Tuesday is a big day. It's Russian President Vladimir Putin's birthday, and he's celebrating the big 6-2. While 62 may be a non-milestone of a birthday, one birthday present suggests otherwise. For his birthday, Putin received a 12 Labors of Hercules art exhibition, in which the Greek hero is replaced by... Putin. Each "labor," or episode, depicts Putin performing a heroic feat of superhuman strength. While the original Herculean narrative featured mythical beasts, Putin's version sees him defeating his modern enemies, such as terrorism and Western sanctions. Yes, really.
The exhibition, organized by a pro-Putin Facebook group, features artworks by an anonymous collection of artists and is on display in Moscow's Red October space. The group's leader, Mikhail Antonov, told the Guardian:
We’re forming a different image of Putin because the western media constantly criticises him, and our media occasionally attacks him as well. But here we see him completing these heroic deeds. We see that the interpretation of these events is not so categorical.
Hercules, a Greek demigod known for his masculine strength and his many adventures, is a fitting comparison for Putin, who wants you to believe he's the most manly president the world has ever seen. In fact, his legacy might be less defined by his autocratic rule and more by his many activities aiming to ooze machismo. These include, but are not limited to, Putin riding a horse shirtless, fishing shirtless, and hunting shirtless. So, it was probably relatively easy to artistically recreate the scenes of Putin acting like Hercules — there was already so much real-life inspiration.
The 12 Labors of Putin, Apparently
- Fighting a suicide bomber symbolizing terrorism
- Fighting a Lernaean-Hydra-like four-headed snake representing the U.S., Canada, the EU, and Japan's sanctions against Russia
- Hosting the Sochi Olympics ... by fighting a buck?
- Liquidating the oligarchs, represented by an angry boar
- Fighting corruption in the form of stallions
- Speaking out against airstrikes in Syria
- Annexing Crimea, symbolized by two white horses
- Demanding that France honor its contract over the Mistral warships
- Constructing the South Stream pipeline that would go through the Black Sea instead of relying on the traditional route through Ukraine
- Signing a 30-year gas deal with China
- Supporting the Minsk agreement for a ceasefire in Ukraine, proving that peace can be manly too
- Conflict with the U.S., who is depicted as an aggressive three-headed dog
Some Birthday Presents Putin Would Actually Appreciate
- A guide to skinning and tanning, so Putin can turn the game he kills with his bare hands into a cozy lodge draped with rugs and furs,
- Campfire Cologne, because regular cologne just evaporates in fear against his skin.
- Putin-brand vodka, which would be the most appropriate beverage for Putin to offer along with his raw octopus treats.
- 1,000 puppies, so they can crawl all over Putin for adorable photo ops — bonus: he can use them to intimidate political adversaries when they're grown.
- A Hollywood biopic of Putin's adventures, starring the only other man on Earth who is masculine enough to portray him: Chuck Norris.
Image: New York Magazine/Twitter