Russia’s using pop music on YouTube to ridicule millennial protesters

Alisa Vox/YouTube

These tunes are catchy! They’re also Russian propaganda.

Russian authorities seem to be trying a new weapon against rowdy millennial protesters: YouTube.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny already uses the video platform to raise awareness about government corruption, but now it seems like the Kremlin is trying to get in on the action. Why? Russian millennials played a big role in widespread protests against government corruption back in March, and YouTube happens to be one of their favorite platforms. So if they’re getting their critical analysis from these videos, why not casually throw some government-sponsored positive takes into the mix too? Who’s gonna notice?

The answer, it turns out, is everyone.

A music video uploaded this week by singer Alisa Vox features her dressed as a teacher and lecturing a teen. According to the BBC, the lyrics admonish him for making a protest sign that has “no fewer than four spelling mistakes,” and promises, “It’s never too late to learn from your mistakes… If you heart wants change, kid, then start with yourself.” The song also suggests that “freedom, money and girls—even power” might be the rewards for living a less radical lifestyle.

The YouTube community isn’t buying it, though. Comments have been disabled, and at the time of publication, there are over 15 times more thumbs down than up in the video’s ratings.

YouTube Russian rapper Ptakha tried uploading a similar video of his own in April and met similar results. The song, which calls protesters in a now-iconic image from March “rich brats on lamp-posts,” also has disabled comments paired with overwhelmingly negative viewer ratings.

It seems like creative communities driven by user feedback aren’t the most welcoming space for government propaganda. Who could have guessed?

H/T BBC News

Christine Friar

Christine Friar

Christine Friar is a writer and editor in New York who focuses on streaming entertainment and internet culture. Her work has appeared in the Awl, the Fader, New York Magazine, Paper Magazine, Vogue, Elle, and more.