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TV Review: Russian VS American TV

Yana Nadelyaeva

The following is a reaction to the New York Times article, “TV in Putin’s Russia: Jesters, Strivers and a Longing for Normalcy,” by Alessandra Stanley, which was published on February 13th, 2012.

This article caused mixed emotions, feelings and thoughts inside of me. I don’t like Alessandra Stanley’s presentation of information because it is quite negative and sarcastic, and it may cause readers to form an incorrect perception of Russian television and of what is happening in the country.

I am Russian and know the TV programs that air in Russia. Now, I live here in the U.S, and I am able to watch American television as well. I have a brilliant opportunity to compare both television standards and can truly say that there is much in common. Both in Russia and in the U.S.A, there are numerous purely entertaining and superficial TV shows. It’s also possible to find and watch serious programs, which pay attention some social problems and discuss crucial issues.

The whole article follows one idea: The point against Mr. Putin, Russia’s Prime Minister, “his long, complicated reign,” and how harmful it is for Russia. Well, it’s true that the political situation concerning Mr. Putin, his strategy, and administration is controversial, but not to such an extent as depicted in the article. Ms. Stanley writes, “Television over the last 10 years has mirrored the country’s economic recovery. State-controlled news deliberately spread Mr. Putin’s message of stability and prosperity at any cost. Entertainment subliminally echoed it.” Since the last decade, the economical and social situation in Russia has been changing for the better, and people are really more stable with their standards of living and higher levels of income.

Ms. Stanley suggests that “there’s plenty of humor on Russian television, though not much political satire; Mr. Putin put a stop to that long ago.” Well, I arrived in the U.S.A not too long ago and have had enough time to read newspapers and watch TV programs. I don’t notice a lot of political satire on American television either. Why, then, is it a trouble for Russia? Thanks to my studying, I had an opportunity to read a brilliant speech by Bill Moyers entitled, “Journalism Under Fire,” and to watch the interesting documentary, “Outfoxed”. I have concluded that in the U.S.A, as well as  in Russia and in many other countries all over the world, exists the so-called “secret rule of government.” There are numerous examples of when TV channels, newspapers, and other kinds of mass media work in cooperation with government in order to present the audience with only a one-sided view of political news while putting on the appearance of being objective. Why, then, does Ms. Stanley find it appropriate to call Russian television “jesters, bathos and bad taste?” As far as I can see, American television isn’t so far off from Russian television. The principles on which they are based are practically the same. Television of both countries can be called whimsical, superficial, and trifling.

Ms. Stanley presumes to give irrelevant, sarcastic conclusions and inappropriate, biased, and even humiliating remarks that Russia can still not be considered a “normal” country. I wonder two things: First, what does it mean to be “a normal country,” and does Ms. Stanley understand that using such word combinations can’t be called “politically correct.” By permitting herself to do so, she loses her prestige as a serious, objective and reliable journalist!

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