During his tour through the Russian Orthodox capital, Eddie Huang engages with Muscovites in an number of unorthodox ways, such as:
- Eating lamb kebab marinated in pomegranate juice.
- Eating hot dogs.
- Playing ancient arcade games and talking trash.
- Walking the streets where crooked cops linger in search of bread (shakedown).
- Eavesdropping on two Muscovites who’ve been dissing his friend and the girls he’s talking to.
- Talking about Russian vodka.
- Drinking Russian vodka.
- Puking Russian Vodka and regretting every shot.
Eddie probes Russian culture via a humorous, lighthearted lens, offering us insight on elements of Moscow life that would otherwise be too hot to handle
The whole thing looks and feels frivolous, more like an escapade than a documentary, but upon closer look there’s method to the silliness. Through his tongue-in-cheek approach, Eddie probes Russian culture via a humorous, lighthearted lens, offering insight on elements of Moscow life that would otherwise be too hot to handle. His analysis of the term ‘nigger,’ for example, as used in Moscow … or the morose, if not bellicose, nature of Muscovite culture … or the fact that racial profiling is not an issue because in Moscow ‘everyone gets profiled.’ (wow!)
To his credit, Eddie’s the first to put a caveat on his footage, acknowledging the risks of drawing conclusions from it. ‘You gotta resist the temptation to allow any individual or singular voice to speak for an entire community,’ he states.
He’s right. The only ones in a position to speak for entire communities or cultures are the actions of said communities or cultures themselves. One may draw conclusions about them while observing their overall actions, as expressed through law, de jure, or through action, de facto, over a substantial period of time.
Eddie Huang isn’t interested in a long and deep study. He’s there for a short while, having fun, spending a little Vice cash and resources, making a few observations along the way. He doesn’t venture too deep. He prefers the incidental approach, remaining pleasantly at a distance, tracing things out from the vantage point of anecdotal interactions with individuals and small groups.
Call it a grand video mosaic that colors the picture one video pixel at a time
In this day and age, this isn’t a problem. There’s a little for everyone, if one cares to search. Pluralism and variety make it easy to piece things together. We, observers/enablers of the grand show called Globe on Social Media 2.0, have countless productions at our disposal from so many channels — Vice, NatGeo, BBC, Discovery Channel, ZDF, RAI, the list goes on – which we piece together, to each our own, getting to know more about the societies and cultures they depict.
Call it a grand video mosaic that colors the picture one video pixel at a time. The more you search the more you find, and the more spherical our perspective.
It’s a great age to live in for anthropological, sociological observation. This is the golden age of social and cultural psychology, and we’d do well to take advantage of it, while it’s (mostly) free.
Eyes open, mind sharp.