[Russian Media Dialogue 2014] Elena Vasilieva: Just like in the movies: my American chronicle
To me, America is not about politics; rather the America I’ve always imagined consists of hundreds of well-known movies like, Gone with the Wind, King Kong, Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Rain Man, Home Alone, Die Hard, Titanic, The Truman Show, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Ghost and a host of others. My America is, first of all, the empire of cinema, home of those brave heroes who are purposeful and courageous on screen.
This is why, during my first trip to the United States, I was not looking for answers to political questions. Though our countries look askance at one another, from the first moment I stood on American soil, I felt like I was in a movie, specifically a kind of modern-day Pleasantville. I was surrounded by very familiar scenery—houses, streets, and parks. It was easy to play my part and I immediately felt like a natural. Maybe, I felt so comfortable thanks to the Americans who were nice and friendly to us, specifically, Amie Parnes, Senior White House Correspondent, at The Hill, who I shadowed for a day and who took me to the White House. While sitting in that famous briefing room, I made the most important conclusion about my visit to the US.
In Russia, many people are sure that Americans have nothing better to do but invent negative connotations against our country. In my experience, I found that Americans do not really care about Russia. The USA has its own problems, including immigration, the financial crisis, the eternal struggle between Republicans and Democrats, etc. It is also very important to distinguish the position of officials from the opinion of common.
Whatever the screaming tabloids write or whatever strange decisions may be taken in the halls of power on both sides of the Atlantic—Russians and Americans have much in common. We both live in huge, complex countries where our future is unpredictable. Most importantly, we need to fight for this future. Americans do it vigorously, energetically, and seem absolutely sure in what they do. Russians act more timidly, and sincerely. Combining both approaches, I believe you could achieve an ideal balance in the world.
Americans love their country, and are sincerely proud of the fact that they live there. And when you’re there, even if only for a few days, you also start to believe it—the feeling of belonging to what is happening around you is contagious. I think that we, as modern Russians, must learn something from the way Americans care about their country.
Lastly, one of the most important scenes from my “American movie” was the opportunity to meet so many different people from my own country. One of the most incredible moments happened while traveling on a bus back to Detroit—we all sang Soviet songs that we knew from our childhood, and it made the trip even more special. I’m really happy that I had the opportunity to discover America like this; and now, I’m also proud that I’m Russian. I do believe that one day our countries will become friends again because it’s true: we have so much in common.
Elena Vasilieva is the Editor-in-Chief of the online magazine Woman on Top, and lives in Moscow, Russia.