7 WTF Acts Of Madness Committed By History's Worst Dictators
This might seem strange to anyone living in America in 2017, but the most powerful people in the world can sometimes be total goonball assclowns. They say that absolute power corrupts absolutely, but they rarely mention that it can also give you some really freaking bizarre hobbies -- or perhaps it's the other way around. It turns out your weird co-worker who collects erotic pony sculptures might be one coup away from being the next Kim Jong-un.
Stalin Vandalized Art With Totally Inexplicable Jokes
It's hard work being a dictator, and Joe Stalin was no slouch. The Soviet leader hatched a plan to send some 6,000 of his countrymen to Cannibal Island (every bit as bad as it sounds), oversaw the mass execution of blind Ukrainian folk musicians, and spent considerable time and energy executing scientists who wouldn't agree that plants are communist. That level of diabolical masterminding left Stalin in need of a brain break, and nothing relaxes an overworked world leader like writing dirty captions on famous nudes, natch.
He may have been Time's Man of the Year, but what he really wanted was to win Playboy's caption contest.
The artwork itself is by Vasily Surikov and Valentin Serov, famous 19th-century Russian painters, but the additions are all Stalin's, right down to his authenticated signatures. His captions, while juvenile, did demonstrate his deep commitment to communism -- like this picture, where he tells this naked man, "You need to work and not masturbate."
There's a whole chapter about that in Marx's Capital.
On the other hand, Stalin seems to be encouraging this nudist to commit a sexual assault when he writes, "You idiot. Have you completely forgotten what to do?"
Grandpa doesn't need to take advantage of unconscious women with abs like that.
Sometimes, his advice was more constructive. Like on this drawing, where he added, "Don't sit with a bare ass on stones. Give the boy some pants."
His pants were seized by the state.
Other naked drawings reminded Stalin of fellow Soviet officials, and let's not read too much into that. One was adorned with the words "Ginger bastard Radek," in reference to Karl Radek, who helped draft the Soviet constitution before Stalin had him murdered. Another time, he drew an inverted triangle over a nude man's junk and wrote: "Why are you so thin, Mikhail Ivanovich? Do some work. Onanism is no work. Try Marxism! Hehe! J. Stalin."
Experts believe Stalin wrote the comments toward the end of his life, and that they reveal both loneliness and isolation. That's what happens when you kill everyone you know, dude.
If Stalin was alive today, he'd be a commenter on Amy Schumer's Instagram.
Muammar Gaddafi Made Condoleezza Rice An Erotically Charged Music Video
Despite leaving a third of Libya's population with lasting mental health issues, "Colonel" Muammar Gaddafi also managed to keep a rather steady stream of well-known celebrities at his beck and call. Even when you're a total turd, your blood money is still mostly green. There was one famous American whom Gaddafi wanted as more than a friend, though: George W. Bush's Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
That band is strategically positioned to obscure his boner.
Calling her "my darling black African woman," Gaddafi pined for Rice like an overly hormonal teenager, saying in a 2007 interview, "Leezza, Leezza, Leezza ... I love her very much. I admire her, and I'm proud of her, because she's a black woman of African origin." It seems he also found the way she did her work pretty bonerrific, particularly how "she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders ... and they come to her, either in groups or individually." OK, this guy definitely had a fanfiction.net account.
When Rice paid a diplomatic visit to Gaddafi in 2008, he was only too eager to put his money where he wished his mouth was. According to the Bush administration's list of official gifts, he presented Rice with a diamond ring, a DVD "with musical instrument," and a locket containing his photograph, which we can only assume was the most flattering dick shot he could muster up. The estimated total value of the gifts was $212,225, so that DVD must have been awesome.
"Thanks for the ring. What's that guy dressed as a priest saying?"
"Don't worry about it."
In her memoir, Rice relates how, during that same visit, Gaddafi insisted that she join him for dinner in his private kitchen before showing her a (gulp) videotape he'd made. The video featured photos of Rice interacting with foreign leaders, set to an original song titled "Black Flower In The White House" (which sounds like it could be either country or gangsta rap). After Gaddafi's death, rebel soldiers who raided his compound found a photo album filled with pictures of "Leezza," presumably right next to a large box of tissues and a jug of lube.
Ceausescu Literally Burned Through A New Suit Every Day To Avoid Poisoning
We've already introduced you to Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu's particular brand of crazy, like making himself a scepter and getting people to hate America by making them watch Dallas. Like most rulers who shit on their countrymen for decades, Ceausescu lived in constant fear of being overthrown or assassinated. Desperate to avoid running afoul of anyone as awful as himself, he began to obsess over his personal security with a passion he usually reserved for mercilessly X-raying dissidents so they'd get cancer.
