It’s been eighteen years since the Soviet Union was relegated to the dustbin of history, but that hasn’t stopped Westerners from looking back on the very failed experiment in Communism with kitsch-fueled nostalgia, one of the many ways we display our utter contempt for the cruelties and complexities of the past.
It always irks me to see movies like V for Vendetta or whatever latest vodka marketed via constructivist graphics in the spirit of “Workers of the World Unite!” calls to arms, but Slabovian State TV – a social networking website for teenagers created by Britain’s public-service channel and BBC rival Channel 4 – refuses to fall into post-modern ahistoricism.
Instead, SSTV satirizes the totalitarian coarseness of Soviet rule to convey messages of safe sex in the fictional Slabovia’s potato-producing, anti-capitalist, pro-martial law workers’ republic.
Parodies take the form of The Potato (the main site’s “State-Approved News & Gossip”), user-generated content on SlabSpace, Slabovian guide Big N Brown Book, and, naturally, Slabovian State TV. Unfortunately, State TV reveals the confused tone of the whole of Slabovia.
Despite Russian accents and names, Soviet satire seems to have nothing to do with the SSTV’s youth education mission. That mission consists mainly of lessons about dating and sex from cartoon duos Kierky & Nietzsche (thin & tall and short & stout thrift store-attired goofballs who rock out to songs about pregnancy on “KNTV”), the “naughty and nice” advice-dispensing Svet twins, and the humanoid group the Sex Spies.
As helpful tips for puberty-trudging adolescents State TV is fine, but seems simply bizarre that this stuff is delivered in the guise of Soviet era government sponsored television. The jokes don’t have much to do with the Soviet or any other union, usually just conforming to silly, 14-to-19 year-old-geared hi jinks.
“Interrogation Machine” interviews with real sex counselors and a “KNTV” series devoted to teaching about the world’s great philosopher’s are also strewn about, but it’s almost impossible not to notice how much more apropos are the contributions of the social network’s users, with Slabovian-style fitness videos led by mustached Molotov, demonstrations of potato-oriented events for the Slabovian games, and Slabovian Air Force soundtrack tryouts called “Apocalypse Now! That’s What I Call Music” (“Kumbaya” is briefly considered”).
Apparently Slabovian’s growing citizenry understands the national spirit better than its dear but somewhat out of touch leaders.