It’s bad enough that it’s been deemed illegal for anyone in Russia to share or create the now famed image of Vladimir Putin as a gay clown. The very idea that to be “bombastic” (the automatic euphemism for homosexuality) is both somehow an affront to the masses and something a “straight” man should be offended by is already an indication of how little progress we’ve made in the world (especially the Russian part of it)–so often taking one step forward and three steps back.
Though it was technically “nice” of Stephen Colbert, a hetero white male who at least tries to use his influence for good, to try and make light of a bad situation, the video that resulted as a segment on The Late Show only serves to enlarge an unfortunate point: straight people really don’t know how to portray gay men in a non-demeaning way intended to insult the “macho” (read: homophobic) male.
Going for Putin’s jugular by continuing to depict him in heavy makeup, short shorts and no shirt, swaying perkily in front of a sparkly backdrop, is misguided. It doesn’t help that his Putin screams cliches like “Work it girl!” and “I like boys!,” Putin then appears riding a purple unicorn with Donald Trump clutching to his back, the narcissistic “leader” acting as his no longer illicit paramour in this particular scenario.
Though Colbert is positioning the video as a comical act of free speech that shows Americans supporting gay Russians, it leaves a more than funky spunk taste in one’s mouth. And it begs the query: is transforming someone into a gay stereotype still the ultimate insult?