The Strange Roots of the Homophobic Trump-Putin Kissing Meme – 憎恨特朗普普京亲吻模因的奇怪根源

Opinion - 08 Aug 2018

The Strange Roots of the Homophobic Trump-Putin Kissing Meme

There are perils in deploying bigotry to score political points, but meanings also shift from West to East

By Aliide Naylor

In July, Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic Jerry Saltz posted two images on Twitter, neither of which were explicitly profane, but both of which carried clear sexual undertones. In one, an advert for Fox News, host Sean Hannity kneels facing US president Donald Trump’s crotch (identifiable through his infamous red tie). In another, Hannity stands behind Trump, staring down with a tense grimace. ‘Hey! What’s @SeanHannity doing to King Turd,’ Saltz tweeted. Saltz later deleted the tweet and apologized ‘for sharing an image that many found offensive and homophobic.’

The previous month, The New York Times published a satirical animation of pastel sketches, set to twee music and snippets of Trump speeches, titled ‘Trump and Putin: A Love Story’. In the episode, Trump’s ‘not-so-secret admiration for Vladimir Putin plays out in a teenager’s bedroom, where the fantasies of this forbidden romance come to life.’ Their tongues twist together as they ride on the back of unicorn; Putin is stereotypically shirtless. Unlike Saltz’s (admittedly more reprehensible) tweet, The New York Times video is still easy to find.

The depiction of Trump and associates engaging in homosexual relationships has understandably roused the ire of several LGBTQ+ commentators, with the frequent outcry that ‘being gay isn't a punchline’. Recently, transgender writer Lee Hurley took to The Guardian to protest exactly this issue, with visual reference to a mural by Lithuanian graphic artists Mindaugas Bonanu and Dominykas Čečkauskas (which went viral in 2016), which features Trump and Putin locked in a kiss. ‘Trump and Putin, like so many others, may fear being gay but every time you joke that they are, you reinforce the validity of that fear, not only to them, but to the rest of society,’ Hurley wrote.

My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love

The Strange Roots of the Homophobic Trump-Putin Kissing Meme - 憎恨特朗普普京亲吻模因的奇怪根源

Dmitri Vrubel, My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love, 1990. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons; photograph: Joachim Thurn

A more complicated context emerges when one recalls that Bonanu’s artwork in Lithuania is based on the famous 1990 mural by Russian artist Dmitri Vrubel on the Berlin wall, titled My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love. Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Hönecker kiss one another on the mouth – the original photo of the pair kissing in exactly the same fashion was snapped by Régis Bossu in 1979.

That kiss was an expression of socialist brotherhood, not homosexuality. But when I spoke to Bonanu in Vilnius last year, I asked him specifically about how his image might be read. Bonanu told me that people from the LGBTQ+ community in Lithuania had even asked to use his picture for their own campaigns. There was no intentional homosexual undertone, but he was very happy with people adopting the idea. ‘If people want to see some LGBT theme […] that’s okay,’ he told me. ‘But I think there’s nothing gay about them. They are kissing, right, like a Soviet Union thing; I think it’s more about the past. But a lot of people especially in the US don’t know the history.’

‘Local LGBTIQ+ people have never interpreted the mural as ‘homophobic’,’ activist and former policy coordinator with the Lithuanian Gay League Tomaš Ilja told me. ‘For us the mural had a message that the city is changing to become more open, that two guys can kiss each other in public, even if they are Putin and Trump.’ In fact, Ilja said, he felt the mural was widely perceived as brave and groundbreaking. With a national history of Soviet domination (the country was occupied in the aftermath of World War Two by the USSR, until 1990) it had another symbolic undertone: ‘the fact that Brezhnev’s kiss was on the Berlin Wall, makes this association and implication of ‘cool’ and ‘free’ even more contextual,’ he said.


The Strange Roots of the Homophobic Trump-Putin Kissing Meme - 憎恨特朗普普京亲吻模因的奇怪根源

Still from The New York Times’s ‘Trump and Putin: A Love Story’, 2018. Courtesy: The New York Times

Queering a straight man – whether Trump or Putin – as an insult, remains a shallow, offensive act. But the context and intention can shift in surprising ways. In the now-‘West’-facing Lithuania, the very act of displaying such an image in public might be interpreted as a sign of acceptance. Even further east, the conflict between self-sacrifice and media visibility intensifies. Just this weekend, in Russia’s ‘northern capital’ St. Petersburg, 25 LGBTQ+ activists were detained. Among those arrested was Alexey Sergeev, an activist with Russia’s ‘Alliance of Straights and LGBT for Equality’. Video footage I viewed from the event showed Sergeev being seized by police and hauled into a van, rainbow flags visible through the grim windows.

