Elton John vs Putin Debate On Homosexuality

Dear Readers:

Today we have an interesting and heated debate between Rock Legend Elton John and Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the topic of homosexuality.  The kerfuffle started when a Russian film distribution company cut a sex scene out of the film Rocketman, which is the story of Elton’s life.

Full disclosure:  I have not seen this movie, so I don’t know what they are talking about.  I also have not seen the Russian version, so I don’t know if it was dubbed or subtitled.  According to this source, the Russian distributor cut out 5 minutes of footage depicting gay men kissing.  “The film’s final statement was also edited to say John had established an AIDS foundation, instead of saying that John lives with his husband and children.”  This to comply with Russian legislation which bans homosexual imagery or information about “alternate lifestyles” when children are present.  Which implies, logically, that the Russian film was a “general-viewing” type thing, in other words not labelled as “Adults only”.  Not there were any pornographic images, apparently.  No actual sodomy.  Just men kissing, and the implication that two guys can get married and adopt children.  Which, by the way, they can’t do in Russia.  Two guys can live together and be gay in Russia, no problem, but they wouldn’t be allowed to adopt children.

Anyhow, Elton was very upset about this Russian censorship and what he considered deleting an important component of his life story.  Namely, his identity as a homosexual and the love and happiness he has found with his partner and children.

What happened next was that President Putin was asked about this situation during an interview with the Financial Times.  This was a very small part of the overall interview, but resulted in some juicy soundbites that everybody snapped on, like a dog to a snausage:

“The liberal idea has become obsolete.”  [Putin is talking about unrestricted immigration.]

“Traditional values are more stable and more important for millions of people than this liberal idea, which, in my opinion, is really ceasing to exist.” [Here he is actually talking about homosexuality and ALT-genders.]

Putin’s sound-bites sent liberals into a frenzy.  Elton John who, in the past has enjoyed a love-hate relationship with Putin, addressed to the Russian President this open letter via Instagram:

Dear President Putin,

I was deeply upset when I read your recent interview in the Financial Times. I strongly disagree with your view that pursuing policies that embrace multicultural and sexual diversity are obsolete in our societies. I find duplicity in your comment that you want LGBT people to “be happy” and that “we have no problem in that”. Yet Russian distributors chose to heavily censor my film “Rocketman” by removing all references to my finding true happiness through my 25 year relationship with David and the raising of my two beautiful sons. This feels like hypocrisy to me.

I am proud to live in a part of the world where our governments have evolved to recognise the universal human right to love whoever we want. And I’m truly grateful for the advancement in government policies that have allowed and legally supported my marriage to David. This has brought us both tremendous comfort and happiness.

Respectfully,

Elton John

A key word in Elton’s cri du coeur was the word duplicity.  Elton apparently struck a nerve there, since duplicitousness and hypocrisy are two things highly despised by Russians.  Putin in particular prides himself on his transparency and lack of guile.

Elton and David pose with their family.

Just to rub it in, Elton posted a picture of his happy family with the word “CENSORED” plastered over it.  Which, by the way, is not an unfair call-out per se, since Russian media does indeed censor such images, at least in the presence of children.  In Russia the legal age of adulthood is 18.  Which means that anybody below that age should not have it brought to their attention, that homosexuality exists among humankind, nor that certain governments permit same-sex marriages to be registered, and even allow gay couples to adopt children, if just having cats isn’t enough to satisfy their maternal/paternal instincts.  Russian schools do have a form of sex education in the curriculum, by the way (since 2012), but it is a pretty shabby affair, mostly dominated by the teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church.  Which focuses on the usual Medievalist combination of “abstinence” and anti-abortion rhetoric instead of safe sex or trying to prevent pregnancies in the first place.  Homosexuality is not even mentioned as a thing, it goes without saying.  Hence, Russian teens are not at all savvy about sexual behavior and left to the tender mercies of the priests and their own peers.

Is There A Linear Progression To Enlightenment?

A deeper issue is the whole concept of “Enlightenment” or “Progress”.  Western progressives are used to thinking, and believing, that there is a steady progression of thinking within mankind.  Humans used to be savages, women were treated like chattel.  Eventually and gradually, people came to realize that women are equal to men.  By the same token, homosexuals are people too and should be granted the same rights as heterosexuals, even if they are in a minority.  Nations like the United States underwent this change in thinking over a period of about 50 years.  The “Gay Liberation” movement was sort of an add-on to the Women’s Lib movement.  As society became more tolerant, Americans started to believe, with the fervor of the converted, that other nations must follow the same path in their thinking and legislation.

