The Limits of Fun
Who doesn’t like a theme park? There’s junk food, entertainment, rides and toys. Most have a steep price tag but it’s a fun day out with those we love the most: think Disneyland or Universal Orlando. Think again. Not all fun parks are as light-hearted or family values-compliant as those in the US. Let’s examine a few of the more extreme samples abroad: where politics meets fun.
Patriot Park, Moscow suburbs, Russia
Patriot Park is the physical manifestation of aggressive patriotism added to a cult of personality centered on Vladimir Putin, both popular in Russia lately. Opened by President Putin himself last year and costing $370M dollars (not rubles) it looks excellent. If you were a 10 year old boy it’d just about melt your brain, or hopefully make you enlist. There’s a small scale mock-up of the Berlin Reichstag, Germany’s parliament building in the 1930s which was famously stormed by Soviet troops heralding the end of WW2. They storm and “burn” this edifice daily, and you can play with toy or real AK-47s, the Soviet Union’s industrial gift of death to humanity. The Park is adjacent to an aviation museum, Kubinka Air Base, and a tank museum providing military play equipment galore for kids and tank buffs.
For the full Russian effect, with the exception of annexing neighboring nations, visitors can enjoy free army food. Imagine Russian army food for a moment and the horror will become apparent. Human food costs extra.
According to CNN, the park’s secondary function is a military showcase for foreigners to inspect and buy what Russia is selling, to anybody these days, apart from oil and stolen DNC emails. There’s even a great promo reel https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=RRQpt9e06Pg delivered in the same British accent Russian TV employs in its propaganda, a genre untroubled by subtlety or facts. One must ask: At what point does an entertainment facility become an enlistment device for children or an arms showcase for dealers and dictators?
Mleeta Resistance Tourist Landmark, South Lebanon
Seven years ago Lebanon’s Shi’ite “Party of God” (aka Hezbollah, a terrorist organization by many countries’ legal definition) opened an even more bizarre theme park than Russia’s Patriot Park. Hezbollah are friends of friends (Iran) of Russia.
The star attraction is “The Abyss,” a deep pit filled with Israeli war spoils; helmets, boots, (hopefully) disabled bombs, vehicles, and a captured Merkiva tank with its gun tied in a pretty bow: funny. There are also camo-clad mannequins and a WW-1 style trench, popular in South Lebanon, and a “rocket garden” which is exactly what it sounds like.
The Walt Disney of this martyrdomy adventure park is the late Imad Mugniah who is given all sorts of credit and accolades. Before Bin Laden he was the world’s foremost super-terrorist responsible for various acts of sickening violence during the 1980s until his assassination by the booby-trapping of his Mitsubishi in Damascus, 2008.
The haunting aspect of the Mleeta Resistance Tourist Landmark is that its location 27 miles south of Beirut makes it 10 miles as the missile flies north of Israeli artillery, so the hilltop property is an actual military target for Israel. A day at the war park could very easily get more realistic than touted. Admission fee: US$ 2.65. There’s a gift shop, café, and free parking.
Make Love Not War in Korea
To end up on a happier note, let’s enjoy Jeju Love Land http whose motto is “Where the visitor can appreciate the natural beauty of sexuality.”
Jeju (formerly Cheju) Island in South Korea is a popular destination for local and foreign tourists. Until the 1990s it was difficult or politically impossible for Koreans to travel overseas, and sex education in schools was limited and embarrassed. So, with warm temperatures and no parents around (finally! – young Koreans often live with their parents) newlyweds can go off to Jeju, the “Honeymoon Island,” to consummate. Jeju Loveland is there to encourage and educate, with landscaping-gardening and sculpture as teaching aids in their conjugal mission.
The political angle of this theme park is less violent than the above two parks. According to the 2015 edition of the CIA World Factbook, South Korea’s fertility rate ranks 220 among 224 countries worldwide: just about the lowest. In a country hostile to immigration, this is a demographic disaster so any scheme to get the kids breeding is a good idea.
The highlights are a turn-on: two large grass covered boob-like mounds, topped with nipples, off color maybe but still adorable. Sculptures dominate Jeju in fantastic, erotic, and at times hilarious representations of human bonding. A selection here is well worth the deep click if you’re not at work. Disappointingly, the spectators in the photos don’t look like young honeymooners, so one wonders how effective it can be at getting Korea’s birth rate up, but it looks like a fun day out nevertheless. There’s a gift shop but you’ll have to visit to see what they sell! Admittance: $3, 18+ years age limit.
David Anderson is an Australian-American attorney in New York City who writes on law and international politics and enjoys a nice day out at a theme park. He also contributes to Forbes, counterpunch.org and democracychronicles.org/