‘For us it is a big problem to get into the media to raise LGBT themes after the law on the ‘prohibition of propaganda’,’ Sergeev told me in an email. It’s important not to underestimate the impact of visibility in Russia, whatever the tone. ‘When Russia-24 showed a bad story about our trip to the ‘city without gays’, Svetogorsk, despite the distortion of facts and unsightly rhetoric, our group grew by 500 people,’ Sergeev said. ‘A huge TV audience of Russian news, among whom there are LGBT people, learned that there is such an alliance.’


The Strange Roots of the Homophobic Trump-Putin Kissing Meme - 憎恨特朗普普京亲吻模因的奇怪根源

LGBT demonstration outside the Russian Embassy in Rome, 2017. Courtesy: Getty, Corbis; photograph: Stefano Montesi

Sergeev said that he had mixed feelings on the dissemination of online imagery that reimagined Russian authorities as gay icons. He pointed out the humour in styling Putin with long eyelashes and lipstick as a ‘tsarina’, or Russian politician Vitaly Milonov (who once infamously suggested gay athletes could be arrested at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and was responsible for the ‘propaganda law’) as a trans diva. Both are niche Russian LGBTQ+ community memes. Sergeev understands that Putin ‘uses homophobia for negative mobilization of the electorate,’ but ‘it seems to me that excessive political correctness leads to complete sterility. […] Humour, laughter – prolongs life. It makes it not so complicated and terrible.’

‘On the other hand, laughter should not lull us. We should not condone, take as a sweet joke, what really makes the life of the LGBT community worse,’ Sergeev added. In the West, such images might rightly be read as deploying bigotry in the name of cheap political point-scoring. Elsewhere, a kiss – as recognizable as Trump’s tie – might be the immediate visual gesture that some LGBTQ+ community members without access to a real community just appreciate.

Main image: latest version of Mindaugas Bonanu and Dominykas Čečkauskas, Make Everything Great Again, 2016. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Aliide Naylor

Aliide Naylor is a British journalist and editor, and the author of forthcoming book The Shadow in the East: Vladimir Putin and the New Baltic Front (I.B. Tauris). Her work has been published with the New Statesman, The Guardian, and Politico Europe among others. She tweets: @Aliide_N

