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Remember this tv commercial? How about this one? If you grew up in the U.S. between the 1950s and 1980s, chances are you were bombarded with negative stereotypes about the Soviet Union. It seems that Russia is delivering on a number of these Cold War stereotypes  this week, as the Sochi Winter Olympics take place.

Oppressive laws? Check. Shoddy construction? Check. Invasion of privacy? Check. Housing problems? Check. Disgusting water? Check. Killing of stray dogs? Check. Shared, less than functional toilets? Check. For many Americans, these Sochi goings-on reinforce negative Cold War stereotypes of Russian incompetence and coldheartedness.

Twitter, in particular, is being used to document many of the Sochi issues. A new Twitter account, @SochiProblems, popped up just a couple of days ago, and already has over 170,000 followers. The posts by this account, and by others under the #SochiProblems hashtag, are a mix of comedic and tragic. Under this hashtag, for example, is where many people learned that Bob Costas, in one of his first television broadcasts of the Olympics and after only about 24 hours in Sochi, had come down with a bad case of pinkeye, presumably from the local sanitary conditions.

Some Americans seem to be tuning out of the Sochi Olympics because of the harsh Russian policies. However, others might tune in the way rubberneckers tune in to a car wreck.

[Originally posted at Messaging Matters. Copyright 2014 -- All rights reserved]

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Comment Preferences

  •  Let the schadenfreude flow! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gffish, jayden

    Fuck Putin.

    "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

    by Yamaneko2 on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 08:28:09 PM PST

    •  Yet, when Romney said the same, many Kossacks.. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG, gffish, Lujane, a2nite, DuzT

      ....defended Putin.  

      The truth is, we live in a dangerous world, and man at his core is tribal.  We express our tribal nature via the nation-state, which, to the dismay of many, will be around as long as man.

      Russia, and to a MUCH larger extent China, are our enemies.

      A couple of months ago, a US naval vessel (USS Cowpens) played "chicken" against a Chinese warship in the East China Sea, with a casualty-resulting collision narrowly avoided.

      My Point?

      This Olympics isn't that different from others.

      Hitler's 36 Olympics.  Mexico City 68, after the government had slaughtered thousands of students.  Moscow 1980 and LA 1984, marked by boycotts.

      Olympics will always be a political animal, exploited by the host country for political ends.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

      by PatriciaVa on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:15:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  So many athletes from all over the world (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, chimene, Lujane

    spent way to many years training and training to reach the Olympics.

    As a huge Olympic sports fan, I intend to focus only on them.  

    There should not be politics at the Olympics.

    It's all about those athletes.

    Go TEAM USA!!!

    Growing old is inevitable...Growing up is purely optional

    by grannycarol on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 08:35:24 PM PST

    •  Athletes somewhat caught in the middle (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gffish, Lujane, jayden

      There shouldn't be politics at the Olympics, but this year, there are. Especially for a Winter Olympics, it feels like there are many distractions this time, some of them seemingly brought on by the Russian or local government. The fact that reporters are affected directly by some of these issues makes it unlikely that they'll go away.

    •  the olympics ARE politics (8+ / 0-)

      why do nations spend so much on their olympic athletes? why do we separate athletes by nation, and play their national anthems at medals ceremonies? if the olympics weren't about nationalistic propaganda, qualification wouldn't be nation, there would be no national uniforms, teams, or anthems, and american media wouldn't obsess on american athletes and the events at which americans are good.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:11:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Some of those athletes (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gffish, sagesource, jayden, jabney, Tony Stark

      are gay or bi or straight people who care about loved ones who are not straight.  You think they should just shut up about all that?  Russia made it about gay rights by being horrid, not us by reacting to their injustice.

    •  I intend to to use the internet. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric K

      To get results and best clips without giving a dime to NBC, the IOC, or to sponsors of the Sochi Olympics. I would no more support this in the face of moral issues than I would if an Olympics were hosted in apartheid South Africa or somehow Uganda.

      Human rights > Athletics

      Don't tell me it shouldn't be political. The athletes are pissed too. The only difference is they are locked in.

      The U. S. Constitution doesn't guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.

      by Tony Stark on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 06:36:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Gays on Strike (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimene, jayden

    Reports of Sochi accommodations suggest that Russia's gays have gone on strike. More seriously, it appears that the same constellation of stereotypes that launched the parody travel guide to Molvania are at play.

    •  I think the problem is simple. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think Russia simply misunderstood and thought that they were supposed to be hosting the Hunger Games this year. "Want water that won't scar your face? Earn the favor of a Sponsor! They'll be watching via the hidden cameras in your shower."

