and also how they are mixed with self-made-men myth and anti-Systemic sauce. Most of all – we have to review the TV-series "Servant of the Nation", because it is impossible to speak about Ukrainian politics without that.
“President Holoborodko” project (what is a name of Zelensky’s character in this series) seemed to evolve. The first season of the series, broadcast since November 2015 on the 1 + 1 Channel belonging to the oligarch Igor Kolomoyskyi - it was initially a classic story about a simple but honest history teacher, who, unnerved, throws away a stream of blouses aimed at the rulers, oligarchs, the political system and living conditions in Ukraine, which is spread spontaneously by Holoborodko’s students as a stream-video. That film earns him a millionth audience, then gives crowdfunded funds to register the presidential candidacy, and finally brings a crushing, 60-percent electoral victory. Zelensky consistently plays in the way of French comedians – a simpleton thrown in the World of temptation, consumption, embouchure and appearances, against which, however, he begins to resist effectively, thanks to the hard moral backbone, common sense and the support of friends (first - those students, and then classmates whom he makes his presidential team). For Vasyl Petrovitch Holoborodko very helpful is also… the history knowledge, presented as visiting him guest: Plutarch, Abraham Lincoln, Che Guevara,Ivan the Terrible and others, leading or misleading him on the winding paths of the presidency.
Early Holoborodko’s program was formulated on feeling, rather clichéd, “Bandu Het!” (“Ruling Gang Out!”), but because it cannot be done, at least throw 90 percent from 450,000 officials. Cut bribery - but at the beginning at least give back a bribe to pay the outstanding wages of social workers. And of course - do not listen to the oligarchs, in this part even as dangerous as anonymous ones. And most of all, President Hołoborodko is happy like a child when Ukraine is to be admitted to the European Union - and despair when it turns out to be Chancellor Merkel’s mistake. The most important is also the repayment of debts incurred in Western banks – even if the President's mother had to cancel her retirement, and his father banished him from home for raising excise tax on alcohol.
The President of Ukraine presented in this way seems to go from success to success (apart from repairing roads - which, as it turns out, cannot be repaired in this country at all and ever) - as far as to the break of the corruption pyramid, along with the arrest of Prime Minister Yuriy Ivanovich Tchuyko, who was standing on its tip (undoubtedly from the purely actor point of view the funniest role in the whole series by Stanislav Boklan). OK – but such Holoborodko could at most serve weekly entertainment for 1 + 1 viewers, and not about entertaining the Ukrainians is certainly its owner. And not about primitive urging them on what they do not want and what they listen about day by day, completely serious: that they must tighten their belts and enjoy so called cooperation with the West. No, before the second series of the "Servant of the Nation" – it was decided to listen the Ukrainians.
Art Is A Mirror of Reality - And Vice Versa
So, it has been listened. The second season of the series, started in June 2017, was a full-size Zelensky’s campaign, set on two basic goals. Not only to create a vision of the ideal president, which could be backed by the vast majority of Ukrainians, but also to practice all variants that someone could try to destroy this plan. In the second series, President Holoborodko is still nice - but he is not let to be too laughable anymore. Zelensky plays all the time on the note of "being normal", his emotions are to be human, perceived by the viewer as "complete naturalness". Let say – is it any difference with idea of the presidency of... Barack Obamaor Justin Trudeau?
Next, Holoborodko ceases to be an uncritical Euroenthusiast. On the contrary, he can now see the cunning of Western partners and when have to choose - he is absolutely in favour of the Ukrainian interest, even if it does not meet with the understanding of compatriots. Evidently the production of these (already strictly targeted) episodes was preceded by a serious research of what the Ukrainians really would like to hear. So, it turned out that despite, or perhaps because of intense pro-European propaganda - the Ukrainians understood that no one is waiting for them with presents, just opposite, their state is treated rather as a dish for greedy consumption? Therefore, a president would be needed, who would finally be able to defy the West - and thus Zelensky's creations.
Creation, of course belayed and in the series, amusingly supplemented with intercalation of the standardized average voter, easily following and believing in everything what hear on television – President’s father, typical Ukrainian, maybe not too intelligent and brilliant, but in the end just another honest and trustable guy, “like we all”. He can get angry with his Vaska - and even wipe him with rub - and here we come to the second powerful political task of the series. In its scenario is was practiced everything that could happen to Zelensky, what could come out against him and what could be said and even shown, both in the campaign and during the presidency: false accusations, photomontages, spy-lover, provocations, lies, treasons of friends and even... the use of a double... The viewer/voter is not to believe in any accusation and suspicion against Zelensky – because had already seen when it was done to Holoborodko! Brilliant in its simplicity...
