What do Russians think when they watch the new Marvel blockbuster “Black Widow”? That’s an obvious and a strange question. On one hand, it’s not something many media outlets are going to care about. On the other, the movie is, well, about Russians. Does any of it ring true?
In today’s issue, Fred Weir finds the answer is generally no. But in that answer, he offers a more nuanced view of Russians themselves, beyond the vodka-drinking, dastardly-KGB-agent stereotypes that maybe define not only Hollywood's portrayals, but also the wider West’s views of Russia.
Actually working with Russian actors and producers would be a start. Then, between the explosions, films like “Black Widow” could also offer a drop of authenticity and let Russians “see more accurate reflections of themselves and their country,” Fred says.
That idea of shifting our perspective runs through today’s issue. We know the tragedies of New York City during the pandemic. But Harry Bruinius finds that a different perspective yields new views. In the Bronx, one of the hardest-hit areas, those compiling an oral history found deep wells of resilience, too.
And Doug Struck tells the story of Valmeyer, Illinois – swept away by a 1993 flood but now born anew 2 miles away. What was destruction has become renewal and perhaps a model. When we shift the lens through which we see the world, we often see a different world, no less credible and with different and essential stories to tell.