News / Europe

Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Lawi
X
Daniel Schearf
August 22, 2014 8:31 PM
Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Daniel Schearf

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws.

Russian theater emerged from the strict propaganda of the Soviet era as a diverse forum for social discourse and creative expression.

A recently enacted law against profanity hits theaters with fines of up $1,400, however, if their work includes swear words deemed inappropriate.

Law's advocates

The law's supporters, like Moscow State University History Professor Anna Kuzmina, say it will help promote a better artistic culture.

“My personal opinion, and I support this law, is that profane language has almost become the norm and even has acquired a certain charm. Frequently, people do not take the trouble of finding the words, but speak emotionally expressing themselves with five or six, four-letter words,” she said.

The profanity law also bans the public showing of films with swear words and forces music and books to have warning labels.

While some artists agree that profanity is sometimes abused to gain attention, most are staunchly against any form of censorship-including fines.

Elena Gremina is head of the independent Theatre-Doc, which refuses to abide by the law enacted in July by Russia's parliament, the Duma.

“Our Duma was nicknamed a "crazy printer" as the laws in the field of culture are dumb and each next one is dumber. They are illogical, absurd, and one cannot understand their reasoning,” said Gremina.

Cultivating nationalism

Some of Russia's historic literary giants, such as Alexander Pushkin, employed curse words with great flare.

Before the law came into effect, playwright Evgeniy Kazachkov helped organize a comic show called “Goodbye to Four-Letter Words.”

He said there are serious concerns, though, about the restriction.

“There is also a suspicion that this law, that is written rather obliquely, will be used not as a universal instrument of control and punishment, but to target certain undesirable people in certain unique cases,” said Kazachkov.

The law is seen as part of a conservative movement to shape Russia's youth into a more nationalistic culture distinct from the liberal West.

Last year the Duma criminalized what it called “homosexual propaganda” and made efforts to ban English words borrowed into Russian.

Nikitsky Theater Director Mark Rozovsky said Russia's legislature is using morality laws to distract society from real, urgent problems they are not willing to tackle.

“You know, nothing can be reached by bans. They only yield the opposite results [of what is trying to be achieved]. It is like when they were fighting against vodka-drinking. In the same way they are now fighting against profane language,” he said.

Russia is taking its battle against profanity to the Internet with plans to launch “swearbot” software in the coming weeks designed to root-out language deemed inappropriate online.

Russia's Ministry of Culture declined a request by VOA to comment on the issue.

 

 

 

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Lora Wright from: Faraway
August 23, 2014 5:27 PM
The adaptation of the same profanity law would be recommended to the US. Lately, American movies have become much less attractive and even anti-educational because of language pollution. They are simply unusable in academics.

by: Cranksy from: USA
August 23, 2014 2:46 PM
Is this what happen to Pussy Riot?

I agree with Professor Kuzmina's comment about profane language
and respect this article for presenting several sides of the story.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More