The Stonewall Riots in 1969 marked the start of the American Gay Rights movement.

For people who believe in that form of logical progression of society, from Darkness to Light, Intolerance to Tolerance, Putin’s off-hand comment about the obsolescence of “liberalism” was like a slap to the face.

Gay activists, shockingly, come face to face with the reality that certain cultures are just stubbornly “traditional” and don’t want to hear their point of view.  Even worse, there is the implication that the legislation achieved in Western countries, is simply a flash in the pan, and could be reversed at any moment.  Rather than humanity marching forward into this beautiful future of enlightenment and tolerance, there is the implication that societies will turn backwards:  Back into the past of intolerance, hatred and darkness, the dominance of religious elites and the burning of witches.  That’s a scary thought.  What is to stop even Western societies from regressing once the Apocalypse arrives?  Returning to the Middle Ages, or worse.  A time when women were locked up in harems and “sexual perverts” were burned at the stake?  And the reason why I keep mentioning women and gays in the same sentence should be obvious:  All issues of sexuality, even male-on-male homosexuality, ultimately tag back to the issue of women, and their status in society.  They all tag back to society’s attitude about the role of women, the role of religion, and the raising of families.

Putin’s Response

Okay, so we saw how Elton zinged Putin by calling him “duplicitous”.  Putin responded … and this turned out to be a pretty good discussion.  As happens when honest opinions are exchanged by men of good will who treat each other with respect.  Putin is not one of those crude haters whose response to Elton on Twitter was just “Shut up, faggot!”  No, his response was thoughtful, if not necessarily what Elton wanted to hear.  See, Elton John is an artist, and a rather great one at that, but he is an artist, and artists tend to think with their emotions rather than their reason.  Putin is not an artist, he is a politician, but not a crude nor ignorant one.  This is what he had to say about the matter yesterday.  The Russian President was in Osaka, Japan, at the time (Summit of 20 Nations) when asked, at a press conference, to comment on Elton John’s remarks, and his accusation of Russian duplicity:

“You mentioned Elton John.  I respect him very much, he is a genius musician.  He comes to play in Russia sometimes, and we always love to listen to him.  But I think he is mistaken, I have not exaggerated anything, we truly do have a calm and accepting attitude towards the representatives of LGBT society.  A truly even-handed and non-prejudicial attitude.”

Just how ludicrous can things get, before everybody dies laughing?

Putin went on to say:  “Now it is true that we have a law, that people are always dinging us for:  This law forbids the propaganda of homosexuality among minors.  But you know, the minor can grow up, become an adult, and then he can decide what he wants to be.  Just leave the children alone.”

Putin went on to complain, that the LGBT society acts too aggressively, in trying to force its views onto the unwilling majority.  The Russian President then could not resist some trolling and poking fun at Western excesses, how much things have gotten out of hand [and he is right here, things have gotten truly ludicrous in this arena]:  “What don’t you see nowadays?  Five or six genders now?  Transformers, trances, I don’t understand any of it any more!” [laughs]

While no children or animals were harmed in the course of this debate, neither were any minds changed.  But that people can just talk about it, well, that’s a start.

Who is to Blame?

In her piece on this issue, VZGLIAD reporter Natalia Anufrieva pointed out that the editing of the Rocketman film, the thing that started this whole discussion, was not really that egregious, it did not censor the key arc in the film, which is the story of Elton’s search for same-sex love.  Nor did it cut scenes involving abuse of alcohol and drugs.  [O what will the children think!  Cover their tiny eyes!]

Lucy: “Why are we in twin beds?” Ricky: “We don’t want to corrupt the children.”

Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Culture (headed by Vladimir Medinsky) washes his hands of the “censorship” charge and tries to lob the blame onto the film distribution company.  Which, in turn, just shrugs and says they were only complying with Russian law.  And, before Westies get too heated up about this issue, they should try to remember a time when Hollywood also had “standards”, for example, you were not allowed to show even a married couple sleeping in a double bed, they had to lie in twin beds!

