Forever Wars Media Criticism Military Russia-Ukraine

Captain Zelensky and the War Crimes that Never Happened

The indoctrinated masses cannot break free from seeing the wars their country started as a game where you merely root for the right team.

By Braised Pork Blog / Medium

The corporate media landscape has saturated our feeds with images of NATO allies as superheroes, science fiction and fantasy protagonists, and pop culture icons. NATO’s enemies are villainized as the primary antagonists of major fandoms. The indoctrinated masses therefore cannot break free from seeing the wars their country started as a game where you merely root for the right team. Distancing wars from geopolitical realities and likening them to cartoon characters and childrens’ stories invents a reality in which morality is undisputed and it’s always the good guys who have to win. In just the past two months, an explosion of such images has defined the liberal discourse and obfuscated the gruesome realities of the preventable, NATO-instigated conflict in Ukraine.

Some of the best examples involving our pop culture heroes

A cartoon saluting the efforts of Zelensky, an unnamed soldier, and a frontline health worker was widely shared by MCU and DC Comics fans.

Marvel and DC superheroes bow down to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, a soldier, and a medical worker

Depicting Zelensky as the noblest of all, while implying that the soldier and health worker are on equal levels of reverence, erases the reality that Zelensky and most soldiers are engaged in the destruction of human life rather than rescue. It also ignores the fact that frontline health workers in capitalist countries are in such a dire situation because their governments had diverted their funding to the police and military instead of following science-based COVID prevention throughout the pandemic.

Another artist reimagines Captain America as Capitain Ukraine

Never mind the blood-stained genocidal flag the original Captain America represents, nor his background of loyal service to the American Empire. Fans just want to admire some masterful artwork that repurposes an imperialist Cold War hero without bringing any pesky politics into it. Just let us have our fandom, ok?

Hey liberals, what does the black sun in the background represent?

While this image may have been made ironically, quite a few liberals have eagerly compared Zelensky to CIA-backed Wakandan monarchists and real-life imperialists like Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

To fans of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, it is indisputable that Zelensky must be Harry Potter and Putin must be Voldemort.

Opposing street art murals in Poland depicting Zelensky as Harry Potter and Russian president Vladimir Putin as Lord Voldemort

Even many fans who are already highly critical of Rowling’s transphobia, antisemitism, racism, and adamant support for neoliberal systems like the police, have fallen victim to the liberal curse of the Boy Who Lived.

Not to be outdone, Star Wars fans depict the Ukrainian armed forces as the Rebel Alliance and Russia as the Empire.

A lonely X-wing fighter draped in Ukraine colors faces an insurmountable fleet of Imperial Star Destroyers decked in Russia’s tricolor flag
Graffiti in the Czech Republic depicts Zelensky as a brave fighter in the Rebel Alliance

It does make sense on a certain level — Russia is a big country. Ukraine is a small country. That obviously makes Russia the Galactic Empire and Ukraine the Rebel Alliance. Simple, right? If only we knew that the US military has nearly 13 times the funding of the Russian military, that the US has more than 800 military bases in over 70 countries, or that the US spends more on its military than the next 11 highest military spenders combined…the red, white, and blue on those formiddable Star Destroyers might start to mean something different.

Fans who prefer Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien will find plenty to their taste as well. Tolkienites have likened Ukrainian forces to the hobbits of the Shire and the Russians to the orcs of Mordor.

A map of contemporary eastern Europe, reimagined as Tolkien’s fantasy universe in Lord of the Rings

The orcs of Mordor: an ugly, deformed, inherently evil race who eat raw flesh, enslave others and themselves, lack any form of moral agency, and mindlessly serve the machinations of Sauron to get the Ring that controls them all. Sounds just like the Russians!

The stars in America’s longest-running sitcom have also picked up the new hobby of Ukraine activism.

The Simpsons wave Ukraine flags, their expressions somber.

The majority of American adults grew up with these characters on TV, the big screen, and in their toy chests. How compelling must it feel to follow their example in 2022, just as they did in 1989? Beloved role models like the Simpsons, adorable hobbits, DC and Marvel superheroes, Star Wars protagonists, and students at Hogwarts have made a deep impression on millions of childhoods, shaping their identities and the cultural hegemony of the USA. Fictional heroes are such effective political messengers because fans unconditionally love and trust these characters as childhood friends.

From silent films glorifying the Ku Klux Klan to mega-budget thrillers of crime-busting vigilantes in bat cosplay, our fascist heroes are as American as apple pie.

The capitalists have fused commodity fetishism with pro-war propaganda, achieving two goals in one: they sell us a product that the fans love, while encouraging popular support of yet another devastating war that lines the pockets of the military industrial complex.

