Wednesday, January 23, 2019
Michael Idov's Dressed Up for a Riot
Michael Idov's frenzied memoir of his life in Russia offers a suitably chaotic depiction of Putin era Russia. As editor-in-chief of GQ Russia, and sometime novelist and film entrepreneur, Idov, who grew up in Russia but emigrated to America prior to college, is well-placed to tell us about Russia's vertiginous contemporary life. According to Idov, Russia has descended into full-fledged dictatorship. The evidence Idov cites is not original. It is common knowledge that Russia has taken over the Crimea, supported separatist forced in the Ukraine, passed homophobic legislation, granted the president control over leadership positions in the provinces, jailed political opponents, harassed protesters, centralized media coverage and put that media under government control, committed election fraud, encouraged the assassinations of political and journalistic opponents, sponsored systematic public misinformation campaigns, and so on. But it's interesting to follow Idov's narrative to see how democratic practices can be eroded over time, one police or legal action at a time. It's also interesting to read Idov's argument that Russia's problems are an increasingly global phenomenon. For although Idov seems to think Russia's problems are not inherently Russian. In other words, he seems to imply that almost any society could become a victim of insecurity, self-loathing, and superficiality. And indeed, America in the age of Trump does seem to mirror the worst aspects of Russia's elite political and popular culture in the Putin era.
Posted by Fur Coat