The BRAND «THE name of RUSSIA” as a component of Manipulative media communication N. Golev, O. Jakov
N. Golev, O. Jakovleva
This article is devoted to the research of "The Name of Russia” project as an example of manipulative media communication considered in terms of cognitive and communicative linguistics, speech act theory, ordinary political science in linguistics and the conception of practice in the social sciences.
The keywords: media communications, discourse, SPEECH manipulation, identity, political science in linguistics, proper names.
This article is included in the research paradigm of the manipulative potential of natural language, actively used in different sorts of modern communications, such as commercial, media, political ones. The famous PR campaign about a TV project "The Name of Russia" which was held in 2008 and caused great public response (and discourses) we mean the academic, journalistic, advertising and political one. The term "The Name of Russia" has become a brand, combining ordinary and scientific reflection, ideological and pragmatic (marketing) ideas, people's expectations and the interests of political elite. In this paper only a few aspects of this enormous mental-communicative phenomenon are being considered. In this case, the mental component is the target aspect of the study, and communicative is a tool one. Their unity and is the subject of the article.
The idea that man lives in the world of names, which can be proper and common, more or less known, doesn’t already seem revolutionary. However, an average man, using a large arsenal of language every day, is absolutely sure that the language is completely subordinate to him and exists for him in fact. This reflects the immanent capacity of language, which L. Wittgenstein defined as an "unproblematicness" and "involvement in everyday practice”. And yet this very daily routine, everyday practices that construct everyday human activity are of special interest both for modern science and for different types of pragmatically oriented communication. So the modern commercial doesn’t seek only to report about the time and place of the goods sale (what? Where? When?), to make recognizable its main attributes (brand name, shape, color, special features of packaging, music, commercial characters, etc), but also to specialize the goods with the help of these techniques in order to induct them into the structure of the individual’s nonreflective everyday life. Therefore, people will sooner or later get used to the fact that a better toothpaste, which takes into account all possible ways to guard his mouth against all possible diseases is "Colgate”, and every man saves himself from the potential danger with this paste, and an endless flow of supporting commercial information doesn't let him doubt the correctness of his choice. Thus, the names don’t just help us to choose the goods from a number of similar, at some point they begin to foist them on us. However, the commercial is still relatively an "honest" way of manipulation of our consciousness: the rules of the game are more or less clear to us and no one expects any "disinterested" advertising from the well financed communication.
Much worse when the communicator’s intentions are not so obvious, and he is not, as the advertising legislation require, "a clearly defined customer". We are talking about some various regulatory discourses that daily construct our loyalty or, conversely, opposition, law- obedience, ethicality, culture and others. Some of them can be attributed to PR-communications, the subjects of which are the various commercial and public organizations. The other part belongs to the discourse of power, which realization can be gained , in addition to the usual Soviet-era pathos, by using the methods which are not so explicit. Apart from a rich arsenal of logical and rhetorical techniques (selection of facts, the antithesis constructions, "sticking labels" etc.), the media widely use the methods of the so-called "right nomination": the militants were annihilated, but the Russian army soldiers were killed; and the conflict in South Ossetia is memorable due to the phrase forcing Georgia to peace; so as not to hurt the public with the reports of a considerable number of deaths at the Sayan-Shushenskaya hydro-electric power station , the mass media gradually increased the lists using the locution , "the death toll reached ...». The drawn examples, as the realization of the discursive practices of power, form a unified field because of the identity of each of the four characteristics (as Foucault): 1) what type of phenomena may be the subject of this discourse, 2) who can take the position of the speaking subject, 3) what kinds of concepts may be acceptable in this discourse, and 4) what theories can be conceived and formulated in it. In this work we are particularly interested in how the first and second principles interact with the third one. Every day we face the accomplishment of such interaction: if someone calls a servant of the law "a militiaman", so he indirectly determines his belonging to the discourse of the law-abiding citizen, who respects the power and its individual members; if he calls him "ment”, he expresses a marginal discourse with a typical cynical attitude towards life.
However, the discourses one way or the other responsible for
the formation of national identity of Russians, which represents a diffuse and heterogeneous
structure, are of particular relevance to the manipulation, while the success of
communication "power-people" requires a certain and predictable recipient.
Without going into the social and historical background, we should only note
that the issue of the identity of the
modern Russians is associated, among other things, with the absence of the consistent
historical foretime comprehension: according to Morozov, VE, after the breakup of the Soviet
Union, Russia was to build a new nation state and to form the national identity, as many former Soviet
republics did, but , we have chosen the conception
of the state continuing the Soviet State
traditions and the imperial historical narrative as such [Morozov, 2009. p. 427],
that did not allow to form a clear view
of the Russian (including Soviet) history.
Thus, one of the most important factors of the of the national identity formation
is the attitude toward the past, its "assumption".
The mass media including visual media play a great role in this process in modern society. According to V. Zvereva, "in
today's media culture TV is an authoritative source, which
broadcasts images of the past to the enormous audience and forms an image of a particular
historical epoch, its major events and meanings" [Zvereva, 2004. P. 160].
That is why the appearance of the TV project "The Name of Russia” which was
positioned as nothing less than "historical
The subject of this article is an attempt to reconstruct the project of "The Name of Russia " as a communicative act, namely to reveal the specifics of the communicative intentions realization from the speech act theory perspective [Austin 1986] (that is, to identify the illocution, locution and perlocution of this project, transposing the terminology traditionally used to the particular act of speaking, to multicode communication of the TV show).