Right on cue. People in a popular subreddit show us what they expect from the film industry. They demand movies that combine their pop culture consumerism with their desire to escalate a devastating conflict halfway around the world

The real impact of these pop culture heroes and fandoms has been there all along. Repackaging fascist ideology into colorful, relatable, and consumable media is nothing new. While news media spreads propaganda about other countries disguised as nonfiction, the film industry arguably does it better, conditioning viewers to attach complex geopolitical issues to fictional characters who can easily be reduced to a battle of good versus evil. Pentagon-funded action movies depict fantastical and monstrous enemies to normalize violence towards them. With giant robots or giant aliens, viewers are never made to question their heroes’ brutality toward an unambiguously evil, inhuman enemy they can hate and kill without moral conflict. Linking US allies with a familiar face means the public will not suspect that once again, they are being manipulated to support a war.

The reduction of imperialist conflicts to pop culture worship extends to real-life stars as well. Pro-war propagandists didn’t miss a beat when two obscenely wealthy celebrities appeared to have a conflict on the stage of the Oscars.

Will Smith slaps Putin in a work of graffiti that both reimagines the Oscars slap and makes a mockery of Cyrillic

Do the people who unquestioningly consume these images know that NATO has gone through five rounds of expansion since promising Putin that it would not expand anymore? Are they aware of the 8 years of bombardment suffered by the Donbas region at the hands of the US-backed Ukrainian forces, amounting in over 14,000 deaths so far? Pro-war propaganda tastes great when attached to our favorite celebrities and memes. The truth? A much harder pill to swallow.

Not even influencers and independent creators are immune. The White House briefed 30 top Tik Tok stars on producing a pro-US message, disguising it as a push to “combat misinformation” about the war. The propagandists in our government leverage the massive followings of these influencers to reach younger and more diverse audiences than the official messaging of the White House Press Secretary.

Depicting geopolitical allies as our favorite pop culture icons shuts down our ability to think critically about imperialism, the military industrial complex, and the global consequences of US-dominated capitalism. While western mainsteam media is fawning over Zelensky and comparing him to fantasy and sci-fi heroes, independent footage of horrific war crimes from Zelensky’s own forces expose a brutal reality. Romani people brutalized by Azov, a massacre in Bucha, and civilians being gunned down as they attempt to flee Mariupol — these images surely don’t belong in the glossy depictions of Zelensky as a Harry Potter or a Marvel hero.

Far more devastating conflicts in Yemen, Palestine, Syria, and Somalia have also gone largely ignored in the press, their refugees turned away or abused by the same countries accepting millions of Ukrainian refugees. Internationally, the conflict has led to increased tensions between former allies of the US, the imposition of sanctions on multiple countries set to cause worldwide shortages, and a general shift of peripheral nations toward closer relations with Russia and China. Indeed, the pro-Ukraine fervor that saturates the imperial core is not shared among countries in the Global South.

The United States is almost solely responsible for the arming and funding of Ukraine’s forces.

Not only does likening complex geopolitical conflicts and pro-US allies to fictional heroes generate approval for the current war, it also sets a precedent for future wars. Americans are no stranger to supporting their favorite action characters fighting alongside CIA-funded allies in distant corners of the world.

This is nothing new: Rambo end titles have been updated to erase what is now an inconvenient historical fact. Public opinion has shifted and the CIA-funded Mujahideen are now considered enemies of the US.

If Zelensky is defeated and the war crimes he committed become accepted as historical fact, will those images be redacted and revised the same way as Rambo’s end titles? Will the survivors of those atrocities hidden by the mainstream press finally get recognition and reparations?

What will we see next? Will the Mandalorian, the X-men, or Will Smith take up arms against the next enemy of the USA? If our fandom mentality tells us anything, they surely will. But if we start recognizing and resisting the attempts of the pop culture industry to indoctrinate us with a pro-war message, perhaps we won’t be so easily fooled next time.

Braised Pork Blog

Braised Pork Blog is a Medium blog written by an Asian American Marxist Lenninst who shares their opinions and analyses on Medium.

23 comments

  1. I guess I don’t really understand this post. Maybe it lost me when it said that RBG was an imperialist.

    In truth, Ginsburg, in my opinion, is the second most influential public woman in the history of the United States. Frances Perkins is the first.

    Actually, the size of the U.S. military is even more startling when you consider that of the top 25 militaries in the world, 22 are our allies.

    1. Um, of course she was an imperialist. You don’t get to be a supreme court justice [sic] if you’re not.

    2. top? the only capable military in NATO is Turkey—US loses all wars—in international completion, ranks #35…this is top for you?

    3. For brevity’s sake, articles often use hyperlinks to give the reader more info, without distracting from their more direct case spelled out in the article.

      In this case the author linked to a piece highlighting some of RBG’s illiberal opinions. Most germane IMO is her citation of the “doctrine of discovery,” which essentially stated that European powers (and subsequent states formed by their decedents) had the right to lands taken by force from the indigenous peoples already there. That’s a pretty clear endorsement of imperialism/colonialism.

