IN SOVIET RUSSIA, SCANDAL FABRICATES YOU

I once spent four days at a conference in Branson, Missouri. It is far from the worst place on Earth – being safe and having indoor plumbing puts it ahead of a lot of the globe – but it most definitely earns its status as a punchline. It looks like a giant dragon that craps chain restaurants rampaged through the town, narrowly missing the countless ex-celebrity entertainers whose careers have gone to Missouri to die. Among the latter, famously, is 1980s comic sensation Yakov Smirnoff. He doesn't simply have regular gigs there. He has his own theater.

Yakov, for those who don't remember him, made a career out of a single running gag: he was That Soviet Comedian. Nearly every joke followed the now-infamous pattern of "In America you have _____, but in Soviet Russia we had ______!" The only deviation was for the purpose of reinforcing American stereotypes about the USSR, i.e. "First time I went to Disneyland I saw Space Mountain. Big building with no windows, everyone inside screaming. I said 'Hey, we have one of those in Moscow!'" Moderately amusing, until you hear the next 50 jokes and realize that they're identical. But I digress.

Obviously he camps out in Branson because kids who are 20 and under today were born after 1990 and thus the Soviet Union means about as much to them as the Holy Roman Empire. They can't tell you what "communism" is aside from its status as the Bad Guys in action or war movies. Stalin, Brezhnev, perestroika, SALT, the Domino Theory…these terms mean nothing to them. Since Smirnoff's comedy depends entirely on stuff like this, his career can only survive if he finds audiences that remember it. Enter Branson, where the average age of vacationers is in the high sixties. All of them are old enough to remember the Cold War, and some of them are senile enough to think it's still going on.

Fox News has been taking notes of Yakov's success and has adopted its own Branson Strategy with its latest balls-out effort to fabricate a scandal: the "New Black Panthers" voter intimidation "story." I mean, how the hell old do one's viewers have to be before the Black Panthers are a relevant cultural reference? Even the USSR was relevant until 1991. The Black Panthers haven't fueled the paranoid fears of white people since the early 70s at best. When even the commenters at well-known conservative websites don't buy this pathetic effort to make something where there is nothing – OMG, two black guys were standing outside a polling place! Why, no, we can't produce a voter who claims to have been "intimidated" out of voting by said Colored Men! – you know the goal isn't to convince viewers on the merits of the case. It's an unsophisticated attempt to remind viewers for whom that group is relevant, i.e. your grandparents and anyone else over 70, that intimidating, heavily armed, and hostile black people are coming to take away Our Way of Life.

Even by Fox's standards, this "story" is ridiculous. Apparently they feel that enough old white people are watching to make an appeal to 1968 nostalgia worthwhile. I can't wait to see what throwback they dredge up next to connect with their demographic. Baader-Meinhoff? The Symbionese Liberation Army?** Sacco and Vanzetti? The Sans-Culottes? Among its many other assets as a media outlet, it appears that News Corp is making a much appreciated effort take viewers on a trip down memory lane in its comical attempt to engineer public opinion.

**(Keep an eye out for my SLA musical, "From Tania to Cinque", which should be in theaters near you soon)

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65 Responses to “IN SOVIET RUSSIA, SCANDAL FABRICATES YOU”

  1. Elle Says:

    and subsequently lose Grandma to the NICE equivalent

    What's wrong with NICE?

  2. bb in GA Says:

    Aslan:

    You are so damned intelligent that simplicity escapes you;

    If you don't understand the difference between appropriate behavior control (I treat you in a prescribed fashion) in a corporate setting and freakin' attempts at mind control and belief modification then…no mas.

    I realize that a hard time here is the "price of admission" for someone like me, but other than massaging your flesh, calling me names doesn't advance your argument with me (if you care).

    //bb

  3. Bob Hopeless Says:

    Just to let you know, I had to write a letter a while back to our local tabloid in re a column in which our local insane wingnut, a woman named Christine Flowers, complained about the DHS report on possible right wing terror activity in the U.S. The gist of her complaint? That there was no similar DHS report on left wing radical activity (indeed, there was) and that there were plenty of left wing terror organizations to worry about. Her examples included the Baader-Meinhoff gang and the Weather Underground. So what if these organizations haven't existed in 40 years and, in one case, never existed in the U.S.?

