Let me explain.
I was in the mood for a little light viewing this morning when I came across it: a slurry of suicidal stunts, drunken near-misses, and minor catastrophes. One hundred and twenty seconds later, I was thinking to myself, "Those crazy Russians."
And sharing the video:
It's a product of Woki Toki, a Chilean purveyor of viral videos whose motto is "a single great idea spreads." Woki Toki's YouTube channel has attracted nearly 28 million video views, and it has a whole series of "The World In 2 Minutes" clips. The Russia installment is far and away the most-viewed, with the Brazil and U.S. episodes next in popularity.
But I had misgivings about the fact that this collection of thoroughly Russian videos -- of Russians, by Russians, edited by Chileans (!) -- painted a pretty hackneyed picture of Russia. I thought of the unflattering depiction in a French television commercial of a churlish Russian diner (we blogged on it, so I'm trying to find that link, folks) and the recent true story of the "oddball" Russian who faked his own grisly death to test the feelings of his future wife.
I thought about our own recent examination of the stereotyped Caucasians in Russian cinema.
I also learned that colleague Pavel Butorin had penned a blog item calling out American television for its stereotypes of Central and Eastern Europeans. His list is long and makes it clear that U.S. television doesn't paint a very flattering picture of Russians, Ukrainians, or Czechs, among others.
I was still on the fence about whether or not to share the "Russia" mashup. So I went to the tape, as they say.
"The World In 2 Minutes: Brazil" is awash with suggestive dancing, feats of machismo gone wrong, the ladies of Ipanema, and the boys of football (oh, and a little Carnival, of course):
"The World In 2 Minutes: United States" is a cocktail of klutzy derring-do, exuberant excess and gluttony, and doomed efforts at exceptionalism (as well as loads of gunplay...always with the gunplay, America):
So while they're "just what you might expect," I'm sharing the clips anyway. Because they're funny. And the Russians, or Brazilians, or Americans who posted them to the web thought so, too.
-- Andy Heil