Puppets no plaything in Syria’s online satire ‘Top Goon’


Screen grab of "Top Goon: Diaries of a Little Dictator".


Puppets are usually considered to be a children’s plaything, a mere toy. Yet a handful of Syrian artists and filmmakers Syria have turned this idea on its head with an online show that uses hand puppets to satirise President Bashar al Assad and his inner circle amidst an ongoing brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.


First created in November 2011, “Top Goon: Diaries of a Little Dictator” has since become a major hit with Syria’s Internet community, and has even gone on to win an award at the American Islamic Congress’ Cairo Human Rights Film Festival last December.


The cast of characters includes Assad, nicknamed “Beeshu” for short, the Rose of Damascus, the Peaceful Protester, and Shabih, Assad’s manipulative, evil, military sidekick. The word Shabih generally refers to an armed supporter of Syria’s regime.


Beeshu, as his name and the series’ title suggests, epitomises the absurd as a blundering, overly-sensitive yet single-minded buffoon. In the first episode, entitled “Beeshu’s Nightmares”, Assad awakes terrified from a restless sleep after dreaming that his regime had been toppled. Shabih appears at his side and tries to soothe him. Tucking Beeshu back into bed, he softly sings “I will kill all of the people of Syria” as the president falls back to sleep.


Video posted on YouTube by MasasitMati.


Laced with biting humour, each episode looks at Beeshu as he struggles to repress opposition protests while despairing over the fact he is no longer his country’s most beloved figure. One show even follows the embattled president as he competes with Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi for killing the most people in a game show called “Who wants to kill a million?”