Moscow Prime Time: How the Soviet Union Built the Media Empire that Lost the Cultural Cold War (Paperback)Kristin Joy Roth-Ey (author)
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When Nikita Khrushchev visited Hollywood in 1959 only to be scandalized by a group of scantily clad actresses, his message was blunt: Soviet culture would soon consign the mass culture of the West, epitomized by Hollywood, to the "dustbin of history." In Moscow Prime Time, a portrait of the Soviet broadcasting and film industries and of everyday Soviet consumers from the end of World War II through the 1970s, Kristin Roth-Ey shows us how and why Khrushchev's ambitious vision ultimately failed to materialize.
The USSR surged full force into the modern media age after World War II, building cultural infrastructures--and audiences--that were among the world's largest. Soviet people were enthusiastic radio listeners, TV watchers, and moviegoers, and the great bulk of what they were consuming was not the dissident culture that made headlines in the West, but orthodox, made-in-the-USSR content. This, then, was Soviet culture's real prime time and a major achievement for a regime that had long touted easy, everyday access to a socialist cultural experience as a birthright. Yet Soviet success also brought complex and unintended consequences.
Emphasizing such factors as the rise of the single-family household and of a more sophisticated consumer culture, the long reach and seductive influence of foreign media, and the workings of professional pride and raw ambition in the media industries, Roth-Ey shows a Soviet media empire transformed from within in the postwar era. The result, she finds, was something dynamic and volatile: a new Soviet culture, with its center of gravity shifted from the lecture hall to the living room, and a new brand of cultural experience, at once personal, immediate, and eclectic--a new Soviet culture increasingly similar, in fact, to that of its self-defined enemy, the mass culture of the West. By the 1970s, the Soviet media empire, stretching far beyond its founders' wildest dreams, was busily undermining the very promise of a unique Soviet culture--and visibly losing the cultural cold war. Moscow Prime Time is the first book to untangle the paradoxes of Soviet success and failure in the postwar media age.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Weight: 482 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 20 mm
"With Moscow Prime Time, Kristin Roth-Ey has written an ambitious, original, and fascinating account of Soviet film, television, and radio in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, when the Soviet Union cultivated a mass culture intended to rival western dominance internationally. . . . Adducing evidence from archives, interviews, and printed sources, Roth-Ey convincingly argues that during those three transformative decades, as sundry forms of public experience became private, Soviet culture gradually came to mirror those of its western counterpart. Meticulously researched, well-written, and extremely engaging, Moscow Prime Time is an extraordinary 'must read' for students and scholars of 20th-century history and culture."--Citation by the 2012 AATSEEL Award for Best Book in Literary/Cultural Studies Committee
"Moscow Prime Time is a smart, ambitious, original, and engagingly written contribution to our understanding of late socialism in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. The reader learns about changes and continuities between Stalinism and post-Stalinism, stodgy bureaucratic responses to technological change, Soviet mass culture, and the increasing privatization of previously public and collective forms of Soviet life. This is a 3-D history of Soviet media, with attention to the political, cultural, and social factors at play in the development and expansion of film, radio, and television."--Anne E. Gorsuch, University of British Columbia, author of Youth in Revolutionary Russia and coeditor of Turizm
"This insightful study is a strong addition to the growing body of work concerning Soviet media culture during the Cold War. . . . It is a compelling, well-documented, articulate examination of the processes, products, and effects of the Soviet film, radio, and television industries. Roth-Ey argues that the Soviets' success at creating an indigenous popular culture became a major part of the USSR's eventual downfall, since the media in which the culture was expressed were inherently skewed toward a non-Soviet worldview."--Choice
"Not only does Kristin Roth-Ey provide a wealth of fascinating details about subjects such as Soviet ticket sales for domestic and foreign feature films, she also analyzes the multiple tensions that constrained post-Stalinist mass media production, and develops a consistent, powerful argument. Moscow Prime Time is a meticulous, well-written, and original book, a fascinating read."--Russian Review
"Kristin Roth-Ey's Moscow Prime Time interweaves an analysis of Soviet cinema 'as an industry' with the much-less studied phenomena of Soviet radio and television. . . . Roth-Ey successfully connects the history of post-Stalinist mass media to the broader struggle for power and influence during the cold war. . . . Moreover, Roth-Ey's book contributes positively to the growing historiography on the Soviet Union after Stalin with its focus on mid-level institutional actors within the Soviet system, which thankfully takes us beyond the traditional dissident/repressive-state dichotomy of scholarship on this period."--Joshua First, Technology and Culture
"The Soviet media machine may not have been ready for the global prime time, but Kristen Roth-Ey most definitely is. In this intelligent, clearly written, and cleverly researched work, she examines the many ironies of the USSR's history through the prisms of film, radio, and television. This is an important contribution to the excellent and growing literature we now have on post-Stalinist Russia. The Soviets managed to create formidable media institutions which sought simultaneously to educate and entertain, a contradiction they never seemed to solve."--Robert Edelman, University of California, San Diego, author of Spartak Moscow
"Kristin Roth-Ey's book makes a great contribution to the existing literature. Her description of Soviet cinema and television in the post-Stalin age helps us to understand the world of the simple Soviet citizen."--Peter Kenez, University of California, Santa Cruz, author of Cinema and Soviet Society
"Moscow Prime Time is an empirically rich and analytically sharp social and cultural history of Soviet radio, TV, and film and an important work for understanding the USSR after Stalin's death."--Terry Martin, George F. Baker III Professor of Russian Studies and Director, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University, author of The Affirmative Action Empire
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