Weird Al-liance

You may have heard:  Ukrainians are revolting.  No, no — Lunghu’s not referring to their cuisine or the diminished standards of cleanliness often imposed by a long, cold winter.  Here we’re talking about the current social upheaval (public protest, its attendant repression, etc.) that has resulted from Comrade Bear and Comrade Wolf’s proxy war to control the breadbasket of Europe.  But if you’re seeking a conventional analytical discourse about generational conflict, divergent social aspirations, democracy and so forth … what are you doing here?  Lunghu will almost always cede the strategically-insignificant low ground to the Beltway blitherati and their mainstream media mouthpieces: go read the Washington Post and New York Times if you must.


Instead let’s briefly explore an obscure tangent, one of the little-noticed (perhaps deliberately ignored?) casualties of the Ukraine conflict.  Femen.  Harassed into exile, largely isolated from other political movements in the Ukraine, herded to the margins of social discourse in Europe, almost completely ignored in the world beyond.  Not so long ago, Femen’s protest actions would at least receive (modest) media coverage [irony intended] in Europe, if only because bare breasts beyond Page Three can sometimes help sell newspapers too.  But Femen’s relationship with the Fourth Estate began to head downhill after early 2013 cameo appearances in Davos, Notre Dame, and Tunis.  It’s one thing to focus political ire on the usual villainous suspects (Putin, Yanukovych, et al.) and quite another to publically challenge the patriarchs of capital, church and petro-islam.


Editors and publishers in many media outlets began to characterize Femen demonstrations as ‘stunts’ or stopped reporting them altogether.  Perhaps it was merely that the novelty had worn off, or perhaps it was just the inexorable process of Propaganda Model journalism at work: Femen’s message probably isn’t something that broadsheet and tabloid advertisers want delivered to their target audiences.

Unfortunately, Femen hasn’t been agile enough to adapt.  Over-reliance on mass media dissemination of their message has become an organizational weakness and a strategic vulnerability.  In response, they’ve tried to double-down (or is it “up the ante”?) – card-playing tactics that sometimes reveal a gambler is substituting escalation and blind hope for careful analysis of the underlying mathematics.   In the past several months, Femen actions have become increasingly strident, scattershot (aimed at an ever-wider variety of targets), and outrageous —all in an attempt to regain media attention.  Wake up – it ain’t happenin’.  How far beyond topless can you go, anyway?  Zombie topless? Maybe once. Then what?  A music video with Weird Al Yankovic?

Here’s the latest, briefly covered only by the French press:  rather than burning in effigy, pissing on Viktor Yanukovych in the streets of Paris.  The law of diminishing returns is definitely in full effect.

Five women from the Femen feminist movement gathered in front of the Ukrainian embassy in Paris on Sunday, bared their breasts and urinated on photos of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to condemn a crackdown on protesters angry about his rejection of a key EU deal.  The EU agreement would have opened borders to trade with Europe and set the stage for an easing of travel restrictions but Yanukovych reneged at the last moment, saying his country could not afford to sacrifice relations with Russia.


This counts as a media splash? Only in the smallest possible sense of the term.  In Lunghu’s none-too-humble opinion, things at Femen have gotta change. It’s time for a new strategic plan, a new communications campaign, an improved mode of discourse.  And don’t count on Facebook and Twitter to get the job done, either.  This is an organization in crisis that urgently needs an internal coup d’etat, a revolt by the palace guard, an ideological purge … or perhaps a far more boring democratic/egalitarian reorganization.  Lunghu’s got some ideas.  Call him before you’re desperate.  He’d love to meet you in Paris.



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