And don’t even think of Hollywood movies depicting homosexual behavior until, maybe the late 1960’s.  According to the “Progress marches on” philosophy, Russia is 40 or 50 years behind the U.S. in this regard.  (Saudia Arabia maybe 1,000 years.)  That is to say, if progress does march on.  Or is “liberalism” truly dead, and will “traditional values” just prevail, in the end, as President Putin has implied?  In which case, Rocketman will just have to go back into his closet.

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17 Responses to Elton John vs Putin Debate On Homosexuality

  1. James lake says:

    NB. You refer to “women’s rights” it’s not so clearcut (in the USA and in the UK) the race of the women determined what rights they had.

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    • yalensis says:

      James, I honestly have no idea what you are trying to say.

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      • Patient Observer says:

        White women have more rights than black women.

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        • yalensis says:

          Ah! Of course! When he said “the race of women” I heard that as, something like, “the group of people called women”, wasn’t even thinking of actual race as in ethnic. LOL.

          And of course James is right about that. Women don’t stand in isolation, they are always a component of other partitions of society such as class, race, etc.
          But I would disagree with the generalized assertion that “white women have more rights than black women” (unless you are being sarcastic). A very wealthy black woman like Oprah has more rights (or should I say, privileges) than the white lady greeter at Walmart’s. Generally speaking, in the scheme of things… Class usually trumps race, unless one is at a Klan rally.

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  2. Patient Observer says:

    The problem with most arguments regarding increased LGBT rights is that there is apparently no “gay” gene despite fevered attempts to find such. Black and other racial minorities have a strong justification regarding equality of treatment because there is absolutely no doubt that racial differences are genetic and are simply variations in the human condition. Full equality of races is mandatory in my view.

    Not so with homosexuality. It is an acquired condition brought about by early childhood experience. Should people receive special treatment and rights simply because of childhood experience? It can be said that such people are in some way “handicapped” but I suspect that would not fly well in the LGBT that seeks special protection and status if not elevation in society.

    The LGBT community MUST have the opportunity and access to young children to perpetuate their “kind” as there appears to be no other way for them to propagate. Is a child better off being “converted” to homosexual behavior? I don’t see how but perhaps you can enlighten me in that regard,

    Regarding unstoppable progress toward enlightenment, I don’t see it at all. I do see an increasing degree of self-abortion which leads to the need for the self-absorbed to view themselves as apart and better than the Other.

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    • Patient Observer says:

      oops – meant to write “self-absorption” but it came out “self-abortion”. Hmmm, that actually captures my intent better!

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      • yalensis says:

        Okay, in that case I’ll leave your typo without editing!

        Anyhow, you write with complete certainty that “there is no gay gene”, that “it is an acquired condition brought about by early childhood experience.”
        Fact is, you don’t know that, you’re just speculating like everyone else. Why don’t we wait for the science to weigh in on this one? Let’s wait for the scientists to crack the human genetic code and discover how genes do or do not, control sexual behavior and romantic attitudes.

        BTW I have 2 sisters, one is gay the other straight. Their childhood experiences were quite similar. Anecdotal, I know. But no less speculative than your assertions.

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        • Patient Observer says:

          I am not seeking to be controversial or argumentative. There are ongoing efforts (ongoing for many years) to find a gay gene or a combination of genes that correlate with homosexual behavior. Per the internet, some statistical evidence exists but the studies are limited and open to interpretation. Given the foregoing, it would be safe to conclude that there is no specific gay gene but perhaps there are a combination of genes that increase the potential for homosexual behavior when the right environmental factors are present.

          Perhaps these same gene combinations could also lead to obesity or depression or risk taking or artistic achievement when other conditions are present. But the studies are focused on a very narrow objective defined by a non-scientific imperative – sort of like Nazi science seeking genetic correlations to support their beliefs about racial superiority.

          I have a gay cousin who is successful and simply a nice person. We have a gay employee who is well liked and respected. Both do not celebrate their gayness nor do they deny it. There is simply no need to highlight that aspect of their lives. That is the way it should be just as Putin has recommended.

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          • yalensis says:

            I can agree with that. While pointing out that the right to “not deny it” and still keep one’s job and not be lynched on the street, was an important achievement in and of itself for homosexuals in Western culture. (Which includes Russia.)

            And that would be my advice to gays as well: To limit one’s struggle to tolerance and acceptance, i.e., be able to “not deny it” and still keep one’s job and not be lynched. Trying to go beyond such struggle for minimal acceptance and tolerance risks backlash of the majority against the minority. Which is why I advise gays to tone it down.