      (Perhaps a little less of that 51 billion should have been spent on hidden shower cameras and a bit more on Plumbing 101, do you think?)

      Já þýðir já. Nei þýðir nei. Hvað er svona erfitt við það?

      by Rei on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 03:51:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I love the Olympics summer and winter (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I had the great fortune to live in LA during the 1984 Summer Olympics and spent a lot of time in the Olympic Village and as a spectator at the events. It was one of the most memorable weeks of my life.

    The darts thrown at the Russians seem well deserved, but I'll be focusing on the athletes and the events.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 08:39:36 PM PST

  •  "Hello. My name Peggy" (5+ / 0-)

    Sochi service.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:00:50 PM PST

    •  I wonder if ex-Soviets are a safe stereotype? (0+ / 0-)

      And if people would freak if the commercial used a phone service stereotype that's closer to real life but potentially a little racist like Pakistanis and Indians?

      "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

      by Stude Dude on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 03:28:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm really shocked. I was certain (5+ / 0-)

    Putin would see to it that Sochi made Russia look good.  Instead, it's resurrected the worst stereotypes of poor Soviet planning.

    I'm a Christian, therefore I'm a liberal.

    by VirginiaJeff on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:31:57 PM PST

  •  Do you have evidence that construction is (0+ / 0-)

    not unusually shoddy, for example? Sure, people are piling on but the problems are real.

    •  "Not unusually shoddy"? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Not sure what you mean there. It may be that the construction in Sochi is their usual construction (that would further stereotypes of the old Soviet Union, see, e.g., Hedrick Smith's book "The Russians.") The link in the post shows what purports to be photographic evidence of this construction.

      •  It's not their usual construction. Go to Moscow (0+ / 0-)

        and stay at any hotel there. Doorknobs don't fall of and there is running water. The point is that if the descriptions are accurate (and there is no reason to believe that they are not) you can't dismiss them as Cold War stereotypes.

        •  In that case, still don't know what you meant (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          by "not unusually shoddy." If we agree that Sochi's construction is more problematic than that in Moscow or Russia as a whole, that only highlights the problems at Sochi and is puzzling given the massive budget and the knowledge that, when you host the Olympics, the eyes of the world are upon you.

  •  The oppresive laws are very real (3+ / 0-)

    your attempt to minimize Russia's disgusting human rights violations is vile.

  •  People should look around in their own backyard. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Musial, devis1

    Funny how people forget our government destroyed the Soviet Union by creating Al CIA Duh, and now the smug Americans complain about how bad it is there.  While people in their backyards live in dilapidated RVs with no running water.

    "Fragmented and confused, we have no plan to combat any of this, but are looking to be saved by the very architects of our ruination."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 10:33:57 PM PST

  •  No U.S. if Soviets don't win eastern front in WWII (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, DuzT

    - check. Russia has been a geostrategic ally since the American Revolution, gifted us Alaska. But then we attack the Russian Revolution, and fascists and anticommunists convert Soviets into an enemy, particularly Truman in 1945. No NATO or big MIC without making Russia an enemy, regardless of its poltical philosophy, U.S. hegemony ascendant.

  •  One commercial that fell of the face of the earth. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Cf: "Imagine a country with no competition"

    "I vent meet!"

    "No meet! Half fesh!"

    Next day.

    "Fesh no goot!"


    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 03:32:32 AM PST

  •  Why Cold War stereotypes? Putin. (4+ / 0-)

    The quintessential ex-KGB cold warrior is running the country, and trying to 'restore Russia to its glory days'.

    The guy is a walking stereotype, although I've got to admit, the homoerotic bare-chested photo-ops are a new twist on a strong father figure leader.

  •  All of this assumes Putin's goal (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, DuzT

    was to make Russia look good, and that he failed.

    Isn't it at least equally possible that his goals was to had out $50 BILLION in goodies, pocketing back the money and favors, and that he succeeded? It's obvious the money went somewhere other than actual construction and infrastructure, so people either (a) cheated, or (b) played exactly the game that was intended.

    Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Palate Press: The online wine magazine.

    by dhonig on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 04:34:48 AM PST

  •  I don't see Schadenfreude at (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    work here. America no longer hates Russia. If anything, I think most of us would like them to have learned from their backwards ways and come to adopt more Western attributes. It is disappointing, not reaffirming, that 25 years after the fall of the Wall that huge country is still filled with misery (both for humans and for animals). Your average Russian person just wants the same things we want; it is not her fault that the country is run by criminals and that the economy is a kleptocracy.

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