Russia and the United States have a long history of rivalry and diplomatic confrontation. With the establishment of the USSR, the two cultures have become opposed to each other. While Soviet Union practiced socialism, the United States developed capitalism and even prosecuted people who were suspected to be communists. Nowadays one of the main ideological differences between the countries is faith. The dominant religion in the US is Catholicism, while in Russia it is Orthodox Christianity.
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The main holiday of the year for many Americans is Christmas and Russians pay more attention to the New Year. The latter celebrate Christmas on January 7, however, this holiday is not as popular in Russia as it is in the US. In Soviet times, Russia was isolated from the outside world, the culture there was developing within itself, while the United States, being the “melting pot” of nations, combined different traditions to fuel its own economy. Even though these countries seem to be different, they have mutually influenced each other’s cultures.
Throughout the 20th century, the US and Russia had strained relationships, so most of the Eastern European influence stemmed from the Russian Empire. Russian artists and performers had a great impact on the American culture. For example, method acting was invented by Konstantin Stanislavsky in the beginning of the 20th century and exported to the US after World War II. Hollywood stars still employ this method of acting up to the date and it has become a staple of some of the most famous actors, such as Marlon Brando or Al Pacino.
In literary field, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, and Leo Tolstoy have become the best-known Russian authors in the US and their works are still being adapted for big screens or theaters by the American artists. The establishment of the Iron Curtain in the 20th century almost stopped the cultural exchange between the two countries, which means that the majority of the Russian artists who became famous in the US were of the 19th century.
America has always successfully exported the products of its entertainment industry abroad. Russian rock was born after the citizens of the USSR learned how to print counterfeit vinyl records, so they could listen to the Western rock groups, many of which were banned in the Union when the genre was developing. Aside from the race to space, in which the Soviet Union held the first place for some time, the countries competed in cinematography and animation. Soviet cartoon company Soyuzmultfilm followed Disney’s footsteps closely and the film studio Mosfilm was producing hundreds of movies every year and was the Russian version of Hollywood. In terms of media, Russia has always borrowed new technologies from the American industry, which is still the most profitable in the world.
American culture was disregarded in the Soviet times, however, during Perestroika, American goods were finally available to Russians and the influence of the USA increased. Movies, music, clothes, and food were met with excitement, as the USSR often had a deficit in production. The US is famous for its fast-food chains and Russia has adopted many American franchises, such as McDonald’s and KFC. In return, Russia tried to export its fast-food chain Teremok to the US, but it had no success there. American market was already oversaturated when Russian entrepreneurs tried to expand their businesses, but the fall of the Iron Curtain was a perfect time for the US to fill Russian stores with their products.
Russia and the United States are two powerful countries, and their cultures were closely intertwined throughout the 20th century and up to this day. However, by means of globalization, America was able to have a great impact on Russian culture. Historically, Russia and other Soviet republics were isolated from the world for decades, thus, when Russians were finally able to culturally exchange with the world, American media and goods flooded the market. Currently, Russian influence is not evident in the US, but some historical figures of the past became famous abroad and impacted the American culture.
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