Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Mass culture: The worse, the better

Mass culture receives tons of criticism from everyone on a regular basis. Yet, mass culture only grows from this criticism, and Russia is no exception at this point. As a result, mass culture threatens to bury traditional Russian cultural values, some people, mostly conservative, say. Maybe one should not cling to the past and give way for new trends, others say. Is it possible to influence these processes in the modern-day society?

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, everything that is traditionally referred to as "old" was broken not only in the economic life of Russia. Radical changes occurred in the cultural sphere as well. The manifestations of popular culture of Western countries, which 20 years ago used to be objects of ridicule on the part of the Soviet propaganda, came to us to become a new cultural paradigm of the new Russian reality.

Television was filled with utterly stupid reality shows, primitive soap operas, programs devoted to speculations on basest instincts, or completely unscientific nonsense - endless stories about aliens, psychics, dwarfs and giants ...

Under the pressure of primitive and simple mass culture, academic culture was ousted from Russian TV to only one channel called Kultura (Culture). In prime-time, TV channels prefer to air soap operas and utterly annoying talk shows.

The Russian film industry was divided into two camps: independent films "not for everyone" and mass cinema, with films by Fyodor Bondarchuk and Nikita Mikhalkov. During the recent years, the Russian mass cinema has been trying to give birth to blockbusters.  However, expensive epic films that they release in Russia one after another can never match the psychological depth of many Soviet motion pictures. Even if they are focused on important topics of historical patriotism, as, for example, the latest film by Bondarchuk, "Stalingrad," but somehow they see the light as very shallow and artificial flicks.

One may assume that modern Russian filmmakers try to mechanically borrow the standards of Hollywood and Oscar-winning  films to use them in the domestic film industry.

Russian musicians also tend to replicate foreign styles. What's good for America or England - the musical styles that emerged in these countries - look sickly when delivered directly to our grounds. In principle, we can say that the distribution of Anglo-Saxon and American musical styles is a part of the general expansion that these nations have been implementing successfully, or maybe even a side effect of it.

Russian pop music created by Western blueprints should lose and it loses. However, there are alternatives to these styles, because the Russian culture simply could not work out its own unique and authentic styles. Russian folk tunes have not laid the foundation of any popular musical style and remained the lot of small school choirs. So we have Russian music adopting Negro subculture, for example. It turns out not good, and that's understandable.

Speaking of popular music, one can say that there is no popular music in Russia. What Russian radio stations broadcast mostly has nothing to do with the art of music. During the 90s, there could be outstanding pop performers found, who could be called singers and musicians, who had at least minimal vocal talent. Today, it is possible to ascertain that mass music has degraded completely. Just noise, meaningless vibrations in the air and silly rhymes. "You do not let me go, I'm about to close the door, you share your bed with me, fly into my arms," popular singer Stas Mikhailov sings. Can this be called poetry?

Russian pop music is also divided into two main streams: the so -called  "chanson" and standard "pop" teenage disco beats. They share people's preferences equally, but they have one thing in common:  absolute lack of musical taste. Why has the "prison" theme captured the hearts of Russian listeners? This is a topic for another discussion. What can not be ignored, even if you are sickened by this "prison aesthetic" is that there is terrible degradation in this area too. Russia has no other Vladimir Vysotsky.

No one needs good vocals today; there is no demand on good music - TV channels and radio stations do not need that. Everything is dominated by the following principle: the more primitive the better.

"Do not let your soul be lazy," Nikolai Zabolotsky once wrote. What is happening now in our culture can be described as total mental laziness. Television and radio exploit this property of human nature, igniting and pandering it.

Why is this happening? Pravda.Ru asked Honoured Artist of the RSFSR, and People's Artist of Russia, Lyudmila Senchina, to share her opinion on the subject.

"I believe that music and songs are the most powerful weapon in a good sense of the word. But every era has its own weapon. During the Great Patriotic War, brilliant songs were written, but we're not going to say that we need, God forbid, war to have brilliant songs? Music is dictated by the circumstances, it moves with times. Music reflects life. Therefore, it is difficult to blame authors. It's simply a different era today. I think that only parents and no one else can educate good taste. One should read real books with real pages, rather than their electronic versions. Parents should show good old cartoons to their children. Culture, education and taste - it all depends on the family."

So, it is only time that is to blame. What is the main objective of our time? If, during the war, everything was all about victory, what do we have now? Unfortunately, today's primary idea is the idea of  ​​financial gains - that's the most important thing today. Capitalism deforms the spiritual sphere. This distortion lies at the basis of cultural issues - business supplants creativity.

This phenomenon can be observed in the field of fine arts too. Many professional painters, who received academic education, were forced to go mainstream, artificially created by art dealers. Instead of creating beautiful paintings, artists started to make incongruous installation of wire and garbage - because it is advertised, it is easier to sell it. Who dares to shout out that the emperor has no clothes?

Pyotr Tolstoy, TV presenter, a member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation told Pravda.Ru:

"Popular culture is a product designed for consumers. In principle, it is understandable, why it is successful - all these reality shows, pop hits - this like fast food in gastronomy - anyone can eat it. The quality of fast food, of course, leaves much to be desired. Why don't we have anything decent and special? I think that there are such things, but we do not see them, because a mass culture overshadows everything."

Nadezhda Alexeyeva


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