Boyz II Men
Vladimir Putin wants to see more Russians having sex. While most of us imagined that this was one of the things the internet could already supply in superabundance, he wasn't so sure. His problem is that he doesn't just want to see them engaging in performative fuckfests, coming and coming and coming on each other's knees in strange Muscovite night clubs owned by oligarchs' sons for the benefit of some bloke in Tulsa with a Visa card. He wants them to do the sort of firm but conservative fucking that fires semen straight down the neck of the cervix. He wants them to be making babies. Which is why he's booked Boyz II Men to play a show in the Russian capital.
Like any good nation-builder, Putin realises that demography is destiny. And that by any definition, Russians are presently losing the war to make more people. The stats are terrible. In 1991, there were 148 million of them, by 2010, 143 million. Russians are simply not making enough babies. By 2050, there are predicted to be only 111 million Russians. And the global population will be up by another 2 billion. Once mighty Russia will mean dick-all by then.
Putin's advisers are worried, to the extent that, last week, they sought the Kremlin's blessing for Boyz II Men's big upcoming concert. Presumably they're hoping that the raw ejaculatory enticement of "End Of The Road" will encourage drunken couples to go home and fornicate.
It was one of those daft stories that whipped its way around the world's news agencies in an afternoon. But it wasn't the weirdest thing Russia has done to address what Putin has called "our greatest national crisis". Putin had forgotten that women who remember Boyz II Men are no longer of ovulating age, but in broader terms, his concert is only one plank of a strategy that's now as important to him as propping up the Syrian regime or fucking with orphans who want to live in America.
His government has considered re-introducing a Stalin-era tax on childless men. They've improved maternity benefits. He has put in place a large tax credit for having a second kid. In 2007, the government declared a "National Day Of Conception" – with the incentive that any woman who gave birth nine months later stood to win a fridge. Always a great reward for pulling a bowling ball-sized amount of flesh from your vagina. In short, they've done everything except force men with erections to lie down while women of reproductive age roll over them.
But alas, it's been to no tangible avail. It's as if that heavyweight occult love rat Rasputin put a curse on Russia just as death was stealing away agency of his penis. It doesn't help that Russians are also big abortion connoisseurs, with 13 terminations for every ten live births.
Of course, the Russian birth rate isn't the absolute lowest in the world. That's the frigid inhabitants of Macau, followed in short order by baby-hating Hong Kong. Over in Japan, the birth rate has now dropped so low that they sell more adult diapers than kids' ones. The South Koreans, who, with a birth rate of 1.2 kids per woman are also slowly vanishing, can still only barely bring themselves to fuck each other at all. Overall, they report the world's highest levels of sexual dissatisfaction. A third of them still don't intend to have sex before marriage. And, while they're spending all of their time earning virtual swords for each other in Second Life, they're clocking up an average of 4.4 fucks per month, the second-worst rate in the world after the Taiwanese.
But unlike the East Asians, who all live to 120 on a diet of brown rice and raw salmon, it's the astonishing Russian death rate that is the other prong sealing their fate. Russian men die on average at 59. They drink hard. They smoke fast. They never exercise. Then one day their hearts go pop while they're fumbling for change down the back of the couch.
Which is why, after years of whatever-ism, Putin has suddenly become zealous in his war against alcohol. He's implemented a ban on drinking in public, no sales after 11PM and minimum pricing policies. It hasn't worked. Five years ago, moonshine vodka was already 35 percent of the market. By 2014, it'll likely be 60 percent. The fact is that Russians just want to die – that's what they do: 16 million of them in the Second World War alone. Look at the ones who climb massive things all the time, or the amount that end up being Bond villians. Death is already the Russian way of life.
And now they're fast becoming human pandas. You can put dirty magazines in their cages, feed them on bamboo, asparagus and oysters, but still, their extinction is guaranteed by a kind of lethargy towards life itself. The very fatalism that has always defined the Russian temperament – the ability to bear the cold, the wars, the dictators, with a hollow shrug, is now, in tandem with modern contraception, being turned against their species.
Rather than rebel against conditions – the low wages, crumbling housing, general oppression – Russians are voting with their uteruses, and simply, rather elegantly, deciding to phase themselves out. In Communist times they built boats out of lolly-sticks and sailed to Finland. Now, the only real way out of Putin's Russia is to never have been born in the first place. That's easier to achieve.
In time, like the Mayans or the Great Zimbabwe Shona before them, the Russians will just become a half-submerged myth – a quaint set of cracked ruins we can bus out to. To look upon St Basil's and think about how strange yet mighty the people who built it must've been. Did you know they used to make bears dance? And that they invented the idea of the faux-lesbian pop band? Bizarre.
Follow Gavin on Twitter: @hurtgavinhaynes