Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Birth of the Brezhnev Cool
Nick is on to something by pitching a new Soviet television series. For my part, I’d love to see a show about the Brezhnev era. I’d like to see a show that is marketed to America’s aging population about elderly politicians jockeying for power in the context of a closed, decrepit politburo. It might have the feeling of Twelve Angry Men meets Paris, Texas. And let's face it, neither Madmen or Obama has anything on Brezhnev when it comes to being laid back and cool.
The Paris, Texas inspiration would mean that nothing would ever happen in the show, it would be slower than molasses: 55 minutes of bureaucratic utterances, pregnant silences, and official jargon—and five minutes of human speech. The backdrop would be the Kremlin, the May Day Parade, and Lenin’s perfectly preserved corpse. Television studios will no doubt ask me to make Lenin’s body the narrator for the show a la the dead neighbor in Desperate Housewives. The show would teach Americans to speak the language of Communism, but of course the scientific discourse of Marx would now exist in a world that no longer believes in the promise of socialism. The great divide between Brezhnev rhetoric and reality might be revealing. What if Americans have also abandoned belief in the system we continue to support out of habit? (See also the Daily Show's Comparison of Obama with Gorbachev-both young, prematurely popular, charismatic leaders who won the Nobel Prize, etc.)
If the studio passes on this proposal, I’ll pitch Addicted to Communism, with Dr. Drew. Here, eight or so ordinary folks from various East European countries who still missed communism would go into rehabilitation. They’d talk about how hard it was to let go of Communism and its ideals, benefits, and certainties. One many might say he missed the security of a guaranteed job, another would talk about how hard it was to live with full knowledge of the super-rich, another would talk about the unity of the socialist half of the world, and another might just miss the way his country used to sweep the Olympics. They’d talk it out and adjust to the fuller possibilities of life under capitalism.