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The Hollywood USSR- Correcting the Misconceptions

Discuss culture, living, traveling, relocating, dating or anything related to Russia, Ukraine, or the former Soviet Republics.

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The Hollywood USSR- Correcting the Misconceptions

Postby ladislav » Sun Sep 23, 2007 1:55 am

If any Soviet person would ever watch Hollywood-made movies about the Cold War, he would be amazed at the following:

a) They had either Polish or Yugoslavian actors and the films were shot in Yugoslavia and other such places. They spoke Russian in them with English subtitles. Their Russian was so badly accented, a Russian speaker probably could not understand what they were saying for the most part. The Yugoslavian actors were dark compexioned- Russians look nothing like that. Doctor Zhivago with Omar Sharif playing a Russian was another funny thing. No Russian would have an Arab face like that.

A whole generation or two of Americans was brought up on these movies made by people who had never even been to that country and who spoke no local language. Therefore a Hollywood USSR was created. Consequently, the misconceptions that the directors of these movies had were transfered over to the entire US public. Here they are for the most part ( I have written the corrections underneath them so that when you go and visit your girl, you will impress her by not uttering any of those)

1) USSR=Russia. Soviet Union=Russia. All people in USSR are Russians.

This has been the biggest misconception. Even the most educated Americans made that mistake. You needed to be a PhDed Sovietologist in the Pentagon to know the difference.

Russia was just one of the 15 countries/republics that composed or were members USSR. Russians were in command but they were less than 50% of the USSR population. Outside of Russia there were these other republics( which were basically countries-the set up was very similar to the UK which consists of 4 countries- England, N. Ireland.Scotland and Wales, and Yugoslavia which consisted of five- Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Bosnia.)

Besides Russia there were these:

Ukraine
Belarus
Moldova
Uzbekistan
Kazakhstan
Turkmenistan
Kirghizstan
Tajikistan
Lithuania
Latvia
Estonia
Georgia
Azerbaijan
Armenia

The above were *not* parts of Russia. They were constituent republics of the Union * along* with Russia. They were non-independent countries, in fact, outside of the Russian Federative Republic. That is how they could declare independence and become normal countries. Chechnya, though was part of the Russian republic and that is why it has a hard time declaring independence and breaking away.

People from Armenia and Ukraine may have spent their entire lives without ever seeing a Russian. In Western Ukraine, a Russian may wonder into the wrong place and get himself killed just for being a Russian.

In the movie 2001 the Space Odessy" I heard the expression- "Russian citizens" but there was no Russian citizenship in the USSR- it was Soviet citizenship.

2) Russian names end in "sky- or "ski".

This is really weird and is another misconceptrion of the most severe kind. Yes, there was a Dostoyevsky and Chaikovsky but mostly it was noblemen that had names ending in "ski". Most Russian names end in "in" or "ov-ev". Yeltsin, Gorbachev, Putin, Romanov- where do you see the "ski"?

3) Russians use a "Russian" alphabet.
Well, yes, you can call it that way but it the correct name is Cyrillic Alphabet- it is not from Russia but is from Byzantium- I think somewhere in Macedonia- it was artificially created by some Byzantine monks to communicate with the Slavs. Bulgarian, Serbian, Macedonian and another 20 some languages use the Cyrillic. Yes, you can call it a Russian alphabet but it is just like calling the Roman alphabet-English Alphabet. Cyrillic alphabet is not from Russia.


4)All Russians are/were Communists/members of the Communist Party.

Actually, most were not. Only about 3% of the country were members of the CPSU- Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

5) There are European Russians and there are Asian Russians.

If you are Asian, you are not a Russian. You are just a citizen of the country but you are not ethnically Russian. Various Eskimo groups in Siberia are simply non-Russians. It is not like the USA where you can hyphenate people, There, either you are a European-looking man with a Russian name and you speak Russian, or you are not Russian. There is no Asian Russian, just like there is no feline dog. Or a pink panther. If it is pink, it is not a panther.

6) There are White Russians and there are *Black Russians/Asian Russians, etc*. ( Yup, I have heard that one in the USA). Again, it is another projection- because that is how things are in the USA, well, then things must be that way in other countries, too.

The term "White Russian" refers to the Civil War of 1918-1920 where there were the Reds- the Communists and the "Whites"- the monarchists. Probably had to do with the colors of the pawns in the game of checkers. When the defeated Whites arrived in SF, Americans asked them- "What Russian are you, are you a Commie? "No, we are Whites". The Americans probably interpreted it as 'White American" meaning non-Black.

Another misguided translation is that of BelaRus which means "White Rus" -it is a country East of Poland. Rus means a Scandinavian tribe/settlement thereof- the word for Swedes is Ruotsi in Finninsh- hence- Rus. Again, it has to do with a place where these Scandinavians settled and the place became known as Rus. The white thing- Bela- has to do either with the color of the soil or too much snow. Again the American projection would be to immediately transfer this to a skin color. Well, if these are White Russians , the rest must be Blacks or Dark/Hispanic. This is how the American mind works, I guess.

