Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Russians Are Here. Again.

If you were to open the New York Times home page yesterday, your screen would suddenly shift to this:

Then, you would be treated to another image with lots of links:

It's been a long time coming. The ads and trailers for the new spy show set in the early 80's have been all over the place for months, and the big day of Episode 1 was yesterday. CNN seems to have liked it, while The Nation humbly noted that "'implausible' is too generous a word" to characterize the show. Since I don't have a TV and am actively trying to avoid watching it, I cannot truly speak of the quality or the entertainment value of the episode.

And yet, given my obsession with the subject, I couldn't resist the urge to bring this up on Global Chaos. Just like the SALT movie some two years ago, this show relies on the ever-present fear of sleeper cells and spooks deep under cover, who are constantly plotting to bring down the US, while living among unsuspecting and innocent Americans. Mix in some old footage, lots of red, faded posters, and some Communist symbols, and it makes for a great story!

Hmmm... Maybe?

(Plus, all the black mixed in with the red and the logo itself are more reminiscent of the Third Reich, than the Soviet Union. But that's beyond the point.)

What bothers me, is that popular culture on this side of the Atlantic still goes back to those stereotypes and outdated fears, that this is still an issue, and that it still sells. Seriously now. The Soviet Union stopped being a threat 22 years ago (dare I remind you of that?), and although Russia is not the amicable friend of the 90's anymore, it is far from being the evil empire The Great Reagan so courageously brought down.

You might say, what of the recent revelations of plain-clothed Russian spooks (as if they ever come wearing a special badge or something)? Yes, the Russian intelligence seekers might still be around. But so are many others. Plus, playing on fears and suspicions for profit seems to be a little tasteless. I'm glad, at least, it wasn't yet another show about an unnamed evil Islamic terrorist network. Doesn't mean they have to turn on the Russians. Or anyone else, for that matter.

At a time when people would rather get their history and geography lessons and (not so recent) news from Hollywood and TV shows, "The Americans" will inevitably become much more than a mere work of fiction or entertainment.

But I guess it would be a little too much to expect FX to be concerned about American paranoia, international affairs, or Russian public diplomacy, for that matter (it was just a couple of days ago that I had brought this up...). The best one can hope for is that people don't make up a fictional world around them after watching this.

Meanwhile, I'll just wait for it to come out on Netflix... :-)

UPDATE [02.01.12]: I just saw another "interesting" marketing attempt by FX. Soviets can still -- apparently -- "invade" the Times Square.



  1. I'm not exactly a Sovietologist, but methinks the Soviets look mighty Nazi-like in all these ads...some screen/ad-writers confusing their totalitarianisms?

  2. haha! As if in the popular mind it ever really mattered what the difference is... :)