Saturday, 4 September 2010

On ushankas, balalaikas and international ignorance

You know, when I first left my motherland, it struck me how much people's ideas about Russia are ruled by Hollywood stereotypes (bears in ushankas drinking vodka on a Red Square accompanying themselves with balalaikas and garmoshkas — did I miss anything?). Bit later I realised this isn't only Hollywood — e.g. episode 6, Skins, first season when they go to some god-forgotten Moldavian village and declare it to be a "real Russia". Now I'll briefly go through this episode to smash all the high hopes of directors:

  1. Unless these guys has landed in a military airport (and I highly doubt that), they wouldn't be warmly meet by soldiers with AK-47s (which are not in use anymore, well, except maybe in Moldova)

  2. Airport security guards tend not to wear a full set of "Red Banner" orders (which were mostly given during Second World War, and usually for something truly exceptional; and yes, it's exclusively military).

  3. A "Motherland calls" banner which was hugely popular, right, in 1941-1945, is ... let's say – not that much in use anymore. For the last 50 years, that is.

  4. Soldiers are wearing a mixture of 40s and 00s uniform.

  5. The old GAZ truck they've been driven in, hasn't been in use for at least 30 years. I'm actually quite surprised they found a working one, that alone is an achievement!

  6. ... the list can go on and on and on and on without even touching our favorite stereotypes (ushankas-vodka-pretty girls with long hair ... wait, leave the last one, right. For a change, that's mostly true).

  7. And for fucks sake, it's fucking Moldova, not Russia! (that may actually explain quite a few things – there's a war there, you know...)

So did we finish with Skins? Can go on with my rant? No, not really.

One thing I started realizing mostly recently is that any people tend to be ignorant about any foreign culture. As I live in London, people often ask me questions about Britain. Now forgive me if I won't list them here — being not natively British, I don't feel like I have a right to exercise my wit and pretend to be humorous about it. No, it's funny, really, just not in that way (and even less will I pin-point where were most of these people who did ask me these questions, however mostly they had very funny accent).

Is it good? Is it bad? Well, that's the way it is. No morals here, make your own conclusions and I'll go back to my Skins (stop laughing I told you!!) and to my Z├╝rich-London flight, which due in ... oh my, less than an hour! I think I should be moving now!