Better safe than sorry? Hollywood cuts out Putin from two feature films

July 20, 2017 – Fort Russ News – 

Politnavigator &  Inessa Sinchougova 

The image of Russian President Vladimir Putin has been cut out from several American films, according to the Hollywood reporter.

The publication reports that Hollywood is “not ready to give television time to Russian President Vladimir Putin.” And it’s not just Hollywood – exposure in general seems to be off-limits unless it is highly edited. For example, my interview translation with NBC’s Megyn Kelly, which is more of a correct depiction than what NBC actually aired, has been blocked on YouTube by the NBC network based on mysterious grounds.

According to the Hollywood reporter, the Russian leader was cut out from the film “The Red Sparrow” (which will be released on March 2 next year); it tells the story of a Russian spy (who is played by Jennifer Lawrence), which the CIA has designated as a double agent. The story is based on former CIA officer Jason Matthews’ novel set in modern day Russia. The studio however shifted the story to the 1970s and set in Budapest, Hungary to give it a more “timeless” feel. Although Putin has a key role in the book, he was dropped from the lead figure role. 

Similarly, the character of President Putin was cut from the upcoming movie “Kursk”, the true story of a Russian submarine that sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea in the year 2000. President Putin appears in the source material, which is Robert Moore’s best-selling book A Time to Die, and was also in the early versions of the screenplay. 

Ajay Arora, the CEO of a digital security firm that which works with the studios says that “for a studio to release a movie about Putin that makes him look like a fool would be suicide.” The studio describes the moves as “creative choices,” but by avoiding Putin, they are also “steering clear of any Russian hackers who might protest the films” – mythical, as they may be. 

Though Putin may be off-limits due to hacking concerns, “the film industry is finding that the Russia theme is too irresistible to ignore.” – and that’s a quote!

Jeff Silver, who represents several studio clients involved in projects that either take place in Russia or have Russians featured prominently says “We’ve seen a lot of projects where Russians are portrayed as villains, but I don’t think this is a revival of the 1980s. The political climate is so much more fluid, nuanced and chaotic today; good screenplays and stories are reflecting that.” 

Well, we don’t know what a good screenplay is according to Mr. Silver – but you only have to go as far as the newly released Fast and Furious 8 movie; traditionally a series about fast cars and lots of butts and boobs. Even here, the crew finds themselves in a Russian military base, beating up the bad guys. Sigh. In 2017, it seems Russia can sell anything – including the lack of an interesting story line. 

But a key point remains to be made here – CNN was recently exposed that the Russia stories they spin are false, but create good ratings for the network. The film studios on the other hand have thought twice about painting Vladimir Putin as a mean, or let alone, weak guy. Therefore, it would seem, that the entertainment industry is now more cautious in its portrayal of non-fictional characters than the profit-driven Western mainstream media. 

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