TALLINN – Many Russians are horrified by the impact on their culture of Western rock music, foreign words, and even dolls like Barbie, and some of them are now calling for Moscow to take "effective measures" against what they see as a threat to the future of Russian society.
Last week, a group of Russian literary, religious and cultural officials met in Moscow to discuss how best to organize "the defense of Russian culture" against what its members view as the growing and for them totally unacceptable impact of globalization and Westernization.
In advance of that meeting, many of those who took part published extensive articles outlining their concerns and their hopes that the Russian government will come to the aid of Russian culture. Three of these articles are especially interesting reflections of how many Russians feel about the ways in which the culture of their country is changing.
In an essay posted on the Moscow Patriarchate’s missionary site, Vyacheslav Medushevskiy, a professor at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, argued that rock music is "a weapon of globalization" and is behind the demographic problems of the Russian Federation.
By glorifying hedonism and sex without love, Medushevskiy says, rock music has helped push up the number of abortions and push down the birth rate, forcing traditional cultures like Russia’s to "surrender" their demographic positions. Even more, he suggests, rock music is behind the ever more brutal behavior of people in other spheres as well.
In a second essay, this one published in „The Russian Federation Today,” Arnol’d Anuchkin-Timofeyev lashes out at the importation of words from English and other Western languages into Russian, something he says that more than one Russian in 20 believes is sufficient to destroy Russian culture.
He suggests that this linguistic imperialism has already captured many parts of Russian society. Cultural figures now speak of "perfomansys," "pop-art," "glamur," "di-dzheys," and "khits." Sports reports talk about "taim-auts," "khat-triks," and "blokshots." And television is filled with "killery," "trillery," and "tok-shou."
Meanwhile, Anuchkin-Timofeyev says, economists and administrators babble about "vauchery," "defolt," "f’yutchers," "ofshor," and "rieltor." City managers can’t avoid talking about "pentkhausy" and "akvaparki." Scientists, he says, now speak all the time about "nou-khou," "khai-teki," "granty" and "piloty proyekty."
And political figures and diplomats apparently cannot do without words as "konsensus," "sammit," "plyuralizm," "kosponsor," "implementatsiya," and "imidzhmeiyker." In fact, he continues, the influx of English via the electronic media has even affected the intonations some Russians give to their own words.
Such a situation is totally unacceptable, Anuchkin-Timofeyev says, because "our society needs not cosmopolitans but patriots." The Russian government recognizes this, he notes, having organized several councils to defend the language against this "invasion." But so far, these bodies have been largely inefficient.
Anuchkin-Timofeyev suggests that Russia should copy other countries which have sought to control the influx of foreign and especially English words, to make a clear judgement about the difference between useful borrowings and unwarranted intrusions. To that end, he concludes, it is time to take "measures" against those who violate Russia’s cultural heritage.
And in a third article, this one posted on the "Internet protiv Telekrana" portal, A. Bogatyrev warns against "the zombification" of Russian children by Western cartoons and television programs and especially Western dolls of various kinds.
Western cartoons are dangerous because they propagate a cult of violence, encouraging children to think that they can kill or even be killed and then return to fight again. But even more pernicious in Bogatyrev’s estimation are dolls. And he devotes much of his article to a discussion of what he sees as the noxious influence of Barbie dolls on Russian children.
In the past, most Russian girls played with baby dolls; something that he suggests encouraged their material instincts. But now with the influx of Barbie dolls, they don’t think about motherhood but rather about how to make themselves attractive but "useless" playthings for others. And because this threat is so serious, Bogatyrev says, the Russian government must do something about it.
Defending Russia against Barbie