Seeking modern Russian cultural context for Cheburashka
May 9, 2021 4:16 PM   Subscribe

I have recently discovered and love the original Cheburashka cartoons (thank you, vast cultural swamp that is Youtube). I am amusing myself by learning Gena's songs on ukulele. If I go a step further and, say, put a Cheburashka sticker on something public facing like a water bottle, what would a Russian person the appropriate age to have that as a childhood icon think?

I only see the cartoons and love the character. I realize he was also somewhat co-opted by the state as an Olympic mascot so there may be other cultural freight that I'm unaware of.
posted by HaveYouTriedRebooting to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I would think you were Russian and talk to you about it. Then when I found out you just like the cartoons from YouTube, I'd think that was pretty cool and recommend Hedgehog in the Fog.
posted by Pwoink at 4:52 PM on May 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

Yeah, pretty much what Pwoink said. There isn't much cultural "baggage". And I'd also recommend "Nu, pogodi!" And discuss it's similarities to "Tom and Jerry". Sticker away!
posted by pyro979 at 5:08 PM on May 9, 2021

Thirding, pretty universal and loved in the Sovietosphere, no special or untoward connotations.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:53 PM on May 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

I also discovered Cheburashka last year! My husband is studying Russian casually and we went down the whole Suyuzmultfilm rabbit hole at the beginning of lockdown.

I mentioned it to a Russian woman I met and she thought it was mildly funny that I knew it. That's it.

Some things I found on my trip down the rabbit hole:

- Criminal Podcast episode on the theft of Russian animated films. There's a whole international copyright controversy. See also the Washington Post.
- Maya Katz wrote a book on Soviet animation and how it was a field of art open to Jews at the time. I didn't read the book but I read an article summarizing it, maybe this one.

It's an interesting little window into Soviet culture!
posted by pierogi24 at 5:41 AM on May 10, 2021

My ex was born in Moscow in 86 and loves Cheburashka. No weird connotations there and the Russians I've met have been happy to see positive aspects of their culture recognized. A number of years ago I was at at a Russian piano bar. I drunkenly requested Gena's Birthday Song after the pianists shift was over and he launched into it before leaving. The bar itself EXPLODED. Everyone in the whole place sang along.

So yeah. No worries there.

Another fun thing to watch is Vinni Pukh, for Winnie the Pooh interpreted through a Russian.Soviet lens with amazing art to match.
posted by mikesch at 11:28 AM on May 10, 2021 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks all! I'm going to check out all the recommendations now.
posted by HaveYouTriedRebooting at 3:18 PM on May 10, 2021

Went shopping yesterday for brown bread at our local Russian market in Budapest. My wife saw plushy Cheburaska toys filling an entire shelf of the grocery store just above the canned sprots and dried fish. She is a natural born sucker for big eared Soviet plushy toys... but $35 bucks? For a Cheburaska plushy toy? Geez... (I kind of like the Crocodile playing accordion, though.)
posted by zaelic at 4:17 AM on May 11, 2021

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