  4. Prudence Says:

    Aslan, correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the whole Doctors Plot thingummy was aimed squarely at Jews.

  5. ts46064 Says:

    "If you don't understand the difference between appropriate behavior control (I treat you in a prescribed fashion) in a corporate setting and freakin' attempts at mind control and belief modification then…no mas."

    MIND CONTROL!? That statement is strong evidence for my case that our country is fucked up, spoiled, and lacking of perspective.

    Diversity training=communist mind control
    Public Health= the Holocaust
    Taxes=FUCKING COMMUNISM!
    Any government program I don't use=FASCISM

    Fine BB, hold on to your fucking racist, homophobic, misogynistic, etc views, but don't complain when a company tries to educate their employees. Its in the companies interest to not have a bunch of fucking asshole working for them.

  6. Prudence Says:

    "Mind control"? BB, have you been staring at goats?

  7. Aslan Maskhadov Says:

    "You are so damned intelligent that simplicity escapes you;

    If you don't understand the difference between appropriate behavior control (I treat you in a prescribed fashion) in a corporate setting and freakin' attempts at mind control and belief modification then…no mas."

    Oh yes, DAMN intelligence!!! The thing is this IS simple. If this is an attempt at mind-control, it's a damn pathetic one. After all, it's not like we have a shortage of whiny white guys who are constantly upset about not being able to sexual harass women in the workplace or call people spics, niggers, and what -not. And they have PLENTY of media channels and venues to voice their phony victim fantasies.

  8. beau Says:

    @bb – "I realize that a hard time here is the "price of admission" for someone like me,"

    Welcome to life as part of a minority.

  9. bb in GA Says:

    Perfect example of word stuffing, Aslan.

    Why do you attribute vile motives to me (or my 'kind')? You have no idea how I treat others. You have no access to my check book and day timer.

    My daddy would kick my ass (if he were here) and my momma would positively haunt me (she promised to if I ever raised my hand to a woman [of any color]!) if I acted like you describe.

    Was I raised with bigot training? You bet, but I learned the evil that is outside of corporate America.

    Ah hell, why bother

    //bb

  10. Aslan Maskhadov Says:

    If you don't treat people that way then why are you so upset that others need to be reminded? And don't you realize that in the past, for a long time people DID act that way to minorities and women in the workplace, and so obviously some new rules had to be laid down.

    I suggest next time before whining about something like this, do some research into the history of table etiquette. The simplest rules today would make someone in the 18th century seem like a barbarian.

  11. bb in GA Says:

    Aslan:

    I'll certainly try to control my whine in the future. Thanks for all your help.

    //bb

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Jesus, people. Don't feed the troll. He's not a serious person, he doesn't deserve serious consideration, and you're wasting your time treating him as though he has any interest in doing anything other than poisoning the discussion.

    And if he were capable of doing anything besides whine, he would have done it by now. Let his sort secede again, if they have the balls, or emigrate, if they don't like it here – I believe that's what they spent eight years telling us to do.

  13. News Nag Says:

    "Gin and Tacos asks: "I mean, how the hell old do one's viewers have to be before the Black Panthers are a relevant cultural reference?" The short answer is that a racist, conscious or not, will reflexively reach out to any era in order to bolster the mental fantasy that keeps them feeling justified in their bigotry, and the more ignorant they are of history and "the other" the easier it is to do so. The longer anecdotal evidence follows:

    I know a late 20s man, a pleasant fellow, enjoyed many conversations with him on broad political/historical topics, who doesn't know he's a white nationalist, and that he is only "an event" away from being a white separatist, who loves the ginned-up New Black Panthers controversy. He's someone who feels personally and as a racial type threatened by someone of a different race speaking assertively up for their rights. I don't know why he feels this way but it's obvious he does. He seems to think, in a default zero-sum kind of way, that "they" are "overreaching" – if 'they' get theirs, then I won't get 'mine'. He also says he's partial to The Constitution Party (or whatever it's officially called), and is one of the cultural and political right-wing's success stories. Oh, and did I mention he was in Special Forces served very early in Afghanistan and in Sudan, etc., and still trains Special Forces recruits stateside for the military? Yeah, the future's bright, as in white phosphorus explosion plumes.