And Dallas, too. That piece of shit of loved his Dallas.
Concerned that he might be poisoned by osmosis via substances put into the fabric of his clothes, Ceausescu began wearing a different suit every day and burning his clothes and shoes after a single wearing. Prior to being worn, each article of clothing was stored in a clear plastic bag and "sealed with high frequency electrical equipment." Once removed, clothing was stamped with colored ink and sent to the incinerator, leaving Ceausescu in a perpetual state of breaking in new shoes. His staff kept a 365-day supply of suits and shoes on hand, each article hermetically sealed and stored inside a climate-controlled warehouse. Had they missed a single day, Ceausescu would have presumably ruled the country like this:
Shit, let's not give our guy any ideas.
Ceausescu's paranoia wasn't limited to clothing. While traveling, he brought his own food (even condiments), which were kept in a cooler under armed guard. During his visits to the United States, Ceausescu's staff cleaned and disinfected Blair House prior to his arrival, replacing linens and pillows with ones brought from Romania and installing radiation detectors. In short, the only thing crazier than the stuff Ceausescu did were the things he imagined others wanted to do to him. His fears were at least somewhat justified, as he was overthrown and killed in 1989, but we're betting his staff wanted to strangle him long before that.
Than Shwe Abruptly Moved Myanmar's Capital To The Middle Of Fucking Nowhere
To be a proper supervillain, you need an evil lair. Than Shwe, Myanmar's former president, appreciated this and took the appropriate steps, to the dismay of everyone but himself. See, where Shwe excelled in vision, he sucked ass at practical execution -- but when you're an evil dictator, you're a dreamer, not a planner, dammit.
His half-assed brainchild even looks like someone shrugging.
Until fairly recently, Myanmar's capital was Rangoon, the country's largest city and a bustling commercial center. This was working well for everyone, right up until November 6, 2005, at exactly 6:37 a.m., at which time Shwe uprooted the capital and relocated it to a spot in the jungle 200 miles away. At precisely that moment, a steady stream of convoys began traversing the barely passable roads, hauling government officials and office equipment to what would become Naypyidaw, Myanmar's new capital. There wasn't power or running water, but hey, minor details. Foreign diplomats in Rangoon were notified the following day, and were reportedly told, "You can communicate with the Myanmar government by letter. If you have an urgent matter, you can send a letter by fax."
"Welcome to the jungle, we've got nothing whatsoever."
What was the reason for packing the government up and moving it to parts unknown? The official explanation is that Rangoon had become too crowded, but many believe Shwe feared an invasion due to the city's proximity to the coast. A commonly accepted explanation in Myanmar, however, is that he moved everything based on advice from government astrologers, who said he would be overthrown if he remained where he was. They even gave him the most auspicious time (down to the very second) to make the move, presumably coinciding with the day the chief astrologer's child support payment was due.
Over time, Naypiydaw has gained some of the necessary infrastructure, but population levels still leave a lot to be desired. At least that crowding thing is taken care of.
Heavy traffic through downtown.
Mugabe Won't Stop Sending Zoo Animals To Their Doom
Much like with Elvis and Cadillacs, if you're friends with Zimbabwean autocrat Robert Mugabe, you're getting a zoo animal, and to hell with whether you want one or not.
See, when you're a ruthless dictator, your peer group is relatively small. Therefore, it's extremely important to stay on good terms with the others by giving gifts and participating in some mutual ego-stroking. With Zimbabwe's economy circling the drain, Mugabe needed a way to make a grand gesture on the cheap, so he did what any level-headed, practical person would do: He rounded up a bunch of animals from a national park and shipped them to his friends.
Has the statute of limitations expired on We Bought A Zoo jokes yet?
Mugabe's most recent gift (and the largest by far) was a "Noah's Ark" of animals sent to North Korea's Kim Jong-il in 2010. Drawing criticism from animal rights groups and anyone with a common sense, the ark contained pairs of various animals, including giraffes, zebras, and 18-month old baby elephants that were too young to leave their mothers. Despite warnings that the elephants faced almost certain death, Mugabe continued with the plan, presumably because he was one of the many traumatized by Dumbo's acid trip as a child. Supporting that theory is the fact that Mugabe ate baby elephant for his 91st birthday.
The surviving elephant is now North Korea's secretary of agriculture.
