Politically Correct Incorrectness by Ivan Katchanovski

Politically Correct Incorrectness by Ivan Katchanovski -...

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1 Politically Correct Incorrectness: Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine in Hollywood Films Ivan Katchanovski, Ph.D. Post-Doctoral Fellow Department of Political Science University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G3, Canada Tel.(416) 946-7008 [email protected] Paper prepared for presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association in Chicago, August 30-September, 2, 2007
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2 Politically Correct Incorrectness: Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine in Hollywood Films Abstract This study examines images of Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine in American movies. The question is whether political factors affect cinematic representation of these ethnically, politically, culturally, religiously, linguistically, and economically different post-Soviet countries. A related question is how the portrayal of Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine in Hollywood films affects Americans‟ perceptions of these countries. This paper analyzes more than 100 movies and TV films from the Internet Movie Database and conducts a content analysis of principal motion pictures, such as Air Force One (1997), Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), GoldenEye (1995), Everything is Illuminated (2004), The Peacemaker (1997), The Saint (1997), The Sum of All Fears (2002), and Lord of War (2004), to identify main Kazakh, Russian, and Ukrainian-related themes and heroes. Analysis of the movies shows that they often overlook significant political, ethnic, cultural, religious, and linguistic differences among these countries. Their comparison with academic studies shows that most of the movies, incorrectly present Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine as economically and technologically backward, extremely anti-American and anti-Semitic countries, which have pervasive Russian mafia and widespread female prostitution. In spite of such incorrectness, most of these movies are regarded as politically correct by American filmmakers, movie-goers, and film critics. This study attributes the politically correct incorrectness in Hollywood portrayals of Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine to such factors as US internal politics, which confines political and cultural sensitivity to racial and religious minorities, relatively small and politically non-influential Kazakh, Russian, and Ukrainian communities in the United States, and the fact that these countries are not regarded as major US allies. In conclusion, the study discusses a negative effect that distorted portrayals of Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine in Hollywood movies, which are one of principal sources of information about these countries for Americans, have on their perceptions of the post-Soviet states.
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3 Research Questions and Previous Studies Hollywood films are not only forms of entertainment and business ventures.
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