In Ukraine there are two camps- the Orange- for Yuschenko and the Blue, for Yanukovich- it means that there are Orange Ukrainians and Blue Ukrainians. But obvioulsy, it does not mean that these are names of races.

7) Russians hate (ed) Americans.

Actually, the traditional Russian hatred was always against Germany and Germans. Not against Americans. The USSR government always taught that American people were good but oppressed by a bad government. Germans on the other hand have always been enemies and both the people and the government were bad.

From my understanding, people in the US were taught to hate " the Russians" and never was there a distinction between the government and the people. All Russians were bad- such was the propaganda during the Cold War. Again, the projection- they must be the same , too.

So, Americans are mostly well-treated in Russia- this is why most Americans are surprised when they visit there. People treat them very well. Why? We hated their guts and they did not hate our guts?

A German or anyone with German blood, though, will not be liked by most anyone. The hatred runs deep. If you are an American of German descent, it may be wise not to advertise it too wide.

If given a chance, most Russians would leave their country in droves and come to the US.

That is baloney. Most people love their country the same way Americans love America. Do you see Americans lining up in front of the Luxembourg, Swiss, Bruneian and Kuwaiti consulates? There is more money there.

Governments and educational departments of every country teach their citizens patriotism and love for the Motherland. To a Russian, leaving one's country and going to live overeseas is equivalent to High Treason. Plus, why would he go to a country whose language he cannot speak?

9) Russia is cold all year around.

Russia has very hot summers and quite well pronounced springs and autumns. It has four seasons just like most other places in Europe.

10) All Russians speak English but roll their "rs" and use the word " comrade" to each other.

Most people in Russia do not speak English and most do not use the word "comrade". The word they used during the Communist times was "tovarishch" and that means kind of like best friend or "pal" or "buddy". The word for comrade is "soratnik"-and that is used only by military people. "Comrade" is another Hollywood invention.

11) Russians are all blonds/ or Russian are all dark-haired.

I think in the thaws during the Cold War, Russians were portrayed as fair heaired, blond people. When things would get bad, for some reason, in the US movies they would look dark, kind of like Greeks or Turks.

In reality, most Russians look kind of like the Irish- with light brown/dirty blond hair. The faces are a bit more round and the noses are of the "pug" variety. Eyes are mostly grey or blue. If people in Russia are really dark, they are usually not Russians ethnically- mostly Armenians or Jews.

12) Russia is an Asiatic/Asian country.

Truman called Russians "a bunch of Asiatics". I have heard this one more tha once and even read it in the American books on travel to Russia. I do not know what Asiatic means, but if most Russians travel in Asia- i.e, HK, Japan, Korea, Philippines, people usually ask them " What state in the US are you from?" and talk to them in English. Kids start screaming " Americano! Americano!.

Probably the people who wrote the books confused the onion tops of Orthodox churches with Taj Mahal. And they looked at the map and saw Siberia with the word "Russia" written all over it, and concluded that it was in Asia. The CIA World book now lists Russia in Asia. Check out if when you bring your blond blue eyed wife with you to the US, maybe you can enroll her in the local Asian American as.sociation and get some help- grants, affirmative action, etc. Bring the CIA world book with you to prove your point. Would be a nice joke and an unprecedented legal case before the US supreme court- Maria Ivanova vs. John Wong and Asian American as.sociation- refusal to admit an "Asian" into the American Asian as.sociation.

Actually, Russia is a European country that happens to own Siberia which is in Asia. Most people live in the European part and most people in Siberai are also of European stock. Most average Russians look Slavic just like people in Serbia or Croatia.

Conclusion:

Most US books on Russia or USSR, and such novels, and movies were written by people who had never been to the country and do not speak Russian or any other local languages. Think about how good would be a book or a movie about America by someone who does not speak English and who has never been to the US.
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Postby gmm567 » Sun Sep 23, 2007 2:19 am

Say have you read that new book by Alexander Solhezinetzin? ( I know the spelling is bad).

YOU CAN'T GET THAT BOOK IN ENGLISH! I'D LOVE TO READ THAT BOOK.

DAMN IT'S CENSORSHIP.
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Postby ladislav » Sun Sep 23, 2007 2:20 am

What book?
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Postby gmm567 » Sun Sep 23, 2007 2:29 am

I am not sure the name of it. It's his account of Russian Communism.
It's his effort at documenting the history of communism in Russia from 1918 to the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

YOU CAN'T GET THAT BOOK IN ENGLISH.