This alone would be a tragic event, but remember that the Crazy Dictator's Zoo Starter Kit is Mugabe's favorite gift. In the 1980s, he sent two endangered rhinos to North Korea, where they died a few months later. Clearly not one to learn from his mistakes, he sent two other rhinos to what was then Yugoslavia, where they soon died tragically, if not unpredictably. By now, he's just using zoo animals as currency, paying China for a military debt by sending them 35 elephants, eight lions, 12 hyenas, and a lone giraffe which he presumably found in his fridge.
Enver Hoxha Banned All Films ... Except Those With An Obscure British Comedian
We've already told you what a great guy Enver Hoxha wasn't, and how he made Albania a country nobody but Voldemort wanted to visit. Among his memorable and half-baked ideas were banning beards and typewriters, and covering much-needed farmland with some 750,000 random bunkers. You never know when evil beard-wearing, typewriter-owning invaders are going to strike.
Equipped with anti-typewriter guns and beard-proof walls.
Hoxha also banned all Western television shows and movies, lest the Albanian people realize places existed that weren't depressing shitholes. The single exception to this ban were the films of British comedian Norman Wisdom, that guy who ... OK, yeah, we haven't heard of him either. Our research indicates that he was basically a cross between Jerry Lewis and the guy from the Ernest movies (for our younger readers: someone who falls down a lot).
He even looks like Jim Varney -- though ironically, with better teeth.
How did that guy of all people pass muster with a killjoy like Hoxha? Apparently, he saw Wisdom's working-class characters and their conflicts with the social elite as a statement against capitalism and a "communist parable on the class war." It's too bad Hoxha never saw those shorts about the squirrel from Ice Age chasing an acorn; they would have blown his fucking brain completely wide open and convinced him to switch to capitalism.
Regardless of Hoxha's reasons, he catapulted Wisdom to cult legend status in Albania, where he remained "their most beloved entertainer" until his death in 2010. What did the comedian himself think of Albania's affection for his work? Said Norman, "They must be raving mad."
Castro Was Obsessed With Breeding A Super Cow
We're confident in saying that no one will ever love milkshakes as much as Fidel Castro did. Despite knowing that keeping a regular schedule isn't a good idea when there are people actively trying to assassinate you, Castro refused to miss his daily date with a milkshake in the bar of his Havana hotel. The closest the CIA ever got to killing him was poisoning his chocolate milkshake, but even that didn't seem to dampen his ardor for all things milk-related.
Nothing more anti-American than a burger, fries, and milkshake.
Milkshakes might have been Castro's gateway drug, but he sure as hell didn't stop there. First, he became obsessed with out-cheesing the French. In 1964, he tried to foist his "Cuban Camembert" on a visiting French diplomat, ask-telling him to eat some and repeatedly trying to get him to agree that it was better than whatever crap they had in France. Giving Castro what we assume was the most epic side-eye in history, the Frenchman suggested there was a reason Cuba was known for cigars and not cheese.
Since he couldn't achieve total cheese domination, Castro decided he'd settle for the next-best thing: producing more varieties of ice cream than the United States did. After ordering 28 cartons of Howard Johnson's so he could taste each flavor, he decided that Cuba needed its own piece of the ice cream action. How would he accomplish this? Easy: He called his secretary and informed her that she now ran an ice cream parlor.
Serious challenge: Try to find a dairy product Fidel Castro hasn't been photographed eating.
Though the ice cream business was a great success, Castro still hadn't reached the peak of his milk obsession. Realizing that quality cheese and quality ice cream both depended on quality milk, he set about revolutionizing the Cuban dairy industry by breeding a race of super cows. He imported thousands of Holsteins from Canada ... but almost a third of them died off within weeks due to the climate and insufficient nutrition. Undeterred, he attempted to cross-breed the Holsteins with native cows, which is how he finally found the love of his life: Ubre Blanca.
Meaning "White Udder" in Spanish, Ubre Blanca made the Guinness Book Of World Records for "the highest milk yield by a cow in one day -- 110 litres (29 U.S. gallons)." When she died in 1985, her body was stuffed and put on display at the National Cattle Health Center as a permanent monument to Castro's milk obsession, and a reminder that sometimes even insane dictators want milk with their kooky.
"Suck it, Lenin."
Behind every awful movie is the idea for a good one. Old man Indiana Jones discovers aliens: Good in theory, bad in practice. Batman fights Superman: So simple, but so bad. Are there good versions of these movies hidden within the stinking turds that saw the light of day? Jack O'Brien hosts Soren Bowie, Daniel O'Brien, and Katie Willert of After Hours on our next live podcast to find an answer, as they discuss their ideal versions of flops, reboots, and remakes. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased here!
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