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Two Ukrainian adverts

How far we’ve come, eh? Ukraine, I mean. That’s what the poster wants us to think…but in what direction have we come?

The first video, made around 2003, is, obviously, terrible—it has the same camp aesthetic appeal as Aqua’s 1997 hit “Barbie Girl”. It’s pure Eurotrash, Eurovision (“Niiiiiccceee”). It’s Serbian turbofolk. It’s Arkan with his pet white tiger cub…it’s plastic fantastic, it’s Ukrainian girls in high heels prostituting themselves in Dubai. It’s the 90s—it’s the former Soviet bloc (as they used to write in the newspapers).

It’s also straight to the point—and realistic, despite its Ken-doll aesthetics. There you are, in the Ukrainian countryside, amid the proverbial wheat fields—you’re 19, there’s not much to do. Your uncle has one of those flatbed horse-and-trailer jobs with HGV tires that he lets you ride about on sometimes. Otherwise, your life is limited to wearing a red Adidas tracksuit and squatting on doorsteps with a fag and a half drunk can of Obolon. It’s the post-Soviet economy, innit?

Meanwhile, some greasy individual with a BMW that “fell off” a car transporter somewhere outside Munich drives round the village playing Coolio’s Gangsta Paradise at an obnoxious level, smoking cheap Turkish fags he got “duty free”, and getting blow jobs from all these tarts in high heels (before they go off to Dubai, of course). “My angel, write to me!” Mw. Mw.

It just doesn’t seem fair, does it? Just because his great uncle was under-secretary in the Balaklia Party secretariat, his father cornered the market in pig fertiliser when the economy was privatised. Now he gets all the pussy and has a cool car too!

But wait, young man, have you considered…joining the army?” “What, really, Lieutenant Ken Doll?” “Yes, did you know that women love a man in uniform?” “Now you mention it, I do remember something of the kind.” “Well, hop aboard our BMP and join the Ukrainian Army! You’ll soon find a BMP is a bigger pussy magnet than a BMW!” (rubs large gun barrel suggestively—men in the Ukrainian Army have large penises too, this is not a subtle advert).

So the advert is not subtle. It’s very realistic, actually. Join up—escape your shithole, make a stable salary in a collapsed economy, learn a skill, and get pussy (you don’t even have to fight the Russian Army—that comes later). I think (think) the advert is a joke, or meant to be light-hearted and ironic—unless I can’t read Slav semiotics, I think it’s meant to be a joke that the Ukrainian recruiter is GI Joe chiselled-jaw perfection and just too good to be true with post-Chenobyl skin that positively glows with health, unlike the village’s skanky two-bit mafioso (who is also a caricature).

In aesthetic terms, the director over-dosed on Dallas and Baywatch—he longs, like all Eastern Euros, to emulate rich America; but as with the light from distant stars, he’s 20 years behind America’s aspirational pop culture—the Berlin Wall has been down for over 10 years but the signal still hasn’t reached everywhere yet; and, perhaps, Slavs just don’t do subtle, anyway. I always get the impression they’re trying to mimic what the Americans do, just not very well.

2023—in 2023 life is grey. This isn’t Barbie Girl anymore, soldier. Men aren’t clean-shaven; no, they have big bushy beards, tattoos, and drink craft beer. “Courage. It’s more than a word—it’s a feeling. Courage. Dedication. Life. This is our struggle, this is our people. Slava Ukraine!” or “Courage. It’s more than a word—it’s a feeling. Courage. Dedication. Life. This is our struggle, this is our people. Puma Sports Socks. Puma strong!”.

I run these two slogans together for a purpose—the fact is that the second advert could as well be for Puma Sports Socks or for Nike or for the latest Ford. Although the poster goes all gooey about how “serious” and “manly” (those beards, tho) Ukrainian Army ads have become, the fact is that the second ad could be for anything—its visual idiom is just standard Western advertisement, very grey and washed-out (it’s very serious, you see). It could be for the Japanese Self-Defence Forces, it could be for the Finnish Army, it could be for the British Army—it’s totally generic, globalised (as we might have said, back in 2003).

It’s like those hipster cafes that are nominally “independent” but are the same in Brixton and Brooklyn and some trendy part of Tehran I can’t be bothered to Google. Just like those big bushy beards and a vaguely “pagan” aesthetic, it’s the same wherever you go—“twelve neat tricks to hack the ad industry!”. Checked shirts. Big beards. Bare-filament lightbulbs. $15 mini-fries-and-burger-served-on-slate-with-a-minuscule-coleslaw-side. Grey washed-out aesthetics (very serious).

The old ad is, by contrast, recognisably Slavic in its aesthetics and even in the voice tone used within (the second ad uses a generic high-status Western ad voiceover intonation)—it uses stock characters from the post-Soviet bloc (the village spiv with his BMW, the tarty girls off to Dubai shortly—already in their knee-high boots, unless that’s just what all Slavic women are like). It even demonstrates Ukrainian weaponry and Soviet “sailor-boy” striped uniforms (Odessa?), whereas the second ad shows American rocket systems and generic Western uniforms. The second ad is slick but it is not Ukrainian in the slightest—it’s global, it’s from the American empire.