It's been out for 4 years or so. You can buy it in Russian, but there has been no translation into english, and here he is a nobel prize winning author. It's very, very strange!
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Postby ladislav » Sun Sep 23, 2007 2:35 am

200 Years Together?

The Russian Question?
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Postby gmm567 » Sun Sep 23, 2007 2:56 am

I think maybe it's 200 years..I am not sure.

He wrote another book on The Russian Question? That sounds like it was probably something about ethnic minorities in the new Russia?
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Re: The Hollywood USSR- Correcting the Misconceptions

Postby The_Adventurer » Sun Sep 23, 2007 3:27 am

ladislav wrote:Another misguided translation is that of BelaRus which means "White Rus" -it is a country East of Poland. Rus means a Scandinavian tribe/settlement thereof- the word for Swedes is Ruotsi in Finninsh- hence- Rus. Again, it has to do with a place where these Scandinavians settled and the place became known as Rus. The white thing- Bela- has to do either with the color of the soil or too much snow. Again the American projection would be to immediately transfer this to a skin color. Well, if these are White Russians , the rest must be Blacks or Dark/Hispanic. This is how the American mind works, I guess.


I think the American mind can easily work the opposite if it fits the agenda. Egypt (a greek name) was traditionally called Kemet or Kamut and the Sudan called Cush or Kush. Both meant black or black lands. Many modern egyptologists say this referred to the color of the soil. I personally have never seen or heard of black soil in the sahara, nile region or anywhere else in the area, but there has always been plenty of black people there. Modern Egyptologists are often against the idea of a black Egypt.

I think you are right when you say, "... the American projection would be to immediately transfer this to a skin color," but they will quickly reverse the projection if it leads to an unacceptable conclusion.
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Postby ladislav » Sun Sep 23, 2007 3:29 am

A brain is a terrible thing to wash!
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Re: The Hollywood USSR- Correcting the Misconceptions

Postby ladislav » Sun Sep 23, 2007 3:36 am

Terrence wrote:
ladislav wrote:Another misguided translation is that of BelaRus which means "White Rus" -it is a country East of Poland. Rus means a Scandinavian tribe/settlement thereof- the word for Swedes is Ruotsi in Finninsh- hence- Rus. Again, it has to do with a place where these Scandinavians settled and the place became known as Rus. The white thing- Bela- has to do either with the color of the soil or too much snow. Again the American projection would be to immediately transfer this to a skin color. Well, if these are White Russians , the rest must be Blacks or Dark/Hispanic. This is how the American mind works, I guess.


I think the American mind can easily work the opposite if it fits the agenda. Egypt (a greek name) was traditionally called Kemet or Kamut and the Sudan called Cush or Kush. Both meant black or black lands. Many modern egyptologists say this referred to the color of the soil. I personally have never seen or heard of black soil in the sahara, nile region or anywhere else in the area, but there has always been plenty of black people there. Modern Egyptologists are often against the idea of a black Egypt.

I think you are right when you say, "... the American projection would be to immediately transfer this to a skin color," but they will quickly reverse the projection if it leads to an unacceptable conclusion.


Very good points.
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Re: The Hollywood USSR- Correcting the Misconceptions

Postby The_Adventurer » Sun Sep 23, 2007 3:58 am

ladislav wrote:Probably the people who wrote the books confused the onion tops of Orthodox churches with Taj Mahal. And they looked at the map and saw Siberia with the word "Russia" written all over it, and concluded that it was in Asia. The CIA World book now lists Russia in Asia. Check out if when you bring your blond blue eyed wife with you to the US, maybe you can enroll her in the local Asian American as.sociation and get some help- grants, affirmative action, etc. Bring the CIA world book with you to prove your point. Would be a nice joke and an unprecedented legal case before the US supreme court- Maria Ivanova vs. John Wong and Asian American as.sociation- refusal to admit an "Asian" into the American Asian as.sociation.


I've always been skeptical of the term "Asian". I just saw the Miss Asia pageant on TV here in California and a 6 foot tall blonde from the Ukraine almost won it. I think she would have had she come up with a better answer to her final question. In the end I think Miss Viet Nam won but technically Ukraine, Afghanistan, Kyrgyztan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Saudi Arabia and more are in Asia as continents go.

Now most immediately think of Saudi Arabia as being in The Middle East. This is true. It is "in the Middle East, a recognized geographical region of southwestern Asia."
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Postby ladislav » Sun Sep 23, 2007 6:55 am

Ukraine is in Europe. I have no idea why they competed in an Asian beauty contest. It would be interesting to see a link.

Here is a Ukraine street scene:

Does it look like Asia to you?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dreizackreisen/1017192106/

and here is a city view.

http://community.iexplore.com/photos/jo ... norama.jpg

Here are the boundaries of Europe according to Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Euro ... ntries.svg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... Europe.png

As you can see, a part of Kazakhstan is in Europe, too. And so are most Russian cities.

If you find me a map that puts Ukraine in Asia, I will be off to the nearest Asian American Association to ask for some special privileges.
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