Posted by Jason Diamond
Two things I’ll admit are:
1. My Russian is really terrible. And just as it goes with Hebrew–another language I sort of know–I can barely read it.
2. I’ve lived amongst Russians for a good amount of my life, but they’ve never ceased to stop amazing me, and also bewildering me.
Snob Magazine is the latest entity that has forced me to think about both numbers 1 and 2, and realize that yes they might be perceived as shortcomings, but both are totally understandable. Russia is a strange and wonderful placed filled with strange and wonderful people that I’ve always been fascinated with. I’ll never fully understand Russians or their culture, but I continue to try.
Snob is a perfect example of trying to understand. I find myself attempting to rationalize why is it that every few city blocks I walk, there is an ad for the Russian language magazine founded by Mikhail Prokhorov? Like I need to hear more from this guy. I already know he wants to turn downtown Brooklyn into something resembling the middle ground between the 4th and 5th circles of hell. Now he’s got his magazine plastered all over the place, and in some weird Joe McCarthy nightmare scenario, the Russians have taken their infiltration of America to a whole new level.
But what’s really the point of all the ads? The magazine is said to be running at a circulation of 20,000 in New York; hardly a speck in terms of readership. And I hate to spoil all the fun, but the magazine isn’t even in English. So why should the roughly 8 million or so people who don’t speak the language care? I’ve heard several different reasons, ranging from the absurd: Keith Gessen’s sister is the Editor-in-Chief, to the somewhat rational one with sociological leanings such as “it’s a snapshot of how Russians perceive wealth in the 21st century.” Neither of these really lead me to any concrete answers because to myself and the millions of other folks who can’t read most of Snob, we’re just left to think to ourselves, “that looks nice,” and just keep walking to the next piece of product propaganda.
But I guess if you’ve got it, flaunt it…