Donald Trump
Vladimir Putin
Street art
Gender Politics

意见- 08八月2018恐怖怪人普京亲吻模因奇怪的根源在部署偏见得分政治点,但意义也从欧美地区转移到东Aliide Naylor七月,普利策奖得主艺术评论家Jerry Saltz在Twitter上发布了两张图片,都没有明显的亵渎神灵,但两者都带有明显的性暗示。其中一则是福克斯新闻的广告,主持人Sean Hannity跪着面对美国总统唐纳德·特朗普的胯部(通过他那臭名昭著的红色领带可以辨认)。另一方面,汉尼提站在特朗普身后,用紧张的鬼脸盯着她。嘿!“Sahanhanness对King Turd做了什么,”Salz推特说。萨尔茨后来删除了推特,并为“分享一个许多人感到厌恶和憎恶的形象”表示歉意。上个月,《纽约时报》发表了一个讽刺性的粉笔动画,设置为推特音乐和特朗普演讲片段,标题为“特朗普和普京:一个爱情故事”。在这一集中,特朗普对弗拉基米尔·普京的“不那么秘密的崇拜”在一个十几岁的卧室里上演,在这一幕里,这部被禁的浪漫的幻想出现了。“他们的舌头在骑独角兽的背上扭动着,普京是毫无表情的呆板。与Saltz的(公认的更可指责的)推特不同,纽约时报的视频仍然很容易找到。描写特朗普和同事们的同性恋关系,可以理解地激起了几位LGBTQ+评论员的愤怒,同时也经常发出抗议:“同性恋不是一种恶作剧”。最近,变性作家Lee Hurley来到监护人,抗议这一问题,通过视觉参考壁画立陶宛的图形艺术家Mindaugas Bonanu和多米尼克卡斯卡斯卡斯(这是病毒在2016),其特点是特朗普和普京锁定在一个吻。特朗普和普京,像许多其他人一样,可能害怕同性恋,但每次你开玩笑说,你就增强了这种恐惧的有效性,不仅对他们,而且对社会的其他人来说,“赫尔利写道。我的上帝,帮助我度过这个致命的爱WPA6021602IMG Dmitri Vrubel,我的上帝,帮助我度过这致命的爱,1990。礼貌:维基百科公馆;照片:当Joachim Thurn回忆起Bonanu在立陶宛的作品是基于俄罗斯艺术家Dmitri Vrubel在柏林墙上著名的1990壁画“我的上帝”,帮助我在这致命的爱中生存时,一个更为复杂的背景出现了。Leonid Brezhnev和埃里希·H·奈克在嘴里亲吻对方——这对情侣以同样的方式亲吻的原始照片在1979被ReGIS BasSU抢走。那个吻是社会主义兄弟会的表现,而不是同性恋。但去年我在维尔纽斯采访Bonanu时,我特别问了他的形象。Bonanu告诉我,来自立陶宛LGBTQ+社区的人们甚至要求使用他的照片进行他们自己的活动。没有故意的同性恋低音,但他很高兴人们采纳这个想法。“如果人们想看一些LGBT主题……那没关系,”他告诉我。但我认为他们没有什么同性恋。他们在亲吻,对,就像苏联的事情一样,我认为更多的是过去。但是很多人,尤其是在美国,不知道历史。“当地的LGBTIQ+人从来没有把壁画理解为‘同性恋恐惧症’,”维权人士和前政策协调员与立陶宛同性恋联盟托玛伊尔贾告诉我。“对我们来说,壁画有一个信息,那就是城市正在变得更加开放,两个人可以在公共场合亲吻,即使他们是普京和特朗普。”事实上,Ilja说,他觉得壁画被广泛认为是勇敢的和开创性的。有一个苏联统治的国家历史(这个国家在二战后被USSR占领,直到1990),它还有另一个象征性的基调:“勃列日涅夫的吻在柏林墙上的事实,使这种联系和‘酷’和‘自由’的含义甚至莫名。他说。纽约时报The Strange Roots of the Homophobic Trump-Putin Kissing Meme - 憎恨特朗普普京亲吻模因的奇怪根源仍然来自纽约时报的“特朗普和普京:一个爱情故事”,2018。礼貌:纽约时报把一个正直的人——不管是特朗普还是普京——当作一种侮辱,仍然是一种肤浅、冒犯的行为。但是,语境和意图可以以惊人的方式发生变化。在现在的“面向西方”的立陶宛,在公众面前展示这种形象的行为可能被解释为接受的标志。甚至在东方,自我牺牲和媒体可见性之间的冲突加剧。就在这个周末,在俄罗斯北部的圣彼得堡,25名LGBTQ+激进分子被拘留。被捕者中有Alexey Sergeev,他是俄罗斯“正义联盟”和“同性恋平等联盟”的活动家。我从事件中看到的录像显示塞尔盖夫被警察抓住并拖入一辆面包车上,透过粗糙的窗户可以看到彩虹旗。塞尔盖夫在一封电子邮件中告诉我说,对我们来说,在“禁止宣传”的法律之后,进入媒体来提高LGBT主题是一个很大的问题。无论如何,不要低估俄罗斯能见度的影响是很重要的。Sergeev说:“当俄罗斯人24岁的时候,我们对“没有同性恋者的城市”的斯韦托戈尔斯克进行了一个糟糕的报道,尽管事实扭曲和不雅的言辞,我们的组织增长了500人。“俄罗斯新闻的巨大电视观众,其中有LGBT人,了解到有这样一个联盟。”Land LtgDeMrOrMulMursiaAdvsiBrdGigByTyStfFauntNeSi WPAP6023 602IMG LGBT演示在俄罗斯驻罗马大使馆外,2017。礼貌:Getty,CabbIs;照片:Stefano Montesi Sergeev说,他对网络形象的传播有着复杂的感觉,网络形象把俄罗斯当局想象成同性恋偶像。他指出,用长睫毛和口红来称呼普京是一种“Trina”的幽默,或是俄罗斯政治家Vitaly Milonov(曾经臭名昭著地建议同性恋运动员在索契2014届冬奥会上被捕,并负责宣传法)。两者都是利基俄罗斯LGBTQ+社区模因。谢尔盖夫明白普京用同性恋恐惧来对选民进行消极的动员,但在我看来,过度的政治正确导致了完全的不育症。幽默,笑声-延长生命。它使它不那么复杂和可怕。“”另一方面,笑不应该使我们安静。谢尔盖夫补充说:“我们不应该宽恕,作为一个甜美的玩笑,真正让LGBT社区的生活更糟。”在欧美地区,这样的形象可能被认为是以廉价政治积分的名义部署偏执。在别处,一个吻(如特朗普的领带)可能是一些LGBTQ+社区成员无法访问真实社区的直接视觉姿态。主图像:Mindaugas Bonanu和Dimyykas e Kaskas的最新版本,使一切再次伟大,2016。礼貌:维基媒体公爵内勒别名内勒是英国记者和编辑,以及即将出版的《东方阴影》的作者:弗拉基米尔·普京和新波罗的海战线(I.B. Tauris)。她的作品发表在新政治家、卫报和欧洲政坛等。她在推特上说:“俄罗斯人唐纳德特朗普弗拉基米尔·普京街头艺术同性恋恐惧症性别政治LGBT


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