Max Fisher. THE SIMPSONS PREDICTED THE UKRAINE CRISIS BACK IN 1998
The rapidly worsening tension between the United States and Russia, not to mention Russia's invasion and annexation of part of Ukraine, has got lots of people talking about a new Cold War. That's overstating things, but it's true that US-Russia relations are at their worst since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Russian foreign policy is at its most aggressive. Even Russia hawks did not foresee things getting quite so badly, quite so quickly.
But someone did: the writing staff at The Simpsons. An old episode, Simpson Tide, predicted the return of the Soviet Union and a new Cold War way back in 1998, when Boris Yeltsin was president and relations were good. The show began with Simpsons patriarch Homer Simpson joining the Navy, ending up on a submarine that accidentally gets into a shooting match with a Russian sub, and wandering into Russian waters in what is taken as an attempt to defect.
That leads us into this clip, in which Russia's ambassador to the United Nations reveals that the collapse of the Soviet Union was just a ruse:
Obviously this was just a joke about how improbable it would be for a Russian official to push a button and bring back the Soviet Union. And of course Russia's invasion of Ukraine does not mean that the Soviet Union is back. But there is a certain continuity between Russia today and during the Soviet Union, with its aggression in eastern Europe and its anti-Western politics at home.
That continuity, though, actually goes back much further than the Soviet Union, to the Russian Empire of the 18th and 19th centuries. For all the changes in Russia over the last few centuries - from a royal empire to a totalitarian communist union to a capitalist federal state today - some things have stayed consistent in Russian political ideology and the nation's view of itself and its role in the world. That's included a certain tension with the West and territorial designs in eastern Europe.
All of which is to say that, yes, the push-button return of the Soviet Union was a joke, but the return of a specific kind of anti-Western foreign policy and authoritarian governance is not a joke, and in fact is a reality that millions of Russians and Ukrainians have been living with for centuries and are still living with today.
Hat tip to Twitter user @cszabla for flagging the video.
Max Fisher. THE SIMPSONS PREDICTED RUSSIA'S CURRENT ECONOMIC DOWNTURN BACK IN 1999
There is saying in the entertainment industry, meant only in half-jest: The Simpsons did it first. No matter what the gag or idea, the 25-year-old cartoon almost invariably got there first.
It turns out that this applies to international geopolitical events as well. Today, the Russian ruble tumbled in value against the dollar, due in large part to plummeting oil prices, as well as Western economic sanctions. But The Simpsons did it first: as the Guardian's Alex Hern points out,
the cartoon portrayed this very event this in an episode way back in 1999:
The clip is from the opening scene, in which members of the Olympic committee debate where to hold the next games. After this, they decide to consider the Simpsons' hometown of Springfield, and exactly 22 minutes of hilarity ensue.
The lesson here, beyond simply appreciating the apparent foresight of an American cartoon program, is that this 15-year-old clip shows the extent to which things have not fundamentally changed in Russia. Of course it was not actually predicting today's Russian economic downturn, but rather riffing off the earlier downturn, of which there have been several. The fact that the clip could have been today is a remind of the degree to which the country's post-Soviet economy is still unstable, still prone to major shifts due to changes in the price of oil and natural gas that are its dominant exports. And that economic volatility is still a tremendous force in shaping Russian politics.
It's a reminder that, while Putin has indeed brought sweeping changes to Russia since taking power in 2000, a year after this episode aired, he has not solved the fundamental economic problem at the heart of Russia's struggle to adapt to a world after the Soviet Union.
Соединённые Штаты Америки, государство в Северной Америке.
Холодная война, глобальная геополитическая, военная, экономическая и идеологическая конфронтация между СССР и его союзниками - с одной стороны, и США и их союзниками - с другой.
Симпсоны, самый длинный мультсериал в истории американского телевидения, длящийся 26 сезонов.
Simpson Tide, девятнадцатый эпизод девятого сезона мультсериала Симпсоны.
Борис Николаевич Ельцин (1931 - 2007), советский партийный и российский политический и государственный деятель, первый президент Российской Федерации.
Гомер Джей Симпсон, один из главных героев мультсериала Симпсоны и отец в одноимённой семье.
Военно-морские силы США, один из пяти видов вооружённых сил США.
Российская империя, государство, существовавшее в период со 2 ноября 1721 года до Февральской революции и провозглашения республики в 1917 году Временным правительством.
The Guardian, ежедневная газета в Великобритании, основана в Манчестере в 1821 году под названием The Manchester Guardian.
Международный олимпийский комитет, международная организация, созданная для возрождения Олимпийских игр и пропаганды олимпийского движения.
Спрингфилд, город, в котором происходит действие мультсериала Симпсоны.