Lights, Camera, War
The conflict in Ukraine is the weirdest war ever
Lights! Camera! Action!
It’s a war, darling, go to Hair & Makeup and they’ll make you look war-like.
Now, where’s that photographer, did she wander off again?
Yes, yes, the all-black outfit totally works.
Soy or oat milk latte? Soy darling.
OK, smile! Everyone say: ‘Send us billions!’”
It’s the weirdest war ever.
The might of the Russian army cannot seem to make headway in Ukraine. Meanwhile the Ukraine government continues to receive billions of dollars from the West.
And, while enemy tanks can’t get into Kyiv, Hollywood celebrities fly in and out at will.
This week actress Jessica Chastain flew to war-torn Ukraine to pose for photos with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.
I’m familiar with the expression “theatre of war”, but this is something else. This war certainly has the most cameos.
Was this trip included in the Oscars goodies bag? When can we expect Will Smith to make an appearance in Kyiv? At least he knows how to fight.
And while I get the idea of showing support, this is starting to get ridiculous. Ukraine is at war and every other day the leader of the country is meeting and doing photo shoots with celebrities, making appearances on award shows and lecturing university students around the world.
What kind of war allows a leader to spend most of his time doing photo ops with celebrities and posing for Vogue?
And why do actors - from Sean Penn and Benn Stiller to Angelina Jolie and now Jessica Chastain - love to be seen in a war zone?
Maybe Chastain had some great strategy advice. In fairness, she did catch Osama bin Laden.
I’m starting to feel like I’m the only person who hasn’t visited Zelensky. I’m free next Tuesday.
I’m not suggesting the war is fake. I’m just making the point that the more they trivialise the war with celebrity photo ops the more they, you know, trivialise the war. Hot tip: Hollywood celebrities, even well intentioned celebrities, tend to trivialise everything they touch.
The war in Ukraine is far from trivial. It is certainly gridlocked.
Russia is 28 times bigger than Ukraine, and over three times more populous, with an economy 15 times larger. Putin hasn’t been able to smash Ukraine resistance, but he can afford to grind it out.
As for Western sanctions, the oil boycott means little to him when 40% of the planet’s population in India and China are eager to secure near-limitless Russian energy.
So, the Ukrainian war increasingly will depend on never-ending Western aid. This will be an increasingly tough sell in the West where citizens are being hit by runaway inflation, a self-inflicted energy crisis and skyrocketing national debt.
But send another $10b to Ukraine.
The hypocrisies abound.
Western governments seem determined to fight for the principle of national borders to the last Ukrainian. But, at the same time, care little about their own borders.
Western leaders warn that the planet is about to go up in smoke because of carbon emissions and scold citizens for using aircon in summer. At the same time, they send tonnes of coal to Ukraine (as Australia did) along with carbon spewing war machinery.
Multiplying aid to Ukraine has become the cause célèbre of celebrities. But few have fully explained to the people who watch their movies and whose taxes are being sent overseas to fund the war, the costs and dangers of escalation.
The West ran away from Afghanistan and then jumped immediately into a proxy war with Russia. Meanwhile, Iran, North Korea and Beijing continue to muscle up.
Does anyone know where this goes?
There’s precious little discussion of first principles in Western media. But this is hardly surprising in a generation whose attention span is determined by TikTok and whose appetite for understanding is all but zero.
The photo opportunities, however, are limitless.