      1. I read the link you refer to. It hardly proves RBG was an imperialist.

        Going through any judge’s opinions and then ascribing political motives to anything and everything that is in them is a precarious exercise.

        For example, I read Alito’s opinion in Dobbs. It is well researched, well written and well reasoned. No doubt that Alito has a political view of things, as all judges do, that is a product of their entire life’s experience.

        I don’t agree with Alito’s decision and will wait for Judge Kagan to tell me why I am correct.

        Finally, if you read the part of Ginsburg’s opinion where she mentions the “discovery doctrine,” she is not citing it with approval but only for context.

      2. John Marshall made the Doctrine of Discovery an important part of American Law. Like so many in DC, he had vested interests (there were counter claims to his land ownership by Native Americans and those they had sold their lands); such conflicts of interest, as with insider stock trading, seem a critical part of America’s legacy! Like our exceptionalism, and never ever being wrong or evil.

      3. Yes, armed with the Bible and the Divine Right of Kings, European “discoverers” had all the justification to subdue and rule any society that was different from theirs.

        Marshall also advanced the concept of “domestic dependent nations” to advance the rule of law over those native Societies that did not know they were discovered or dependent.

    4. You don’t understand it? Then read it again and again and again until your brainwashing
      Described in the article is remedied.

      1. Ray, you don’t even know me. How do you know I am brainwashed.

        That was unkind. Can you try to keep it to substantive comments with no personal aspersions.

        Thanks,

        Best regards, WDD

  2. as ukies suffer defeat and denazification has liberated 30% of ukie territory from the nazis, ukie troops now kill their own when they attempt to surrender…zelensky worse than poroshenko now commands less than 30% approval per ukie polls

    1. Zelensky won with >70% of the vote on a platform of “Peace with Russia”, which clearly most Ukrainians wanted. But that’s the problem with being a US Puppet state; the Ukrainians don’t get what they want, they get what Biden and the neocons, and their crazed neoNAZIs (why do we always ally with crazies?) want– Forever War!

  3. It’s enough to make one think the American public is incredibly stupid, isn’t it?
    Almost proves it.
    When put together with those reports we’re always getting saying most Americans don’t even know where Europe is and so on…
    But I’ve had another idea.
    You see all we hear and know about the USA is not from the people, it is from the MSM.
    They project the image of the USA that’s easiest for them to project, makes them the most money, serves best the purposes of their manipulators: the military industrial/pharmaceutical complex.
    And we’ve just seen a more than two year demonstration of just how totally detached from reality that MSM is.
    So the picture is no that grim.
    There’s an underlying reality that hopefully is very different.
    And that reality will manifest eventually via the internet if only we can hold at bay the forces of censorship, manipulation, control for long enough to build our own ‘free’ internet.
    So I think there’s a chance.
    That, and the fact that though the USA and her ‘allies’ (satrapies) think themselves the centre and essentially the whole of the world it is not and they are not.
    And that wider world is going to have a say in the nature of the future.
    And I suspect, expect, that it will be for the better.

    1. I fully agree with you, although we have yet to see any manifestation of real awareness amongst the American public. There is a chance that the public is not that caricature painted by the MSM, but the world is paying the price daily and running out of patience.

  4. Ukraine is NOT a small country. it is 600,000 square km, the biggest country in Europe if Russia is not counted!!

  5. Zelensky is a professional clown and professional liar and that’s why his sole role was to star in this production of psychological warfare against Russia including provocation of declaring war on Russia and LDPR in spring 2021, after numerous attempts were previously made to block and destroy newly built Crimea Bridge, by ordering AFU and security services to return Crimea and Donbas under administration of Kiev regime by whatever means available.

    This is all what he is doing, clowning, pretending, deceiving “enemy” and fellow citizens alike, and hence those cartoonish depictions of him as hero are not accidental outcrops of some over zealous neocon inspired pseudo artists but the core of warfare efforts designed by US.

    US is in control of AFU and affiliated forces of National guard from for eight years now. Ukrainian General Staff admitted that it is continuously in contact with NATO and US General staff and US is informed about all plans before they are realized and provides active support which means is directly engaged in military operations.

    What they won’t say is that in fact all orders including targeting are coming from NATO and their realization is being coerced by threats to cut weapons supplies. That means as Pope stated recently that provoked by the west “WWIII creeping through the back doors”. AMLO also suggested that fueling war in Ukraine is immoral increases deaths and suffering and could lead to global war even on American continent, Russia ir far from being isolated as 100+ countries in the world refused sanctions and trade with Russia in Rubles.

    It was NATO that prevented superior NATO trained manpower (600k+) and on parity in weapons confronted by mere 190k of Russians from actually defending Ukrainian borders and instead ordered AFU to retreat to big cities and take population as human shields and by that US war strategy is to commit war crimes by AFU .

