Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thailand Cable TV: Russian TV

Hotels in the touristy areas feature cable channels in languages that many of their guests have in common. So you’ll find lots of Korean and Japanese channels, English of course (CNN, BBC, movies, TV series), I’ve seen Dutch TV (in Rayong), occasionally German, and last month I came across Russian TV (in Kanchanaburi).

The Russian TV was a mostly English language cable channel originating in Russia somewhere, Moscow I think. Many of the presenters were native English speakers, but the level of English ability of the on-the-scene correspondents was very high, great accents almost all the way around.

Much of it was Johnny-One-Note: the news cycle that day was a fire in a nightclub in Perm that killed about a hundred people. (Stage fireworks, the usual.) There were other subjects, though, and a lot of it was about America. The articles and shows about American government or foreign policy were a little bit on the skeptical side, worried about American hegemonistic practices, with a lot of world-weary oh, been there, done that, thrown in, particularly regarding Afghanistan. It wasn’t Cold War style hostility, but it wasn’t very positive either. One could expect that, I suppose.

Articles about American people, however, were unremittingly positive, remarkably so. There were man-in-the-street interviews from New York and other American cities, and the citizenry was presented as being diverse, informed, friendly and quite sensible. They could have spun this stuff any way they wanted to, and they chose a very good spin. Maybe the American military was viewed cynically, but individual soldiers were presented fairly and with gentle affection. It was a wonderful thing to behold.

I was reminded of the portrayal of individual Russians on American TV during the height of the cold war. Recall that it was very sympathetic and positive. Sitcoms sometimes had stories where a Russian in America for some reason would have an adventure with the stars of the show. Sure, there would be minders, apparatchiks who were cruel and officious, but the run-of-the-mill Russians themselves, musicians, athletes, scientists, were very likable and friendly. Many movies had these themes too, I’m thinking about “The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!” Mutual suspicion quickly turned to affection in that movie, and by the end, the citizens of the small town in Maine were helping the Russian submarine to escape the American military.

So maybe we can all get along.


Anonymous said...

If you need to ask who's in this video, feel free, but I don't think you'll need to ask.

fred c said...

Don't tell me! I know this one! He's half Ukranian!

(I was going to say: I recognize the bass player, but the guy's really old now, and I don't recognize the band.)