Thursday, April 21, 2011

On politicians in our popular culture and everyday life

The years when out of the political spectrum most Ukrainians could distinguish only Communists and non-communists and paid little attention to politics are definitely behind us. After all, sine 2004 protests known as “Orange Revolution” most of us have been following the twists and turns of the domestic political game very closely. And, to be honest, the Ukrainian political drama sometimes gets very intense and it frequently has us glued to the TV screen or a computer monitor for hours (e.g. when Shuster LIVE is on!).

By now, however, a few years of such intense attention have turned our politicians into some sort of folklore characters that have managed to enter every household. 

First of all, there’s an incredible amount of jokes, user-generated videos and photo collages circulated on- and offline – such as a recent YouTube video [ru] humoring President Yanukovych in a mix of official footage with parts of an old Soviet comedy. 

Then, there are TV sitcoms and parodies, such as those created by Ukrainian version of "Bolshaya raznitsa" [ru] TV show or "Kvartal-95" [ru]comedy studio. 

"Bolshaya Raznitsa", "Victor Almighty" episode. 
 Actors portray ex-President Victor Yushchenko and 
current President Victor Yanukovych

"Kvartal-95": an actress impersonates Yulia Tymoshenko 

An actress plays Yulia Tymoshenko in a
sitcom  "Nedotorkani" (available only online).

There's even popular fiction being written about our politicians - take, for instance, Yuriy Rohoza's To Kill Yulia (Tymoshenko) book series, where the first book promotes her, while the second one, according to the author, reflects his "disillusionment with Tymoshenko during her premiership" [ukr].

And while social polls continuously indicate [ru] that most Ukrainians don't only share Rohoza's sentiments toward Tymoshenko, but also feel this way about most other politicians, this does not hamper latter's widespread presence in our lives far beyond TV screen.

For example, owners of a recently opened pizza place in Lviv chose to use our political leaders as an interior decoration theme:

Puppet dolls in a Lviv Pizzeria resemble former and current
Prime Ministers Yulia Tymoshenko and  Mykola Azarov

A doll of Pinocchio's father in a Lviv Pizzeria bears a close
 resemblance to Ukraine's former President Leonid Kuchma

A doll of Pinocchio in a L'viv Pizzeria resembles former
Speaker of Parliament and Presidential candidate Arseniy

And, if you happen to forget who the main players on Ukraine’s political scene are – just visit a small photo studio around the corner from my parents’ house. A few years ago their price list contained photos of Yushchenko, Tymoshenko, and Yanukovych. Now, however, it looks like this:

A price list in a Lviv photo studio with pictures of
President Victor Yanukovych, Prime Minister
Mykola Azarov, Vice Prime Minister Serhiy Tihipko
and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

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