What follows is my full-length translation of a fascinating article about political satire on Russian television. The article was written by Yulia Taratuta, and it was published in Russian Newsweek on May 24, 2010. The article is on the longer side, but I think it’s a worthwhile read. I’ve included a number of hyperlinks to try to provide context for readers unfamiliar with Russian entertainment.
On television, they’ve started to joke about politics. But for now the humor, like the news on TV, is controlled by the hand of the regime.
Everyone can buy a ticket to a taping of the show “ProjectorParisHilton,” which airs Saturdays on Channel One. This is a Western practice: it’s thought that he who pays to participate in the show laughs more honestly than freeloaders off the street. A week ago, their guest was French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier. Together, he and the hosts made fun of the clothes worn by Natasha Koroleva and Masha Rasputina, and later joked about director Fyodor Bondarchuk. “Alright, we’re done talking about United Russia’s advisory board,” concluded Ivan Urgant, putting aside a photo of the director, who recently joined the Party’s leadership. This particular moment was never broadcast.
Also not making the cut was the entire “Ukrainian bloc”: a parody of Viktor Yanukovich, explaining that he called Anna Akhmatova ‘Anna Akhmetova’ in honor of his sponsor, Rinat Akhmetov — and a skit about the criminal case launched against Yulia Timoshenko: “It’s stupid to give a woman money and later ask what she spent it on.” They also heavily edited the final gag about Britain’s new coalition government: “It’s not one person who manages the country, but two!” exclaimed Sergei Svetlakov. “Where do you see that?!” piped up Ivan Urgant. “Eventually, they’ll have to compete to see who’s in charge,” Urgan added. “Leapfrog!” Svetlakov summed it up. They also edited out these bits.
The taping takes more than two hours, but the hosts are only on the air for thirty minutes. Of course, the purpose of this montage wasn’t just to cut out the excessively sharp political jokes. Whether it’s the times or the viewers that have changed, or something else, it turns out that contemporary television has a hard time maintaining its audience’s interest without political satire. The central TV stations’ ratings have started to drop, as many active young people have simply stopped watching television. TV needed to reclaim these viewers and somehow force them to watch the news, though they apparently found it to be extremely boring. Continue reading ‘Newsweek on Russian TV Satire (Full Translation)’ »