This week Evgenia Kovda and I talk to my dad Boris about American movies he watched in Leningrad and the effect they had on him. What’s funny is that many of the films he remembers were clearly picked and shown for ideological reasons — they showed the dark underbelly of American capitalism: poverty, political corruption, criminal syndicates. But the Soviet propaganda managers in charge of picking them turned out to be inept and clueless. Because the films had the opposite effect: they made him like America, and ultimately contributed to his decision to get himself and his family out of the USSR.
It’s not surprising. To my dad — who spent the first years of his life living in a log cabin in a gulag settlement — even the poor and exploited Americans in these films looked like they were doing alright. I bet most people in the Soviet Union thought pretty much the same thing.
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