“American Boy, American Joy” (Kombinaciya 1990)—Gendered National Imaginations between Russia and The USA
Maria Katharina Wiedlack
This presentation addresses the imaginary landscape of gendered national representations that influenced the particular and popular discourses, and arguably politics, of the time of the dissolution of the former Soviet Union. It focuses especially on the construction of the USA as male heterosexual and potent nation in contrast to a feminine and (promiscuous) (post-)soviet Russia by analyzing some popular songs by the 1990s Russian female pop band Kombinaciya. The paper investigates the construction of gendered national identities, close reading the song “American Boy” (1990) about a Russian girl dreaming about an American boy, who would take her abroad as well as the song “Russian Girl” (1990) about the love between foreigners an! d Russian women. It reads its findings against Kimberley William’s argument that the image of a feminized (which means geopolitically weakened) Russia in opposition to a masculinized America, represented by a mostly white male “U.S. foreign policy elite” (2012: 22) lie at the heart of American national identity, to find out if or how Russian representations mirror the US-American cultural and political influence during the 1990s. Including a much younger amateur video of the song “American Boy,” produced to ridicule the then Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, who was recorded dancing to it at a private party in 2011, it argues that although the song initially was produced to confirm the masculinized American triumphalism, its ironic repetition does not only ridicule the Russian president but additionally irritate the co-construction of a masculine potent USA and a feminine and sexualized Russia.
Key words: National Identity, Gender, USA, Russia
Name: Maria Katharina Wiedlack
Academic title: Dr.in
University: University of Vienna