Cargo Cult of Personality & Reverse Cultural Appropriation of The Donald


The Cargo Donald
The Cargo Donald

The longing  for acceptance in the West was crucial in the decision-making of the late Soviet / post-Soviet nomenklatura. The jeans & bubblegum  ‘cargo cult’ was practised by many common Soviet citizens and nomenklatura alike. The Western goods raised the social status of a person possessing them and had the taste of the forbidden fruit. Of course, they were seen as cool and hip and their owner became cool and hip by association. Rock’n’roll – seen as the manifestation of Western/capitalist society and its lifestyle – turned into a rebellious dogma for the younger generation of the USSR (the communist imagery was used by their American and European agemates in a similar way). It was a perfectly fitting message from the Ideal Other of their mothers and fathers. (Vodka vs Caviar)

I’ve spotted The Cargo Donald in a Moscow bar. Is it the last stand of explicit pro-Americanism in Russia? Or rather it represents a quasi-cult of personality (in advance – like Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize) that sprouted out of TV propaganda and hopes for Perezagruzka 2.0?

Danila Trumpov
Danila Trumpov

It is fun to watch how the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory is spreading like wildfire in American media. The Donald narrative as nash paren’ (our guy) in the White House can be seen as reverse cultural appropriation of a Russian dream of an American hero (in its recent form). If Russians are Americans’ ‘evil twins‘, then Russia’s ‘American hero’ must be positioned as ‘bad’ in the US. The duality of The Donald’s trickster nature also plays a role in the ambivalence of interpretation regarding this character in both cultures.

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