We must also add that with all the bluntness, the accumulation of current jokes, readable in the second and third season connection of serial characters with real politicians and oligarchs (especially Viktor Medvedchuk and Rinat Akhmetov) – the "Hołoborodko's Project" completely glided over the fundamental issues of the real World. In the "Servant of the Nation" there was no problem of Donbas or Crimea. When broken up into oligarchic republics, Ukraine in the final unites under the presidency of Vasyl Petrovitch – it is also without any international context, and only on the basis of “ordinary, human community”. All divisions, for the East and the West, neo-Nazi Banderists and Communists - are presented as artificially maintained and inspired by the oligarchs by the hands of the sold politicians. Unity and Harmony – it is always particularly easy to win with these slogans.
And consistently, the greatest fear/scare exploited in the "Servant of the Nation" - becomes the aforementioned disintegration of Ukraine, also culpable by oligarchs and politicians who want to become oligarchs themselves, under the Nazi, Communist, or historical Hetmanate slogans. Even the Chinese and ... Jews are cutting their piece! Yes, Zelensky and Kolomoyskyi are not afraid to joke (?) even of their own - or maybe again, just accustomed the audience to the backup scenarios, or to what really can happen?
The creators of the series also spanked the national problem (it was criticized after the first series, that it was mainly in Russian), as a result, it gives the impression of being played by a Kievian slang - a bit, in Russian, a little Ukrainian. Accident? Not at all. Zelenski became another president of Ukraine, for whom the biggest challenge will be ... learn Ukrainian. And again – as an actor he is in better position in this circumstance… Although it is the new Language Act voted just after the elections (removing the Russian language but also minority languages: Polish, Hungarian and Romanian from Ukraine) which becomes the first serious problem for the new President. Just like in the series…
However, thanks to the mechanisms described - Zelensky became practically attack-proof in the campaign and for some time after the election.
In the meantime, all of this was almost imperceptible in the Western media. It was just before the second round, when the "Jewish Comedian Phenomenon" began to be dealt with. As if the commentators did not get instructions this time with clearly separated ... roles - who is a good guy and who is a bad one, and who deserved a happy ending. Almost to the end, none of the prominent analytics and specialists of Ukrainian issues undertook to analyse the effects of the elections in Ukraine, nor a meaningful description of Zelensky’s project and its creators
Because what is completely obvious- that this is not the achievement of one man. It is enough to mention that Zelensky is not even the main author of texts for his character, nor the TV-series scenario. This a man to be hired – more, this is a man HIRED to play a character of a President of Ukraine. In TV show and in real World.
To Be Continued…?
Also, the level of post-election analyses in the East as well as in the West is still not deep. It is quite funny, but even some Russians express their optimism about the result of Zelensky. Mostly the same, who look at hardly every event as an opportunity to normalize relations with the West, previously believing in a positive change that goes hand in hand with Donald Trump or just dreaming of sweet early 2000s. In a word - the blind and the suicide ones.
Well, maybe it is easier for the optimists to live in the World, but it cannot change the facts. It is enough to mention that both, the United Kingdom and Poland, that is two basic contractors of American orders in Europe have just clearly outlined to Zelensky the same scope of tasks: follow Western orders and escalate relations with Russia. In addition, it is known that Zelensky's campaign was neither anti-Bandera/anti-Nazi nor even suggested vision of Ukraine without Nazism. Too early for such an optimism. For now, we are dealing only with a shy suggestion that perhaps Bandera’s cult is possibly not the most important... Let's also remind that the originator of the project "President Zelensky", oligarch Igor Kolomoyskyi was also a creator and sponsor of the extremist, ethno-nationalist and terrorist Right Sector and financed Nazi “volunteer battalions” during the war against Donbas. He uses the banderist tool as easy, as Poroshenko did. Zelensky's statement, moreover, sounds rather "paying out salaries on time is more important than the name of the city in which they have not been paid out and whose monument stands in this city". Not "leave monuments alone and / or do not admire the crimes". So, let's not have any illusions. There will be lot of flowers and wreaths for Bandera and others Nazis in Ukraine…
For now, everything indicates only that Ukraine has entered the next phase of the crisis. In addition, its division into the nationalist West and the rest has been confirmed, what is bad forecast for the unity of this state in the near future. The victory of the next oligarchic team is conducive to further fragmentation and somalisation of Ukraine (again, following the “Servant of the Nation” scenario, but this time without happy end). And the choice of the new president does not eliminate this possibility at all. On the contrary, the clock for Ukraine is still ticking and this experiment is inexorably approaching the end.
Perhaps Zelensky is the last president of Ukraine.