Perhaps you could create a certain image of the Russian people from two main sources: 1) the well-known Hollywood movies 2) mass media (TV, radio, online news sites). However, in my opinion, at these sources Russian people are depicted very perverted and totally untrue.
The way a Hollywood film depicts Russia can turn a thriller into a comedy for the Russian viewer. Mangled Russian words, exaggerated and absurd Russian reality and people, as well as unverified or unreliable data certainly do not make American movies credible in the eyes of the Russian audience. To put it simply – Russian laugh when they look like Russian are portrayed in Hollywood films, because it’s so far from reality.
Several bright examples. Russian cosmonaut Lev Andropov (Peter Stormare), Armageddon, 1998, is a drunkard wearing a fur cap. When the Americans arrive, he has black-and-white pictures of his family hanging on the walls and he welcomes the Americans wearing a hat with ear-flaps and a T-shirt with a five-point star and the word “USSR” on it, while, naturally, drunk. The Americans are shocked.
What is true: Hah, they should have added a bear and a nesting doll! Russian people are the first people who have been in Space (Yuri Gagarin). At Russia a word “cosmonaut” – sounds very proudly, it is our national idea and history. To become an cosmonaut, you have to be only the most intelligent and strong.
There is still a stereotype that Russia stands for KGB and mafia.
Ivan Danko (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Red Heat, 1988 – is probably the most “comic” image of Russian officers and KGB. The movie became famous in Russia for its parody portrayals of regular Soviet policemen. A bus chase and Russian sauna are depicted as typical routines for Russian law enforcement. Danko’s partner is played by Russian actor Yury Ogarkov. The Terminator walking in Red Square in a Soviet police officer’s uniform still produces a comedic effect and is widely used in Internet memes.
What is true: neither in the Soviet Union nor in modern Russia was not and there are no police officers with “brains washed patriotic propaganda.” Basically, the police officers are ordinary people, now more and more often – a pleasant and trustworthy.
Russian engineer Ivan Vanko/Whiplash (Mickey Rourke), Iron Man 2, 2010 – becomes Tony Stark’s archenemy. The alias Crimson Dynamo reminds the viewer of the villain’s red Communist roots. To make Mickey Rourke look more like a Russian, make-up artists came up with metal teeth and prison tattoos.
What is true: Perhaps the Russian mafia exists somewhere, but we haven’t heard about it in Russia for a long time. Compared with 1990 the number of crimes in Russia decreased by 3 times, and there are no news about organized crime groups.
A Russian prostitute Veronika Voronina (Olga Kurylenko), Hitman, 2007 (according to screenwriters, there really is no other job for a woman in Russia) witnesses an assassination attempt on the president. She ends up as the girlfriend of the cold-blooded assassin codenamed Hitman. Kurylenko has a solid track record of playing the girlfriend of the lead male character – she performed this role with ease in Quantum of Solace and Max Payne.
What is true: Russian women – one of the “enviable” women in the world because of their its contradictory nature, persistence, friendliness, warmth and sense of humor. The character of a Russian woman is described by the following Russian saying: “She can stop a running horse; she can enter a burning house”. A woman in Russia is a strong and caring mother, who can do a man’s job and rarely asks for help.
So, to understand who Russians really are, turn off the Hollywood movies, and come to Russia and meet with ordinary people. You will be pleasantly surprised, I promise!
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