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Dr. House Hits Sore Spot with Russians

"Everybody lies": everything Hugh Laurie is wearing and using is captioned with random Russian companies and factories as a riff on his joke that Russia produces nothing for export. Anonymous image distributed online.

“Everybody lies”: everything Hugh Laurie is wearing and using is captioned with random Russian companies and factories as a riff on his joke that Russia produces nothing for export. Anonymous image distributed online.

British actor Hugh Laurie (Gregory House, Bertie Wooster) caused quite a stir on the RuNet this weekend, when he reacted vehemently to a Guardian article [ru] describing Vladimir Putin's views on homosexuality and the Olympics. Laurie tweeted (and was retweeted over 4,000 times):

He followed up the joke a few minutes later, after some users gave vodka as an example of Russian exports:

Twelve hours later Laurie softened his statement:

Laurie's tweets were quickly translated [ru] into Russian, and fell on fertile ground — incensing various patriots, nationalists, and other Russians who may not enjoy outside criticism. Popular photo-blogger Ilya Varlamov tweeted, for instance:

With this tweet I want to officially tell Hugh Laurie to go f*ck himself, together with his opinions of our goods and his plans to boycott them

The hilariously nutty municipal deputy Ernest Makarenko ranted, confusing Laurie and his onscreen persona Dr. House:

How dares this puny doctor Hugh Laurie insult the country which gave birth to Pushkin, Suvorov, Putin, Gagarin, Nevsky, Stolypin, Lobachevsky?!

Makarenko later tweeted [ru] calling to ban Laurie from entering Russia, in order to keep out the “sodomite lobby.” Generally, some homophobic Russians [ru] took Laurie's statements defending Russia's gays to mean that he is gay himself. Lena Miro, a popular fitness blogger, even wrote a long post [ru] arguing that because Laurie has an “ugly” wife, that means he is a closeted homosexual.

Others were happy to point out what they saw as hypocrisies — one blogger noted [ru] that Laurie became well known for playing Bertie Wooster in the BBC productions of P.G. Wodehouse Jeeves and Wooster novels. The same Wodehouse, huffed the blogger, cooperated with Nazis when he was a captive during WWII! Others pointed out [ru] that the UK buys Russian gas and oil, so perhaps Laurie could boycott driving and heating his house.

Still others were more incensed by Laurie's attacks on Russian vodka, than Russia itself. Young journalist and blogger Lolita Gruzdeva wrote a long letter to Laurie [ru], wondering why he is attacking the Russian national drink, and inviting him to visit her in Moscow so she can show him “real” Russia. The spoof twitter account of Vladislav Surkov also tweeted, jokingly:

Hugh Laurie is killing me with his love of Polish vodka, not his russophobia… Russophobia is simply severe delirium, but love of Polish vodka – that's a fatal diagnosis.

This pill from Laurie was perhaps especially hard to swallow because just a few months ago, while on tour in Russia, he said that he “loved” Russian vodka in an interview [ru].

Meanwhile, other netizens engaged in a little soul searching, wondering if Russia does indeed produce anything for export that is worth boycotting. One blogger thought [ru] that Laurie is unlikely to boycott Russian military exports, but that Kaspersky Antivirus is one product that Russians can be proud of. His readers had trouble coming up with more examples.

In the end, after Laurie's “retraction,” the media storm went as quickly as it came, with this joke as a last hurrah:

So, as I understand, this Hugh Laurie doesn't want to boycott depression. What a great f*cking comedian.

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