This week Vladimir Putin signed legislation that bans outright the use of swear words in films, stage performances, and media.
Here are the details from David Remnick of The New Yorker:
You won’t read it in your local family newspaper, but the law centres on the four pillars of mat: there is khuy (“cock”), pizda (“cunt”), ebat’ (“to fuck”), and blyad (“whore”). Sorry about that, but the English equivalents are, if anything, rather pallid and polite.
And that’s just the beginning, the base ingredients for the great lexical fantasia of mat. As Victor Erofeyev describes at delicious length in his 2003 article “Dirty Words,” there are thousands of variations and elaborations on these four words, and they go back to the earliest Russian classics.
Remnick gives several examples of classic Russian poetry which uses these words, and wonders how far authorities will go to enforce the law.
The law will reportedly be limited to pop culture and will not apply to art, but the line between the two is blurred (e.g. stage performances, films).
Putin’s push to wipe out this part of the cultural lexicon shows just how far Putin is pandering to conservatives (and Russian Orthodox Church) since, as Erofeyev wrote, “the syllables blya-blya-blya and yob-yob-yob echo through the air above Russia like the bleeps of a sputnik.”
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