It’s also less realistic and more sentimental and manipulative. The first advert says “Join the army for pussy (you’ll make some money too)”. The second has a very religious narration which is oddly out of place, because the Ukrainians are the ones who have shuttered churches in this conflict and presented the Pope with a defaced picture of Jesus and made moves to legalise gay marriage. Perhaps their propaganda bangs on about it because it isn’t so—propaganda tends to work like that.

The word I’d use to describe the second ad is “portentous”—it’s up its own ass, whereas the first ad is not as visually appealing but is much more realistic, honest, and straightforward. It’s camp as a hell (I think it’s meant to be, partly—yet it’s more real, it’s definitely Ukrainian; it feels foreign to me, the second ad doesn’t—it could be for a British brand, for the British Army, even down to the “stealthy, serious” moves by the soldiers).

We also have this peculiar narration about “they rape your sisters”. I’m not sure whether this is a Slavic thing, over recent years I’ve become less favourable to the Slavs—being exposed to them due to the Ukraine War—and I have to say they are a crude and violent lot. I’m not sure if this “they rape your sisters” thing is just like when Wagner sledgehammer someone to death—it almost sounds like something affectionate Slavs say to each other in a bar, “I fuck your sister.” “I fuck your mother—in the ass!”. Then again, maybe you just get stabbed if you say that.

For me, a bit like the whole advert, it’s a bit too “on the nose”—and not in the jokey way the first ad is. The first ad is to the point in a humorous way (army = women + money). I mean it’s not subtle—somehow to actually say “rape your sisters” doesn’t work as well as to, for example, just depict a woman smudged with soot from explosions, a burning house behind her, with her clothes torn. I mean…people aren’t stupid (or are they?). It’s always more effective to hint at “something terrible” (was it a gang rape, did they use a stick?) than just to say it outright. This is either a Slav thing or…

The other option is that it’s to do with the fact the Ukraine is on the progressive side. So it’s all “women, the ultimate victims of war—victims of mass Russian rape”. You find this theme in Tom Clancy, a feminised author who was very gung-ho for the US military—this peculiar prurient interest in rape and white-knighting a woman (“You Russian beast, unhand that maiden at once, or I and my Fellas taskforce will unleash a HIMARS strike on your position.”).

However, like all progressive ideas, spite lies behind this apparently courtly concern for rape victims. The same people who worry about “the rape of Ukrainian women” are liable to say “burn piggy burn” when they see a video of Russian soldiers being air-striked. It’s because they take the spiteful feminine perspective, they like the idea of someone being burnt to death—and they’re kinda fascinated by rape as “a horror” because they desire it (possibly, in a tranny way, for these people are all latent trannys, as a victim).

Further, progressives tend not to be able to do subtlety. It’s to do with general decadence in the West but you’ll find that progressives and decadent people swear more in a way that is contrived. They’ll say, “Fuck Donald Trump!” or “It’s such a clusterfuck”. It’s always less effective to swear outright or to say it outright, but progressives like to put it “all out there” (“fuckety, fuck”)—perhaps it’s because they watch too much Netflix where they see people swear in unrealistic ways and contexts and then just copy it.

Similarly, they think it’s more effective to say “rape”—which they consider really bad—rather than hint at it, they’ve lost the ability to be reticent about sex and think it’s grown up to say “fuck”. Hence they think it’s more effective to spell it out “they rape your sisters” rather than hint at “the shameful event”—perhaps it’s to do with an over-dependence on words and the way people are almost hypnotically spoon-fed ideas through media today.

The whole second advert basically feels fake to me. I don’t believe Ukrainians think they are fighting for “the Church” or “to save our sisters from Ivan’s cock”. I think they’re fighting to belong to the West, and the West is high-status (like Dallas) and wealthy and looks sophisticated. That’s why they’ve adopted Western aesthetics for their ad—and, apparently, the Ukraine has been a place Western firms out-sourced their ad production to for several years.

So it’s no wonder their current war propaganda just looks and sounds like an ad for a Western product—for Adidas, for Nike, for the British Army (Army. Be the best.). The second advert has the exact same musical effects and aesthetics that I’ve seen in Western military ads—ads for the British Army—since forever, sitting in my seat, popcorn in one hand and coke in another, in an AMC or Cineworld. You know, they use musical effects that almost make your whole chest shake to really raise your emotions (in Dolby)—this is vital, important stuff. It moves your heart (literally, through sound waves—my seat is shaking). Still, change the logos and you’ve signed up to defend Ukraine and not Britain.

Above all, the Ukrainians want to belong to the high-status West—so despite this sentimental nonsense about “the nation”, they’re ultimately fighting to be flooded by African migrants and to have their children indoctrinated to become trannys. Because that’s what is high-status in the West—and the Ukrainians have sold out the unique, if somewhat kitsch, Ukrainian quality found in the first advert.


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