Monthly Archives: November 2018

USA Not Really

In case you didn’t know, USA Really is a Russian propaganda site which can’t decide if it wants to pretend to be American-made or if it’s Russian but “that doesn’t matter.” The site is of such poor quality and tone it makes you suspect that for many people associated with the Internet Research Agency (AKA “Not the cool IRA“), the trolling industry is nothing but a big grift.

Laziness doesn’t even begin to describe USA Really’s problems. For example, the site just had an overhaul and yet look at its search page:

usareally

Type an “epic” there? Are you sure I can fit the entire Mahabharata into that search bar?

Sometimes the site seems like an extremely lazy version of Sputnik News or RT. For example, most people are familiar with the way those two media outlets carefully tack between far-right and far-left, subtly encouraging a red-brown alliance. USA Really, on the other hand, has no use for subtlety. It’s political tone is as if someone smashed together a conservative boomer Facebook page with a “Resistance” one just to see what sticks. RT’s format tends to work better because most people only consume it via Youtube videos and individual shared articles. As such, they’re likely to only see those things that appeal to them, meaning for example that the leftist only sees Chris Hedges, Seymour Hersh, or Lee Camp. Meanwhile the far-right viewer is likely to only see the right-leaning material. On USA Really, it’s just a mixed grab bag where anything goes.

And that brings us to their head editor, one Alexander Malkevich. Apparently the Russian Embassy in the US is claiming that he was detained at Reagan National Airport.

Yes, that’s just the Russian Foreign Ministry whining about other countries persecuting journalists. I’d suggest they start their campaign for press freedom at home, but what more can be said about Russian government hypocrisy that hasn’t already been said a thousand times?

In the Talking Points Memo story, it says there is no mention of his detention outside of the embassy’s claims and the Russian news agency TASS. However, since that article was published, USA Really posted a story about the claim. As usual, it is full of the typical bullshit one comes to expect from that site. Interestingly, USA Really claims it was Dulles International and not Reagan, although that could just be a mistake from the Talking Points Memo piece. The USA Really post contains what’s purported to be a photo of a search warrant for Mr. Malkevich, but I must confess I’m not informed enough on the local legal system to say anything about its authenticity. In any case, the article is full of hilariously idiotic claims about what supposedly happened in the interrogation, such as this:

“I believe that USA Really has been successful as a project, as during the first part of the interrogation I was asked questions, like: “Who are you, guys?” and “Why are you undermining the foundations of American democracy?” Malkevich said. “The whole first set of questions was devoted to “Why did the USA Really News Agency even come to American(sic), since it had been good “for us without you?”

I’ve seen stories on Tumblr more convincing than this one.

I’m sure we’ll hear more about the matter in the near future, but till then I’d say the only major inaccuracy in the Talking Points Memo story was the line where they describe USA Really as “RT/Russia Today on steroids.” In fact it is RT on Krokodil. In any case, based on past statements from Alexander Malkevich, I’d say he’s either a very lazy grifter or completely delusional. Take your pick.

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Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Eyes to See

What is the worst combination you could possibly imagine? Skittles on Chicago-style pizza? Mayonnaise Pop-Tarts? Automatic weapons for toddlers? I’ve got a pretty good contender. How about the worst film genre in existence, i.e. romantic comedy, and Russian propaganda about the Crimea? Not sold just yet? What if I told you this very real rom-com was scripted by none other than RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan? Yes. You read that correctly. Yes, I am going to subject you to this. I know about it, so now you must know about it. This is happening.

I realize some readers can’t fully understand that trailer, but rest assured it is a delightfully romantic romp that involves flagrant violations of international law as well as human rights! What’s next? A German rom-com where two star-crossed lovers are reunited in East Prussia when the Third Reich invades Poland? After all, Germany was merely trying to protect the German civilian population from a right-wing nationalist Polish government whose troops attacked several German border posts and a radio station!

But if this weren’t bad enough, the film apparently contains a subplot about the Crimean Tatars, and, as you might expect, it’s pretty ugly. Here are a few excerpts from the above-linked article.

“The film offers an unlikely take on the issue of Crimean Tatars. It opens with a young Crimean Tatar boy named Damir recalling how the original Kerch Strait bridge, a temporary wartime construction, was destroyed by winter ice in early 1945.

The scene is improbable at best, since the entire Crimean Tatar population was ruthlessly deported from the peninsula in 1944 by Stalin. In fact, Simonyan’s masterpiece was filmed just a few dozen kilometers from the Arabat Spit, where the last pockets of Crimean Tatars who had escaped deportation were loaded onto a boat that was then scuttled in the Sea of Azov, drowning all aboard.

Damir, however, grieves because the destroyed bridge separates him from his wartime love, a Russian girl named Raya, who has gone missing.

Damir is a forgiving type. At one point, discussing his own family’s fate under Stalin, he says simply, “They were sent away — that means it had to be.” At other points in the film, he has approving words for Stalin.”

Needless to say, not only was the situation for Crimean Tatars in the past very different from what is portrayed in the film, but the present is as well. Since the annexation Crimean Tatars have been subject to all manner of human rights violations, including torture and in at least one case, death. The whitewashing of both eras is a perfect example of how the Muscovite chauvinist regime views non-Muscovite nationalities within its grasp. “You will have your history dictated to you, and you may keep your culture and language so long as it doesn’t offend us.” 

The word ‘disgusting’ simply doesn’t suffice to describe this subplot.

As for the rest of the film, let’s just say this isn’t Russia’s first rodeo when it comes to feature length propaganda films about the Crimean annexation. There was also this piece of shit:

As bad as this may be, at least it’s not a rom-com; it’s clearly just a comedy. On the other hand, that 2017 film wasn’t written by Margarita Simonyan.

Now I know a lot of people, Americans included, will chime in with something about propaganda in Hollywood films. Sure, they certainly do (although in my opinion it’s more a matter of steering clear of certain taboo subjects more than anything), but rest assured modern Russian cinema blows them out of the water in terms of on-the-nose messaging. And whereas Hollywood will often liberally reinterpret real events to tell a better story, films like this basically invent a story out of thin air. If the examples above don’t convince you of this, check out the trailer for this upcoming Russian film, seemingly trying to capitalize off Ukraine’s Cyborgs, called Balkan Line.

In case you’re too young or not familiar with the 1999 Kosovo conflict I’ll help you out- none of that shit happened. It’s as if the Russian producers looked at Cyborgs, saw how well it did, and decided they just needed their own war film about an airport under siege. And since they couldn’t find a real one, they just made one up. In real life, the Russian airborne contingent who rolled into Pristina airport was totally isolated, and the whole situation was defused with the help of James Blunt. Yes, James “You’re Beautiful” Blunt. And it’s a good thing the Russians didn’t try anything because if you’ve ever seen Blunt on Twitter you know he’s no pushover.

But yeah, American Sniper sucks, but just imagine that almost every Hollywood film is American Sniper x 100, and your tax dollars are used to churn them out. Sounds great, right?

Honestly though, I’m wondering how far Margarita will go in the world of screenwriting. At the same time, I wonder how far the Russian film industry will go in the world of making up shit that never happened. Perhaps next we’ll see a film about how the Soviets actually landed on the moon first. The sky’s truly the limit when your film industry is a state-sponsored money laundering vehicle!