Across the eras the idea of Russia as a spiritually freer, less rule-bound alternative to western society has prevailed.
A young man in a wifebeater and bandana wields an AK47 in his right hand and a vacuum cleaner in his left.
In the attention marketplace of the internet aggregator, novel ranks high on the list of virtues, alongside simple, sexy and feline.
An inability to read Russian means you can turn a blind eye to existing explanations, and to the actual origin of most images — many pictures in the dating selection had nothing to do with online romance at all. The polarities of the Cold War era, when Russia was constructed as the opposite of the dominant American culture, are now over. This image is also, of course, eagerly promoted and exploited by Russians looking to emphasise their spiritual exceptionalism. The internet’s penchant for mix-and-matching evil tyrant stories with freewheeling freakshows also feels like a return to pre-Soviet models. To rescue its online reputation, therefore, Russia needs a collection of YouTube-era Dostoevskys and Gogols, native Russians who can keep in all the trademark crazy that westerners love, but inject it with homegrown genius and rational, intellectual brilliance.
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