I was watching Christiane Amanpour’s report on the Russian parliamentary elections last night. She was interviewing people on the street and after listening to a few Russian citizens I said to George, “It’s just like a fairytale!” and he said, “What, St. Petersburg in the snow?” and I said, “No, their belief in Putin. He’s stabilized the economy, expanded oil production and helped establish a thriving middle class. Now they’re all living happily ever after”. George said he’d never read that fairytale and I said there wasn’t a specific fairytale about Russia but the whole Putin thing reminded me of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson. George left the room then, because one time I dragged him through Copenhagen for three hours looking for the statue of The Little Mermaid only to discover that she was off being repaired because her nose had been blown off by some rowdy youths. Hans is still a sensitive subject in our house.
I tried out my theory of fairy tale politics on Rich and Tad in the office this morning but Rich objected right away. He said, “Russia isn’t any fairytale. Putin’s been locking up the media and shutting down a lot of individual rights over the past couple of years” and I said, “Exactly! It’s just like The Little Mermaid”. Tad looked confused – he didn’t remember there being any Russians in the Disney animation and I said, I’m using the fairytale as an allegory and he had to go look that phrase up.
Gene buzzed in on the speakerphone and asked what we were working on. I said I wanted to do a story about the Russian parliamentary elections and Putin http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071203/ts_nm/russia_vote_dc_42;_ylt=AkDChw… .
Gene was in favor of that. “He’s a menace”, Gene said happily. “He’s bringing back the Soviet empire. Next thing you know he’ll be ramping up the nuclear arms race and we’ll have to rebuild that wall!”. He sounded happy. I said, “Actually, I was thinking of using the fairy tale angle” and he said, “Putin is a fairy? Can we do an expose on that??” I hadn’t heard him this energized since Dick Cheney started talking about war with Iran. Rich intervened and said that Putin wasn’t a fairy and Gene rung off, saying he was going to check into this deeper.
Tad came back into the room with Katie. She said, “What’s all the fuss about The Little Mermaid? It was my favorite Disney movie when I was little. I was Ariel for Halloween three years in a row”. Tad said, “So was I” and I recommended he not share that memory with Gene. I said to Katie, “I’m using Mermaid as an allegory to the situation in Russia: Ariel gives up her voice and becomes mute but she’s happy because she gets to marry the Prince. In Russia they’ve given up some personal freedoms but they’re very happy with the economic prosperity that Putin has brought about so they’re also okay with losing their voice”. Katie looked thoughtful and then said, “Well, sometimes you have to give up to get, you know?”. Rich was horrified. He said, “How can you be so cavalier about civil liberties?” and Katie said, “Not everyone can sing, you know?. Some people sing and most everyone else listens to them on iPods”. She and Tad nodded affirmatively at each other and left the room. Rich was speechless. I said, “Cheer up. At least they used an allegory correctly in a sentence”.
Gene called back. He said, “I’ve decided we should do a whole series on what’s happening in Russia. Any ideas on what we can call it?” and I said, yes, the Patriot Act.
More from entertainment