            What must be avoided, at all costs, is the risk of violence. It sickens me when I see various troglodytes on the internet advising, e.g., sexual violence as the way to “cure” homosexuals. This is particularly disturbing when directed against homosexual females. In certain backward cultures (like in India, Africa and other places), this is precisely how females are punished for “aberrant” behavior that their society does not approve of. Namely, via gang rape. I’m not exaggerating about that, it really happens. And you see internet people advising such “therapy” and getting “likes” from other troglodytes. One has to wonder where such rage comes from.

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          • yalensis says:

            And P.S.
            It is a fact that Russia’s most prominent homosexual, Tchaikovsky, had an absolutely normal and delightful childhood, by all accounts. Wonderful parents, lovely family.
            Human beings are complicated critters, no?

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  3. Mark Chapman says:

    And in fact the pedophile realm anxiously awaits the discovery of a ‘gay gene’ as well; if the homosexual condition could be demonstrated to be genetically-related, then the door would be open for pedophiles to claim they also were victims of a compulsion they were powerless to resist. Activists like the repulsive Peter Tatchell have said as much. Gays cannot be blamed specifically for child-sex advocates leaping aboard their bandwagon, but suffice it to say that the vehicle is convenient to both.

    I would remind everyone that the western democracies which coddle and revere gays are the same ones who shouted down Russia’s resolution to condemn the public glorification of Nazism. No, the world must be safe for skinheads to zig here and there with their swastika tattoos and T-shirts bearing various accolades to Hitler…but it is absolutely forbidden to speak your distaste for public adulation of homosexuality. There’s freedom of expression, and then there’s freedom of expression.

    I don’t dislike gays for what they are – to me, they are individuals whom, if I know them personally, are liked or disliked on their own merits. Those I don’t know personally are viewed the same way – don’t make me notice, and I don’t care. Everybody should have the freedom to indulge themselves as they like during their privacy as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. But I don’t ask anyone to celebrate my sexual tastes, and I don’t expect them to ask me to celebrate theirs.

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    • yalensis says:

      In my Elton John blogpost I made an “editorial decision” – haha! — not to get into the geopolitical issues, like how Western governments use gays as a battering ram against Russia, etc. It’s a fair issue, and I have written about that too.
      Yeah, Westies use gays just like they use Nazis. Hey, how about gay Nazis, did they think of that one? A zigging Pride Parade attacking the very foundations of the Russian state.

      For this post I just wanted to concentrate on the “gentleman’s debate” between Elton and Putin. Both are behaving like civilized gentlemen although Elton, to be sure, is over-emotional, but then he’s an artist, so what can you do?

      As for the Russian law which resulted in the editorial cuts to the movie, the law sort of makes Russia a laughingstock in some circles, just sayin’… Everybody knows that Elton is as gay as a bluejay in May, therefore if they are repulsed by this, they should just make their own editorial decision not to go see the movie. If some Russians do go to see the movie, they should be allowed to see it in the form of the final cut.

      Hopefully with subtitles not dubbing, but don’t even get me started on that issue…
      🙂

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    • Ben says:

      “And in fact the pedophile realm anxiously awaits the discovery of a ‘gay gene’ as well; if the homosexual condition could be demonstrated to be genetically-related, then the door would be open for pedophiles to claim they also were victims of a compulsion they were powerless to resist.”

      This is a non-issue. In my experience everyone who makes this kind of slippery slope argument (“If we allow gay marriage, what next? Legal pedophilia? BESTIALITY?!”) absolutely refuses to engage with the concept of consent. Even if being a pedophile is a natural sexual attraction (and for the record, I’m inclined to believe it probably is, at least for some people), that wouldn’t justify making it legal. It wouldn’t be possible for the child to give informed legal consent, any more than a donkey or sheep could (well, who knows, maybe animals can consent to bestiality. But we can’t know for sure, so they simply can’t as far as the law is concerned). Gay sex is and should be legal because what consenting adults do with each other as a general rule isn’t any business of the state. But there can’t be any legal consent on the child’s part in an adult-child relationship. Additionally we know how damaging sexual contact can be for children. If pedophilia is genuinely a natural part of the spectrum of human sexuality, that would make legal pedophilia good for the adult, but it would still remain bad for the child. And thus it will remain illegal.

