Из “падонков” – в “патриоты”: Восход и закат одной интернет-субкультуры в “силовом поле” современного российского политического режима
During the first decade of this century, a new subculture emerged on the Runet (the Russian Internet). It promoted a version of the deliberately distorted Russian language, first of all by systematically altering orthographic and punctuation norms. This “padonkafskii” language (given the misspelled usage of the original word, it seems more accurate to translate it as “basterds,” as in in Tarantino’s movie) has been analyzed by linguists. Its political role and implicit message have not been scrutinized until now. In the article, Ilya Kukulin argues that this basterd language was used and promoted by pro-Kremlin political entrepreneurs to develop new strategies of communication: performances of cynical transgression and symbolic violence through the humiliation of counterparts. Cyberbullying became a distinctive style of seemingly nonconformist subculture, and already in this capacity was used by the regime. Central to this communication strategy was the cult of power, xenophobia, and discarding of any idealistic motivations of human behavior as hypocritical public relations technologies. At the same time, the basterd subculture itself claimed the status of nonconformist sincerity for its members. This image of a novel subculture helped to promote its aggressive xenophobia and support for the authorities among the most socially dynamic groups of Russia’s population. Political mobilization of the basterds’ language relied on the earlier aesthetic and political strategies of Russian mass culture of the 1990s, which were partially reconfigured or further developed. The radical and socially escapist irony underlying the cultural scene of the 1990s (the article uses Russian punk rock as an example) has been recast into the view of society as a total war, perceived from the position of total cynicism and nihilism. Cynicism has become the main mode of social thinking in modern Russia. Once popular with many bloggers, the basterds’ language is now out of vogue. Moreover, experiments with language transgressions seem to have lost their popularity. Instead, the role of transmitters of an ultra-cynical worldview and proponents of symbolic violence has been assumed by officialdom as represented by press secretaries of the president, key ministries, or MPs. They display the same conscious transgression of linguistic norm and moral standards as their Basterd predecessors, who pretended to be antiestablishment and nonconformist. The preponderance of basterd language during the previous decade cleared the ground for hate-speech and symbolic violence in the public sphere as an acceptable, attractive, and even necessary format of public communication.