The video opens with Putin standing in front of a small boy in a large city square (the Kremlin courtyard as it turns out). A crowd quickly forms around the two of them. Putin begins to kneel, hesitates as if reconsidering, and then takes a knee in front of the boy. It sounds like he says "Hello!" to the boy as the cameraman gets closer to the scene. The boy seems like he wants to get away, never really making eye contact with Putin. Putin touches the boy's shirt. The boy starts to walk away, possibly towards a parent, but Putin gently grabs hold of the boy by his sides and brings him back. Putin rubs the boy's sides while he looks at the kid, considers for a moment, and then lifts the boy's shirt and quickly kisses his stomach, as though if he does it fast enough, maybe no one will notice. There is a quick edit and we are in front of Putin and his security team and he is walking towards the camera at a brisk clip, and then he is off, headed camera right towards, one might assume, the Kremlin. The effect of the edit is that Putin is nearly running away from the scene.
It's very very weird to me. When I saw it, I theorized that, perhaps, this clip might have given us a glimpse into some dank, repulsive corner of Putin's psychology. After seeing the video, the word that seems to stick in my head is 'helpless'. Putin seems totally helpless NOT to mess with this kid, even with a camera there and a large group of bystanders. I shudder to think what might have happened had Putin come across this kid where there weren't any other people. I think the tenor of this scene is ickified because the child is not in the same frame with his parent (nor does Putin seem to look for one to ask permission), and the child does not seem particularly cheerful about the attention. Anyway. Enough icky theorizing.
Apparently, this video has been broadcasted all over the Russian TV networks and everyone over there's buzzing about it (which makes me think I'm not the only person who's developed some unsavory theories about the Russian President). So, yesterday, Putin did a Kremlin Internet Conference, which was open to questions from average Russian citizens and people from all over the world. Thousands of the submitted questions were about the stomach-kissing incident. So Putin responded. This is what he said:
"He seemed to me very independent, very serious, but at the same time a boy is always vulnerable. He was very sweet. I'll be honest, I felt an urge to squeeze him like a kitten and that led to the gesture that I made. There was nothing behind it really," Putin said, smiling."I don't think this statement does much to put to rest any lingering feelings of ick, but there it is. Thought it was creepy enough to share.
Also, the movie I worked on back at the end of 2003, Marc Klasfeld's opus, The L.A. Riot Spectacular, will be playing in Los Angeles on August 11th at the Laemmle Sunset 5 Theaters. So if you're in Los Angeles and an outrageous musical version of the LA riots appeals to you, head on down to the Sunset 5, plunk down your $14 or whatever it costs in Los Angeles these days to see a movie, and watch the thing. Then let me know how it is. Apparently Variety liked it, though I am a little suspicious of the ellipsis before the word 'hilarious". The DVD's supposed to come out in the fall, but it would be awesome if this thing had some luck in theaters. Anything can happen.
Anyway, that's what I've got for this week. Have a good weekend er'rybody, and I'll be back to blab more next week. Peace!