      Fear-mongering about imminent legal pedophilia seems to me to just be a petty, utterly bad faith way to smear gay adults and poison the debate with something that is both ugly and repulsive, and also irrelevant. Gay adults are gay because they’re attracted to other adults of the same sex. They aren’t pedophiles (in fact most pedophiles are straight, as in men attracted to girls), and they don’t want legal pedophilia.

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  4. Ryan Ward says:

    A few assorted reactions…

    “All issues of sexuality, even male-on-male homosexuality, ultimately tag back to the issue of women, and their status in society. They all tag back to society’s attitude about the role of women, the role of religion, and the raising of families.”

    I think this is both true and important, but often avoids notice. A lot of people talk as if “gay rights” and “feminism” are separate issues, but they’re really two sides of the same issue. The issue is whether gender and/or biological sex have a normative component or not. Of course, “feminism” is an extremely protean thing, so I’ll specify what I’m talking about as “liberal feminism”, which I think can be usefully defined as the belief that maleness and femaleness have no normative component. This can take the form of the complete denial of any intrinsic differences at all, but it doesn’t have to. It can also take the more qualified form of the assertion that any differences that may exist between male and female should not be the basis of any firm distinction in terms of their roles or the expectations placed upon them. Once this premise is accepted, there’s no rationally defensible grounds left for distinguishing in any normative way between heterosexual and homosexual relationships. If men and women are interchangeable in all respects (in terms of roles and expectations) it’s completely arbitrary to fence off marriage as being the one exception to the general rule, then not even following through on making it an exception (since the roles of “husband” and “wife”, under liberal feminism, cannot have any fixed difference between them). A big part of the push for “gay rights” involved the charge that distinctions between heterosexual and homosexual relationships were arbitrary. Given the background of society’s general acceptance of the premises of liberal feminism, this charge was completely accurate.

    “Rather than humanity marching forward into this beautiful future of enlightenment and tolerance, there is the implication that societies will turn backwards: Back into the past of intolerance, hatred and darkness, the dominance of religious elites and the burning of witches.”

    John Gray, a British author who really should get more attention than he has, makes a useful distinction between “progress” and “Progress”. By “progress” (small p) he’s referring to the simple phenomenon of positive changes. Anyone who believes that any state of affairs is preferable to any other, and believes that not every change that occurs is for the worse (ie. pretty much everyone), believes in “progress”. However, this is an entirely different matter from believing in “Progress” (capital P), some mysterious force that guarantees that history will move in the “right” direction. Gray notes that “Progress” began as a belief in liberal Christianity, and makes sense in this context (It makes sense for history to have a direction if God is guiding it. The main difference between more liberal and more conservative forms of Christianity in this respect is that conservative forms of Christianity see God as being more permissive in allowing evil to flourish, meaning that, while history is teleological in the end, it doesn’t necessarily move in the right direction in the meantime). However, once belief in “Progress” is secularized, it makes no sense whatsoever. State of affairs A can be unquestionably better than State of affairs B, but that’s no reason to expect that A will occur. Even a superficial study of history will show that it doesn’t have any easily discernible direction, and changes in one era often simply reverse those of another era. To take liberal feminism as an example, Europe moved in the direction of liberal feminism in the late Roman era and in the 18th century (not as far as modern society has moved, but still significantly). These advances (if they’re seen as advances) were however decisively reversed in the Middle Ages and the early 19th century. Of course, there’s also a third option, where a new state of affairs C comes into existence which is not particularly similar to either A or B. In the area of both feminism and gay rights, most “traditionalists” are actually “Option C’ers”. Very few people want to re-criminalize homosexuality or re-introduce legal disadvantages for women. It’s very dishonest for supporters of the liberal line on feminism and gay rights to portray their opponents as wanting to “turn back the clock”. The vast majority of social conservatives on these issues tend more toward the position of CS Lewis, who said that “equality” (in the liberal sense of functional sameness) is like clothes that should be worn during the day and taken off at night. Most social conservatives, I think, are in favour of something very like the official situation in present-day Russia (I’m saying “official situation” to distinguish between what Russian law actually lays down and the kind of thuggish violence that sometimes occurs in Russia, particularly toward homosexuals). As Putin rightly notes, it’s simply dishonest to say that contemporary Russia has simply failed to change in these respects. Rather, it has changed in a different way from the Western countries.

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