Looking to combat its image as an oppressive regime bent on squelching any unfettered artistic expression, Russia is now considering following its recent ban on swearing in the arts with a ban on movies that “demonize” the country, possibly by suggesting that Russia would do stuff like that. The proposal has been made by Batu Khasikov, a member of the culture committee at Russia’s Federation Council who is tired of Russians being portrayed as humorless autocrats with names that sound like assault rifles.
“Specific requirements should be introduced for film exhibition in the country, and movies where everything related to Russia is overtly demonized or shown in a primitive and silly way should be banned from theatrical distribution,” Khasikov is quoted as shouting while slamming his fist into a podium, surprisingly articulate for a vodka-soused bear.
While Khasikov did not suggest any specific movies that should be banned for preposterously painting Russians as vehemently opposed to Western-minded freedom, he did say the ban should apply to any movies where “at the screenwriter’s and director’s whim, Russians are portrayed as a threat to humanity.” However, this ban would only affect new films that apply for exhibition, meaning approximately all of Hollywood’s output through the entire 1980s and early ’90s would remain safe. Still, the recent, retro resurgence of the Russian villain in movies like Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and A Good Day To Die Hard means no one will be able to enjoy these films, but this time in Russia.
In the meantime, the culture ministry—which apparently functions like an even more self-serious The A.V. Club—released a list of 100 foreign movies that do meet with its approval, including titles such as Cabaret, The Last Emperor, Titanic, and Apocalypse Now. As The Hollywood Reporter notes, some local newspapers have already pointed out the irony of embracing Apocalypse Now and its critique of “capturing foreign territories,” given Russia’s recent activities. But no doubt the editors of these newspapers will be fine, just fine. Russia seems pretty cool.