September 23, 2020

This time, the Russian revolution will be televised | TV

This time, the Russian revolution will be televised | TV

In October 2017 the call was lived Russia Content Revolution. It was in the most important audiovisual market on television, the MIPCOM in Cannes, in the year in which museums around the world remembered the centenary of the Russian Revolution. The country presented several series, including: the biography Trotsky and the adaptation of the novel trilogy Alexei Tolstoi Darkness and dawn. The objective was to open paths for a fiction virtually unknown outside of Eastern Europe. But, viewed with perspective (and viewed the series, both in the Netflix catalog), it can be intuited that this strategy not only sought commercial dividends but also, at least in part, politicians.

It is what is called soft power, soft power The term was coined by Joseph Nye in 1990, to define any action aimed at gaining influence in the geopolitical sphere supported not in the more direct coercion, but in ideas or in culture. Television is considered one of its most valuable tools: in the EU-STRAT report The Elements of Russia's Soft Power (2017) stressed the importance of the Russia Today channel for the international diffusion of a vision favorable to the government led by Vladimir Putin.

There are more and more authors who question the effects of a propaganda that comes in the form of news, as opposed to the more indirect (and subtle) character of the fiction. In a text published in 2017 in the academic journal Participations Professor of Northwestern University in Qatar Miriam Berg showed how viewing Turkish series favored a favorable view of the country (in the news usually due to the authoritarian drift of the Erdogan government) among Arab youth. Equally, It is difficult to separate the idealized vision that one has of the Danish democracy of the series Borgen.

So it seems justified to pay attention to the values ​​of soft power of Russian fiction. Both in Trotsky like in Darkness and dawn They claim the virtues of the Russian Revolution and leave criticism for the excesses committed later by Stalin. In the series in the past, the desire for a united Russia, and not only geographically, serves as a central motive for history. It is a visible motif in the abundant narratives about the Second World War, as in One Hundred Days of Freedom (2018), where an old man who returns from prison for counterrevolutionary activity joins the fight against the Nazi invasion. Another series presented by Russia in Cannes was The Golden Horde, dedicated to the efforts of Yaroslav II of Novgorod to expel the Mongols during the thirteenth century.

The long-standing leadership of Putin and his "strong man" style of exercising power in Russia have led to comparisons with Tsarism, as in the biography dedicated to him by the journalist of The New York Times Steven Lee Myers (The new tsar Ascent and reign of Vladimir Putin, Peninsula, 2018). Series as Ekaterina (2014-) and Godunov (2018), they can exploit the historical heritage sought by millions of visitors each year, but they also portray strong leadership in times of uncertainty. But the power in Putin's Russia can not be understood without a certain projection of masculinity and the exercise of violence. The Russian police series are full of aggressive but integral agents moved by a vision of justice. To this formula are assigned the local versions of international series as Life on Mars, Braquo Y Luther, but also original stories like the most recent Russian incorporation to the Netflix catalog, Sparta (2018), where Artyom Tkachenko plays a willing policeman to unravel the mystery after the suicide of a teacher at an elite center.

The next two major international Russian premieres, both presented a few months ago at the MIPCOM, delve into these types of characterizations: Trigger, about a psychologist expert in provocative therapy, and The Pretender, where a criminal is posing as the head of a criminal police brigade. Old characterizations for a new order.


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