Fiction Turned Life

Here’s a story from the chronicles of the Russian invasion. In one of conquered villages there was a woman called Lyuba. She lived with her disabled mom and took care of her. A Russian soldier raped Lyuba for a week. Then he told Lyuba he loves her and offered to send her to Russia to save her from the war. Lyuba refused. The Russian soldier got upset and shot Lyuba’s disabled mom.

This is shocking only if you haven’t followed the Russian cultural space for the past 30 years. The Russian soldier simply followed a plotline that inspired countless popular TV series and staged talk shows. The first one of them, as far as I remember, was the massively popular TV series “Охота на изюбря” (2005). In the series, a man brutally rapes a woman and then tells her he loves her and proposes. The woman is finicky at first but then realizes it’s true love, and they live happily ever after. This plot was repeated endlessly in books, TV series, etc.

I’m not excusing the rapist/murderer, of course. I’m simply explaining the thinking behind his belief that rape is romantic.

Somebody asked in the comments what I mean by Russian dysfunction. This is one example.

4 thoughts on “Fiction Turned Life

  1. While I understand your hatred towards Russia, this is story is more about patriarchy and masculinity. I have seen countless Bollywood movies with similar themes and there are probably many Hollywood stories as well.

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    1. Not really, though. In the USSR, such a plotline would have been completely impossible. Rape was portrayed often in Soviet movies (not graphically, of course), and the victim always hated and often murdered the rapist. In the post-Soviet space in the 1990s, it was the same but a lot more graphic. There was, for instance, a very famous movie were an elderly grandpa who used to be a sharpshooter murders the men who gangraped his daughter.

      So we had 80 years of every cultural product that touched on the subject of rape portray it as a terrible crime. Then all of a sudden, it all changes completely and now rape is this great romantic gesture. But not everywhere. Only in Russia.

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    2. “many Hollywood stories as well”

      I can only think of a few….I’m sure there are more but they’re not super common like Bollyrape movies….

      The Fountainhead…. Ayn…. Rand….. what can you say? There was also some rough sex in Atlas Shrugged but entirely consentual.

      General Hospital (the Luke and Laura story around 1980 which began with rape and then turned into a love story a very big popular cultural deal at the time). This was less about romanticizing rape and more about rewriting a popular character with a big fan base into a romantic hero and by the time the relationship turned romantic-sexual there had been a lot of regret and repentance and talk of responsibility and consent).

      I’ve seen a few Ukrainian series in recent years but only one had a rape (in the past of the character and a very unromantic source of trauma).

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      1. The closest it got in the USSR to providing a positive narrative of rape is a movie from the early 1980s where a woman tries to leave her philandering husband. She gets gang-raped and decides to return to the husband because she sees the rape as punishment for her attempt to break up the family. But that’s a far cry from romanticizing the figure of a rapist. If the movie tried showing the woman falling in love with the rapist, the censorship would have never let that through.

        There was a time in the USSR when rape was punished by death penalty. But that law had to be repealed because rapists started murdering their victims. If it’s death penalty either way, at least they’d get rid of a witness.

        That 2005 TV series, I was stunned precisely because it was so new. This whole approach had been unthinkable. That movie from the 1990s where the grandpa murdered the granddaughter’s rapists had been a cult movie. The actor playing the grandpa was a megastar, known for his roles as Lenin and Zhukov, which was the highest sign of trust from the regime. We all collectively adored the vengeful grandpa. Here’s a link about the movie
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voroshilov_Sharpshooter_(film)

        Then just a few years later there’s a completely different narrative. That’s why it was so shocking. It wasn’t same old. It was a brave new world.

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