As social media sites were flooded with a barrage of information (and disinformation) about Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, one woman’s passionate performance of a poem for the Russian president momentarily gripped Twitter’s attention.
“Dear Mister President Vladimir Putin,” began AnnaLynne McCord, a 34-year-old actor best known for her role in the 90210 reboot from 2008, “I’m so sorry I was not your mother.”
The video instantly went viral, with more than 23 million views in a single day.
“I know how I could easily have moved in the direction of becoming a dictator myself,” McCord told BuzzFeed News when asked about her reasons for writing the poem. “If certain circumstances of my life were different, were I a little less bent toward healing and more toward vindication, I could have been a darkly powerful person.”
For just over 2 minutes and 20 seconds in the video shared Thursday, McCord delivered rhyming verses about how she wishes she could have been the Russian leader’s mother because he would have “been so loved” that he wouldn’t resort to violence.
Since Putin authorized missile attacks and the invasion of troops in multiple Ukrainian cities, thousands of Russians are risking arrest to demonstrate against the invasion. Ukrainians are sheltering in subway stations and getting caught in traffic jams while trying to flee possible violence. People in countries around the world are protesting and showing their support for Ukraine.
And an American woman has posted a poem to Twitter. Here are the first 35 seconds of McCord’s video:
Dear President Vladimir Putin
I'm so sorry that I was not your mother
If I was your mother, you would have been so loved
Held in the arms of joyous light
Never would this story's plight
The world unfurled before our eyes
A pure demise
Of nation sitting peaceful under a night sky
If I was your mother
The world would have been warm
So much laughter and joy
And nothing would harm
I can't imagine the stain
The soul-stealing pain
That the little boy you must have seen and believed
Millions watched it, but what’s most interesting is the 34,000 replies and 96,000 quote tweets. People weren’t just drawn to watch the video — it moved them to respond.
At one point, McCord said she would have died for Putin if she were his mother, placing herself squarely in the middle of a conflict that people thought shouldn’t have involved her — an American soap opera actor. It was deemed typical “white woman” behavior and drew so many comparisons to the much-maligned, celebrity-packed “Imagine” video from 2020 that “Gal Gadot” began trending on Twitter.
At the end of the full video, which contains an additional minute of poetry and is only available through a Vimeo link that McCord has not yet shared to Twitter, she implores Putin to consider how a war could lead to more motherless children who grow up to be “cruel.”
The details of Putin’s early life are scarce. The official story in his biography claims he was raised by two older parents who died before he became president of Russia, but when Putin took office in 1999, a woman claimed that he was her child and said his father made her put him up for adoption.
McCord told BuzzFeed News that she was moved to share the poem after waking up “in anguish” over “the children of the war” — presumably the young Ukrainians who are experiencing missile attacks around them firsthand.
She said she feels for “children who grow into adults and become people who do historically horrifying things” because she personally understands “early life trauma.” In a 2017 TEDx Talk, she discussed the fact that she was raised in a trailer park and became independent from her parents at 15. She has alluded to other traumatic experiences from her childhood in various videos.
Though her poem is directed toward Putin himself, she said her mission is to raise awareness about the changes needed within “education systems” to “protect children and stop creating dictators and abusers and enslavers and rapists and bullies.” She suggested we add “nervous system regulation practice” as a “mandatory tool for young children” to stop the “pandemic of violence.”
McCord is the founder of the Love Storm, a self-described “global initiative raising awareness on human trafficking in an educational and empowering way.” The Love Storm’s main mission, according to its website, is “a mass meditation aimed at raising the collective energy against slavery of the mind and the body.”
A YouTube video on the website declares human trafficking to “modern-day slavery,” a common talking point among human rights organizations. It then transitions to footage of McCord giving a speech about how the “root” of human trafficking is the mind.
“There are 45.6 million slaves in the world. … I would say the number is 7 billion,” she said, referencing a statistic from a 2016 International Labor Office study, which dismisses victims of slavery, their descendants, and those impacted by systemic racism.
Further writing on the website declares slavery to be “a concept,” and that “clearing the mind” will lead to “the eradication of human trafficking.”
McCord shared a message to President Donald Trump in May 2020 on Twitter. Instead of a poem, she shared her thoughts on what she would have done following the killing of George Floyd if she were president.
She said she would have a conference with Derek Chauvin, the police officer who murdered Floyd, and apologize for the way his education and community failed to shape him properly.
It didn’t go viral at the time but has been viewed 250,000 times as her recent popular post has led users to dig into her past.
“Where did we go so wrong that you could put your knee on the neck of a fellow citizen and not take it off when he begged to be able to breathe?” she says in the video, which cuts off before she finishes her message. The full version is not available online.