What Steven Seagal's position with Russia really means

In the U.S., Steven Seagal's star has been on the wane in recent years. As Vox tells us, the Aikido master-slash-actor has been in hot water for his Me Too accusations, and as your eyes will doubtlessly tell you, it's been a looooong time since he made a decent movie. Fortunately for Mr. Seagal and bafflingly for the rest of us, he has been doing significantly better on the Russian front. Seagal has been rubbing shoulders with one Vladimir Putin for a while now, and as Business Insider reports, strange stories about him on goodwill trips, slapping himself like madman in an attempt to participate in a traditional Chechen dance, started to emerge around 2013. According to the Spectatorthat same year Putin requested that President Barack Obama's government would make Seagal "an honorary consul of Russia in California and Arizona, with a view to being a key intermediary between Moscow and Washington." This request was promptly denied after a double take and a "You've got to be kidding us" moment, but as the BBC reports, Putin wasn't done with the hulking action star. On the contrary: Seagal was given a Russian citizenship in 2016, and in 2018, the actor was appointed the "special envoy to improve Russia's ties with the United States." 

The whole thing begs a number of questions — or rather, just three, which are "What?" "How?" and "Why?" screamed at a rising pitch and at random intervals. Is this just one of those strange situations like the whole thing between Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-Un, or could there be something more nefarious at play? 

Steven Seagal is an important ambassador of "low-brow culture"

It's probably fair to assume that Vladimir Putin and Steven Seagal didn't just really hit it off after randomly meeting at the gym one day. In fact, the Spectator believes that the whole thing might be a cynical ploy on Putin's part. The Russian president believes that "most culture is lowbrow and inauthentic," and diplomat Bruno Maçães has suggested he appears to largely hold on to power by keeping things as chaotic as possible — for instance, the Russian parliament is full of random celebrities. 

According to this line of thinking, Putin is merely continuing to embrace the chaos by recruiting an American action star who's pretty much the embodiment of "lowbrow and inauthentic." After all, we're living in a world where the President of the United States feeds athletes Big Macs in the White House — is special envoy Steven Seagal munching on carrots in Belarus really so much stranger?