Stand-up, music, comics: the war releases a lot of energy in the Ukrainian cultural scene. In some ways, the scene is better than ever.
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is hitting Ukraine’s culture and entertainment industry hard. Music concerts and theater performances continue to take place in the country. But because performances can be interrupted at any time by an air raid alarm, most Ukrainians think twice before going to the cinema, for example. Nevertheless, Ukrainian pop culture is experiencing an upswing of a special kind: the task of people after 15 months War Having to entertain and misery without sounding inappropriate is a huge challenge that even unleashes new creative energies.
One art form that stands out here is stand up comedy: The page views of Ukrainian comedians on YouTube have increased tenfold since the beginning of the war. And comedians who previously performed on stages twice a week are currently being booked for most of the week. One factor in its success is that stand-up performances mostly take place in basement bars that don’t have to watch out for air raid alarms. More importantly, people who were uncomfortable with dancing during the war, for example, weren’t uncomfortable with stand-up. Because they feel addressed by the topicality of comedy.
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A stand-up joke currently going viral on the Ukrainian internet is about the new wave of Russian airstrikes on Kiev. “If we one explosion hear, this has actually already taken place,” says a comedian. “It’s a sound from the past. There is no longer any reason to be afraid.”
People also like to joke about Russian generals or rulers Vladimir Putin. subject of many jokes but it is also simply everyday life, which can hardly be separated from war: for example Tinder dates in times when there is still a curfew at night. “It’s a strange feeling that we’re better off as an industry than we were before the war,” says Svyatoslav Sagaykevych, founder of the Kiev project Underground Standup. “But we can probably convey to people best that we are all in the same boat. So it’s kind of logical.”
The Ukrainian music scene has also reformed. For one thing, almost all pop artists who used to be successful on the Russian market finally switched to Ukrainian. On the other hand, the genre of war songs has emerged. A recent hit is the song Fortezja Bachmut (“Fortress Bachmut”) by the popular rock band Antytila (in English: antibodies). The song is on the one hand a powerful, patriotic rock anthem, on the other hand a very thoughtful song. In addition, the charts are also dominated by songs that address the war but are not that serious.
The hit song Ukrajina Peremoshe (“Ukraine will win”), for example, clearly indicates the sentence “Russian warship, fuck you”, which a Ukrainian soldier uttered at the end of February 2022 on Snake Island in the Black Sea in the face of the “Moscow” ejected, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The Russians called on the Ukrainian unit to surrender. Later, Ukrainian missiles sank the Moskva River – a humiliation for Russia and President Putin.
Another hit, a fun mix of dance and folk, samples the short Ukrainian greeting Dobryj Den Everybody (“Hello everyone”) by British ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Although long gone, Johnson remains Kyiv has visited three times since February 24, 2022 and has done a lot for the arming of Ukraine, a cult figure in the country: there are Boris Johnson burgers and croissants, and T-shirts with his face are not uncommon on the streets.
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Like Johnson, Germany now has a firm place in the Ukrainian Pop Culture. At the beginning of the year, when the debate about supplying Leopard main battle tanks was at its peak, the perception was still slightly negative: Internet memes depicting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as a kind of Russian anti-tank weapon were very popular at the time. But when the promise to supply tanks came, sales of clothing with leopard prints, which had actually been out of fashion for a long time, soared – and have remained stable ever since.
Also in high demand are cheetah and leopard stuffed animals, as well as the dog Patron, a Jack Russel Terrier of the Ukrainian civil protection, who was used as a demolition dog in the northern Chernihiv district and became well known throughout the country. There is now even a successful children’s cartoon about the adventures of Patron.
Sometimes, however, the commercialization of war experiences also provokes protests: for example, attempts to name alcoholic beverages after war scenes have been heavily criticized. Everyone knows the village of Chornobjakivka in the Kherson district Ukrainians, because during the occupation of the military airfield there, vast quantities of Russian technology were repeatedly destroyed. When a brewery named its beer after it, consumers didn’t find it funny at all. The same applies to the drink “Kombucha Butscha”.
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