There is a first Polish Netflix production. The story is set in alternative reality, where in 2003 communist party is still in power as a result of the unification of the nation after a chain of terrorist attacks in 1983. I watched it, and I do agree with the critics: the story is not really convincing, the screenwriter failed to create that atmosphere of communism (perhaps because he is an American who only came to Poland 6 years ago) and, while worth watching if you have nothing better to do, you can find much better things on Netflix to binge on. With that words, I guess I found myself in the ranks of “hateful wankers”, as Agnieszka Holland, one of the series directors, was kind to describe people, who don’t see her newest work to be a masterpiece. If we believe her, those criticizing her work have no clue, as American reviews are “fucking great”… So much for the intellectual elites in our countries.
This would be not really relevant, if not for the fact, that it becomes a norm in today’s Poland: nothing can be discussed in a cultured way any more. A long time real-life friend of mine just stormed out of our motoring related group of friends on Facebook after finding that some of us there don’t agree with him and think that spending nearly 100 000 000 zł on a struggling Williams F1 team in order to ensure that Robert Kubica can drive an F1 car again is not really a good marketing move for Orlen (why government suddenly desires to throw money at Kubica was explained in one of the previous chapters of the series). Those who support a sponsorship deal for Kubica accuse opponents of being ignorants but fail to address any arguments. The discussion seems to orbit around the point, that if the state-controlled oil company is to waste money anyway, it is better if it wastes it on Kubica than on father Rydzyk. And this is an example of another PiS success: they managed to shift the gravity of discussion from people protesting against money being wasted in the first place to people engaging in discussions which way of wasting money is better…
And if you hope that with millions being thrown at Kubica there will be less money for father Tadeusz Rydzyk, a media mogul and influential figure in politics, then you are naive. Half of the government just went to Toruń with a kowtowing visit. They celebrated 27th anniversary of Radio Maryja, Rydzyk’s first media establishment. “[Holy Mary], please take care of our whole nation, even of those, who don’t yet love their motherland as much as we, the family of Radio Maryja” – prayed the prime minister, making it pretty clear who is the role model for the rest of the Poles…
Apparently president Duda does not love Poland enough, as he wasn’t present in Toruń. He was probably too busy taking selfies with horses at an agricultural fair in Poznań:
Polský prezident Andrzej Duda (vlevo) na rolnické výstavě v Poznani. pic.twitter.com/ObR4Pj2Gsy
— Jan Škvrňák (@jan_skvrnak) 30 listopada 2018
As usual, memes and internet jokes followed quickly:
— Sandra Olechnowicz-Gazda (@SOlechnowicz) 2 grudnia 2018
Who would make better president of Poland?
But while Andrzej Duda might be not the best president, he would make up a decent stand up comedian. He made a speech at the UN Global Warming summit in Katowice. Those who came could hear that “Katowice is one of the greenest cities in Poland” (it is not), that “energetics based on coal is not contradictory with climate protection” and that Poland burns coal to ensure energetic sovereignty, which is also a load of crap, as we become more and more reliant on coal import. Last year import grew by more than 70% and most of it is being imported from Russia (and some of that from Russian occupied Donbas).
Luckily, not many people have to listen to president’s crap. Less than 1/3 of invited guests turned up at the summit. Some battled odds to come to Katowice: Austrian president had a chance to experience first hand joys of travelling with Polish railways, after the train turned out without the car in which his delegation had booked their seats. But the most awaited guest are not here. Leonardo DiCaprio, UN Special Envoy for Climate Change have not been even invited. Others – like Merkel, Macron, Trump, Putin or Poroshenko – decided to give it a miss (so much for PiS claim, that top politicians are going to celebrate centenary of our independence during their visit to Poland in December – see more here). “It just shows how little they care about Climate Change” said deputy foreign minister. Funny, coming from the country that just decided against raising penalties for removing DPF filters from diesel vehicles, the country that penalties for drivers of polluting vehicles are amongst the lowest in the EU, and the country that thought that it will be a good idea to welcome participants in UN Climate Change summit with coal-miners brass orchestra:
— Katowice PressOffice (@BiuroPrasoweKce) 3 grudnia 2018
But of course, this is not the end of comedy this week. A local prosecutor from Legnica might be punished for taking part in protests against PiS breaking the constitution. Taking parts in such protests is against the rule that requires prosecutors to stay out of politics – says state prosecutor Bogdan Święczkowski, who in 2011 has been elected as an PiS MP, but was not sworn in, as the constitution does not permit that one person is a prosecutor and an MP at the same time and he refused to choose.
