This blog has a long history of obsession with those commercials that appear repeatedly during the online viewing [it’s possible every one of those words links to a different post] of Colbert and the Daily Show.
Well, welcome to the most recent installment, in which I break down the latest offering from GameStop, featuring Russian superhero “Comrade Kielbasa” (or, I suppose, “Komrade Kielbasa”). I would really encourage you to watch the video for yourself, but if you’re for some reason too lazy, I included the complete text immediately after:
Comrade Kielbasa: Criminalskis beware! It is I, Comrade Kielbasa – The Defender of Truth and Enemy of Nogoodniks everywhere! Taste the righteous spice of my power sausages. Eat the Meat of Justice!
Voiceover: Be a Russian superhero that’s actually cool. Unlock Red Sun missions and skins for Superman, Wonder Woman, and Solomon Grundy – only when you preorder Injustice at GameStop. Power to the players. Rated T for teen.
Now, before I go on with this post, another aside: I don’t only write about commercials that “air” on Comedy Central’s website. Sometimes I write about real things, and one time, that real thing was Nazi death camps in Poland. Said post is currently my most commented-on of all time because it made a lot of Polish people very unhappy, and as a result of our lengthy rapprochement, I now consider myself something of an expert on Polish history and culture.
I also really like Tofurky-brand Kielbasa-flavored (is that technically a flavor?) sausages, so I’m sort of authoritative on Polish food, as well.
So it was, that after watching the commercial a few times (we’re talking like one commercial break), it occurred to me that kielbasa is not a Russian food — it is a Polish food! And so it follows that Comrade Kielbasa is not a Russian superhero at all! The commercial doesn’t actually make any sense, and is probably somewhat insulting to Polish nationalists! Someone alert all those angry people who commented on my earlier post.
But before I wrote anything up in defense of my newfound Polish friends, I decided to do a little research (i.e. due diligence). According to Wikipedia, I was mostly right:
In the United States, the form kiełbasa (usually /kiːlˈbɑːsə/ or /kɨˈbɑːsə/) is more often used and comes from the Polish kiełbasa [kʲewˈbasa] “sausage”. In New Jersey, Pennsylvania and most areas of Greater New York City, a derivative of the Polish word is used, pronounced /kəˈbɑːsiː/.
But even according to Wikipedia, kielbasa is not exclusively Polish. Yes, Poland receives the bulk of the article’s text, but it also includes sections for the United States, Canada, Hungary, and the Ukraine. And way down at the bottom of the page, under “Elsewhere”, we get to Russia:
Similar sausages are found in other Slavic nations as well, notably Russia (spelled “колбаса”, i.e. “kolbasa”)…
Kolbasa, eh? I went back to the commercial with an ear for the pronunciation, and I admit: it’s just as likely the superhero identifies himself as Comrade Kolbasa as Comrade Kielbasa. I had only been sure the word I heard was “Kielbasa” because in my parochial American ignorance, it was the only option I’d actually heard of. I’d say that’s an excusable error.
But while the Injustice ad might come out OK on culinary accuracy, I still have another objection, this one more substantive and structural than the last.
The whole point of the ad is that Comrade Kolbasa is lame and boring. And I call slander, for nothing could be farther from the truth; portraying him as a doofus twirling meat-based nunchucks is borderline “criminalski”.
You see, there actually was a Comrade Kolbasa — Comrade Yakov Ivanovich Kolbasa, to be precise — and he earned the Red Army’s Order of Glory III, along with Bravery Medal # 1467328 and Bravery Medal # 2454005 for his exploits during World War II. I can’t summarize his accomplishments any better than they were recounted in the official “short, specific presentation of the personal battle feat or achievement”, so here we go:
Comrade Kolbasa is an example for the cavalry soldiers. In the battles for the city of Konigsberg, Comrade Kolbasa demonstrated inventiveness, bravery, and courage. On 04/06/45, he removed the cannon from under heavy enemy artillery fire. On 04/07/45, while moving his cannon, Comrade Kolbasa employed an tactical detouring manoeuvre which allowed him to go around the enemy firing positions and thus managed to capture 6 German large-calibre cannons. In the battles for Konigsberg, Comrade Kolbasa personally, with his own carbine, demolished 5 German soldiers.
For the bravery and courage demonstrated in the battles against the German invaders, he merits the Government Award of Order Glory 3rd degree.
OK, I’ll do my best. Dude captured six big Nazi cannons and “demolished” five people who couldn’t have deserved it more. He also “demolished” untold other retreating Germans, for which he obviously deserves further accolade:
The cavalry soldier in charge of 45-mm cannon, Guard Private Kolbasa Yakov Ivanovich, on the basis of the fact that on 06/23/44, in the area near the village of Osinstroy, engaged stealthy cannon fire from the firing position thus demolishing the retreating Germans and allowing free passage for the infantry.
Comrade Kolbasa deserves better than his portrayal by Injustice. At least the video game seems to have been justly-named.