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A Hostage Standoff in Ukraine Ends with the President's Endorsement of a Joaquin Phoenix Movie. Um, What?

Source - An armed man in Ukraine held 13 people hostage and demanded the country’s president publicly endorse a Joaquin Phoenix film before he’d free them.

According to The New York Times, a standoff between the hostage taker, identified as Maksim Krivosh, and the police lasted nearly 12 hours. One of the man’s demands was that President Volodymyr Zelensky tell Ukrainians to watch the 2005 film “Earthlings,” narrated by Phoenix.

Zelensky followed the request, posting on Facebook, “Everybody watch the 2005 documentary ‘Earthlings.'” He later deleted the post.

The film examines the use of animals in agricultural and scientific industries and includes hidden camera footage of animals suffering. It also compares speciesism to racism and sexism among humans.

After Zelensky posted the message about “Earthlings,” Krivosh released all the hostages and surrendered to police, according to The New York Times. He had let three hostages go earlier in the day after speaking to the president over the phone. None of the hostages were harmed. 

Once again, "Black Mirror" predicts our dystopian near future. With its very first episode, no less. A crazed, extremist sociopath threatens to kill innocent people unless the president of his country does something in public against his wishes. Only this one is in Ukraine instead of the UK. And with a lot less pig sex.

And while we all have reason to be grateful this was all it took and the 13 hostages are unharmed and out of danger, I'm afraid there could be repercussions from this. I'm not saying President Zelensky had a choice, but there are reasons you don't give in to threats like this. Because when you do, you run the risk of more hostages being taken to promote someone else's favorite movie. 

I'm not saying some Joaquin Phoenix fan necessarily, because he doesn't need the help. He was in "Gladiator" and "Signs" and just won an Oscar with "Joker" grossing a billion dollars worldwide. But what if some deranged John Travolta fan gets sick of all his terrible films getting bad reviews? He's on a streak of like five straight movies with a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is almost impossible. I can easily see someone out there taking hostages demanding Trump or Biden telling everyone to rent "Gotti" or "Battlefield Earth" or some piece of shit. And what about huge, die hard Nicholas Cage fans? They have to be pretty unhinged as it is, watching their hero go from masterpieces like "Into the Spider-Verse" to incoherent dreck like "Color Out of Space" and "Grand Isle." All it might take is one more trip into Bizarro World for at least one of them to pull a copycat crime like this. 

So in the future, let's be careful about having world leaders just going around willy-nilly, endorsing movies they've never seen just to placate some dangerous nutjob. Sometimes there can be consequences to negotiating with terrorists.