    Such was strategic goal of NATO to win propaganda war against Russia by prolonging Ukraine inevitable agony, to bleed Russia military capabilities, capacities and National coffers and use this time to unleash real direction of attack namely Russia economic war of destruction and complete political isolation which would supposedly enable pro-western regime change in Moscow and hence submission of Russian oligarchy to western dictate. The west utterly failed on diplomatic and economic front as well as significantly retreated on propaganda front confronted by angry voters. Biden himself admitted that it was not Putin gasoline price hike but it was EXXON,SHELL, CHEVRON etc., greed for astronomical profits that is behind highest gas prices in US in history, and threaten more big taxes on profits.

    There is nothing knew about it as regime change in Russia was on NATO agenda since at least 2008 Russian intervention in South Ossetia to defend Russian peacekeepers from attack of NATO trained and equipped Georgian military that was squarely defeated in 72 hours.

    The hot war in Ukraine is a side show for propaganda to brainwashed western population to bear the pain of Russian and Chinese horrendous economic and political retaliation.

    For a first time Russian nuclear bombers flew through Taiwan strait with Chinese counter parts signaling Russian support for reunification of Taiwan with China as Crimea reunited with Russia.

    Also ill conceived attempts by US to re militarize Japan against China and Russia gave a boost to otherwise complex relationship between China, Russia and North Korea as all are allergic to re-emerging Japanese militarism as much as to re-emerging Nazism in Europe. Judt to note that Korea was under horrific Japanese. Occupation for forty years 1905-1945,

    Just few days ago extraordinary thing happened when Russia and China for the first time since Korean War vetoed additional sanctions against NK and hinted renewed cooperation (new bridges were opened between Russia and China and NK) meaning ignoring UN sanctions against NK. The re militarization of Japan is opposed by 90% of Koreans north and south.

    But that was not even necessary because westerns economic aggression was so ill conceived that it hit back the west in vengeance.

    Now we all feel it via super and perhaps soon either hyper inflation or deep economic depression and pauperization of societies in the west amid already developing next huge global financial crisis as central banks desperate scrambling already shows.

  6. It becomes more evident as you age and fall behind in popular culture figures. After a lifetime of thinking Clint Eastwood was a great actor playing good roles, I recognized him for what he was. A normalizer of violence, and a firearms salesman. That’s all he ever was, and John Wayne before him.
    I hope the truth can squeek it’s way into the light about the US ‘s role in all these manipulations. Or I hope I die peacefully in my sleep.

  7. Recently I attended a simulcast of Lucia de Lamenoor Opera by the Metropolitan Opera. A huge group
    sang first in honor of Ukraine with patriotic music. Later in the interviews during the filmed opera, the singer who played the evil role of the brother of Lucia told us that with his many fake tatoos and acted out obvious drug addiction added to his role, he felt that he represented Putin. This gave a whole ridiculous slant to the opera which was shown in more modern times rendition than the original. I am disappointed in the Metropolitan Opera in showing such political biases.

    1. What you witnessed in this operatic production at Metropolitan is pure unadulterated cultural fascism.

      Hitler and Goebbels understood utmost importance of music as propaganda tool that stirs emotions suppresses reason, a mental state of ecstasy that can be easily funneled by into tool of emotional control over the nation.

      The performance you attended was designed for shameful warmongering propaganda so already lost Ukrainian war, that cost US $60 billions returns to headlines so people feel better about $8 a gallon gas price not a fraction of which goes to Kiev regime.

      Wagner was hijacked by Nazis first as Hitler personal favorite. Nazis were so inamorated with music that the best German orchestra director was tolerated even when he openly condemned Nazism.

      What of course Nazi did and now Western Fascists do is to separate right music from wrong music along ethnic lines and political opinions. Exactly what is going on now when Russian Music, Art and Artists are persecuted while Great Russian music is banned like Mussorgsky was.

      Cultural fascism triumphs among corporatized classical performance music community in US that prostitutes itself for money.

    1. First and foremost educate the american public by yourself being open to both sides of the arguement. When only one side is tolerated the fight is already lost. Its having those uncomfortable conversations with neighbors, family, friends and coworkers regardless of how awkward it it.

      If people would even consider all sides of an argument things could change for the better. This task literally belongs to you, there is going to be no help from government, no help from the, media, no help from corporate figures trally there will be no mainstream support whatsoever. This is ok though the truth will prevail if it’s repeated enough times.

      We need to use some of the propagandists tactics and by far they love repeating things over and over and in unison, we need to do the same.

      The truth is war is rotten, despicable and only people suffer while corporate giants profit as do political figures. There is no good guy/bad guy, it’s all horrible and If at all all sides participating in war are the “bad guys”.

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