Meanwhile on the opposite end of Poland, in Olsztyn, police arrested two paintings. One – depicting an eagle with a large penis, is said to be insulting Polish coat of arms, the other – depicting a naked hermaphrodite being taken off the cross – is offensive to religious feelings (the paintings can be seen here). While for me personally artist’s fascination with penises is yet another proof, that modern art and doodles of 10 years old have a lot in common, I would still rather see art to be criticized than arrested…
Speaking of modern art – graffiti bombing just went to a new level. A moving Lower Silesia Railways train has been sprayed with red paint using a pressure hose. I am sure modern art critics would be able to find a real deepness in the so far unknown man’s performance, but the railway company is not amused – they announced a 5000 zł prize for someone able to help catch the perpetrator.
Also, a football pitch has been mysteriously covered with patterns similar to that of the Nazca lines in Peru. This time though, it had nothing to do with the art. It was just a young BMW driver, who wanted to practice making doughnuts with his car. He has been apprehended by the police and apart from the penalty charges he is to face costs of repairing the pitch, that might be as high as 50 000 zł.
And probably he has no chance that the whole parish is going to pray for that he does not have to pay it. Unlike a priest from a village near Radom, who dressed up his church with a gigantic rosary. The problem is, that he did it illegally, and since the church is a listed building, that had been damaged in the process, he has now been ordered to remove it and pay 10 000 fine. It’s quite an unusual decision, as normally church is treated quite well by the state institution.
Earlier this year, a court ruled in the famous case of a small chapel in a village of Złożeniec. When a small shrine placed in one family’s garden became a place of worship, the family have got a small chapel constructed around it. This chapel was built in 1970 and was supposed to be a temporary solution until the church will be built in the village. About a decade ago a new priest arrived in the village and decided that improving the existing building will be easier than building a new place of worship from scratch. The owners of the chapel protested, so the church claimed usucaption, but lost, as the family never abandoned their property, but merely allowed others to use it. That started the war between the local community and the new generation of the property owners. A woman who still lives there is hounded in her own village and even been badly assaulted in their own yard for merely trying to use her own land as she pleases. Finally, she had enough, and filed a claim, demanding 200 000 zł for unlawful use of their property. Court agreed with the claim, but awarded the family with 240 zł only, which is in a stark contrast, as when the family tried to demolish a small stone wall built illegally at their land, they ended up paying 6000 zł in damages and legal costs…
But at least we can still write about it. This is not the case with the latest financial scandal (see here), when National Bank of Poland sued six journalists, demanding that texts describing the newest scandals that mention NBP and it’s chief Adam Glapiński are to be removed (even from the print copies of the paper!) and blanket ban on any future texts mentioning Glapiński name in this context. This would make reporting on the scandal nearly impossible, as the accused in this case is his protégé, and many factors indicate, that Glapiński himself might be in some way involved as well…
So this is one way how you can become muzzled in Poland. The other way to be taken off the air is to criticize Kaczyński. Even one of the biggest stars of TVP, Wojciech Cejrowski, will no longer be invited to his weekly prime-time interview after he mentioned (in other media) that Kaczyński should be slapped in the face for that he (in Cejrowski’s view) disrespected a woman. Incidentally, when Cejrowski praised slapping a woman in the face (see more here) or spread racist, hateful views, it has not been a problem for TVP. It’s only Kaczyński that is untouchable.
1000’s of Poles cannot stand Cejrowski and protested against making him into leading political commenter in state TV. To no avail. He was unsinkable until he criticized Our Beloved Leader.
If that is the only chance for Poles to get rid of someone, then I am afraid PiS is to stay here for a while, dancing to father’s Rydzyk tune:
— Lehoo (@leszek_kulinski) 1 grudnia 2018
This piece was published in Britske Listy
Picture: Public Domain