This comment on his Facebook page by film director Oleg Dorman suffers from many of the clichés and falls into many well-worn tropes of recent Russian “intelligentsia vs. ordinary people” discourse (including the suspiciously popular device of getting the skinny on what “ordinary people” think from taxi drivers). Unfortunately, his explanation of why Putin has been enjoying sky-high ratings sounds more plausible, given our own experience discussing politics (with lots of people who are not taxi drivers) than many others out there, and that is why we felt like translating and publishing it here. And in reality, Dorman’s remarks apply equally or even more so to the so-called intelligentsia, middle classes, and creative classes, something he probably doesn’t need us to tell him, given his wonderful film about renowned translator Liliana Lungina.
Thanks to Comrade ASK for the heads-up.
A little more philistinism.
Eighty percent support, ninety percent support, one hundred two point seven percent support. This means one thing: mass man has understood that the authorities have him by the apple again. When a Gelendzhik cabbie explained to me that “under Putin” salaries were paid punctually, “and if they don’t pay you for two months, you can go to your boss and threaten to sue,” he thus unconsciously meant his salary depends on Putin. Gelendzhik is an ugly city, like most newish Russian cities, that is, everything manmade is ugly, the houses first of all, despite the fact they are private homes. I think the reason is simple: everyone knows that your home is not yours. They can take it away at any time. They can take away everything. To fuss over the beauty of your lawn, you must be sure your great-grandchildren will inherit it. Otherwise, everything is temporary, accidental: a piece of gray slate, propped up by a rusty headboard. A clear understanding—or rather, animal instinct—that your life is totally dependent on the authorities is what makes mass man watch television continuously. He is not “fooled” at all; on the contrary, he knows that his salary, pension, and the lives of his children and grandchildren depend on what Dmitry Kiselyov says on the tube. And today’s overheated airwaves, which cause the thinking person to rage and protest, evoke a correct understanding in mass man: dangerous times have come again. If you mouth off, you’re a goner. That is why he fiercely replies “Yes, yes, yes!” to a question that essentially should be worded, “Do you support the TV?” It is the fury of a cornered, disenfranchised, scared and soundly beaten person. There is nothing else to the ninety percent approval ratings. Nobody will lift a finger “for Putin” when they come to stuff him back in his bottle. No one will defend the current “state of affairs,” because people defend their executioners only while the executioners are in power. No one cares the slightest about Ukraine, the Crimea, the Americans. It’s even sad in its own way, but it’s true. There is pity for the victims, but this makes TV viewers even more scared for their own children, who are helpless before the authorities. “Nationwide support” is a fatal symptom. Now, like an animal tamer at the circus, the authorities would be wise not to turn their backs on their charges.