It is obvious that the creators’ of the project illocution (the verbal or wider - communicative intention), is represented by at least two types of intentions: an explicit (or declared) one and an implicit (or real?) one. The formulation of the of the explicit intention can be found on the project site http://www.nameofrussia.ru: according to its authors, "The Name of Russia” is the choice of the most valued, conspicuous and symbolic personality of Russian History <…> and that choice is not only leisured, but also evaluative. Further, they concretize the alleged "value" of characters and offer the possible semantic opposition: What is dearer to the Russians, Pushkin's cheerful poetry or Dostoevsky’s sapiential prose, Alexander Nevsky’s ice of righteous sword, or fierce of Vladimir Lenin's revolutionary speech? That means the objective of the project declared by the organizes has no ideological background and is ultimately reduced to the choice of "the favorite" historical character. The "historicity" of the project and the lack of purpose to make an idol are stressed by its producer Alexander Lyubimov, "When we decided to adapt our British colleagues’ fancy idea to choose the main historical character of the country to Russia, we completely changed the format. We discuss the characters more deeply, and corresponds to the attitude towards history in Russia. We don’t choose the best and greatest, but review the history(MK, 5.12.2008).
However, the transparency of the objectives of the project was quite doubtful from the very beginning, and the mass-media and forums responded by the "true" goal wording. So, the questionnaire survey on the official forum of the project in December 2008, contained among inter alia the following issue "What, in your opinion, is the main objective of the project " The Name of Russia?” The participants' answers reveal the attitude of some proportion of the public and towards the goal and the rules of the game as such: I used to think that the goal was to choose a Name honestly. Now, my own experiment, which occurred yesterday (02/11/2008), makes me very much doubt it, though it didn’t touch my candidate; I expected to get the independent vote of the Active participants of the project, i.e. of those who are interested in it (in the project). In fact it led to the struggle against Stalinism, Leninism, Marxism and attempts to persuade to vote for Pushkin (a gifted gentleman and a slacker); Commercial + the next portion of zombie injections. Thus, the active audience of the project offered the other formulations of the objectives, which can be reduced to the following four versions:
The goal of the project is the formation of the national identity;
The goal of the project is a sociological survey aimed at the identifying of the expectations of the audience, and their following effective exploitation in the pre-election promises.
The goal of the project is the substitution of the real political process, missing at present, by the choice simulation: The "Russia" Channel guide quite accurately worked out the following: there is no political struggle in Russia nowadays, but the need in it is inherent to man and society, then it (the fight) can be transferred in the past and the History. Hence, we have such a glow of political and ideological passions about our past, the passions, which are often just a substitute of a real political process (WP, 14.10.2008).
The substitution of the "real" (going from the bottom) passionary national idea by the imitation of it and the imposition of its construction from "the top”. If we reconstruct the project makers’ illocution basing on its results, the hypothesis of their original programming seems quite reasonable, the ideological consistency of the "choice", providing, on a plan, the unity of civil society, is too evident: 1) Alexander Nevsky is a symbol of the victorious nation (predicated by his subsequent canonization as a saint), 2) Stalin is a successful manager, and 3) Stolypin as a symbol of a strong government hand and the only person capable of the successful implementation of the economic reforms. Pushkin’s ideas of the cultural unity and even more the liberal ideas, diminishing the role of the state in the country development, appeared to be unused. There occurs an unintentional association with the "slogan" of 19 century. , made by Mr. Uvarov -"Orthodoxy - autocracy - nationality". There was a so-called trial run of its resemblance at the present time on the project (something like "Orthodoxy - state - modernization").
Thus, the communication project "The Name of Russia " should be viewed not as a dialogue with a full provided opportunity of a feedback (the survey), but as a managerial communication which purpose is to create a certain sense in the receptive audience. This assumption is valid at least because the fact that the project was broadcasted on the state TV channel "Russia". That is, instead of the expected assertive communicative act we get a directive one. Technologically, this communication is much like a brand communication, and it is confirmed by the corresponding A. Lyubimov’s considerations: The brand "The Name of Russia "is developing the brand " Russia TV Channel”, the brand" Country of Russia. A certain post-modernism in the "clumsy" declination gives the necessary feeling of aggression of the brand.
The illocution type causes the locution embodiment of the message (in this case – the form of the project). Thus, the ordinary form of the opinion poll , deprived of the show elements, more corresponds to the declared objective - to identify the most valuable for the Russians historical figure – and could help to avoid at least three types of errors: 1) the unrepresentative sample (the non-viewers of the "Russia" channel are not involved into the project), 2) the unreliable methods of the votes gathering (The online voting, the technical organization of which casts doubt on the reliability of any results, caused a special buzz; 3) the possibility of the falsification of the results by the project organizers, in which they were repeatedly accused both by the common audience and different political forces.
No doubt, that any managerial (or conversational?) communication is impossible without the views’ interest in the project, so that, obeying the requirements of the media industry, the choice of the historical person number 1 has gained such a classical-stage form, which would make the audience watch the draft: May 7, 2008 - they published the list of 500 great names of the past and launched the online voting; June 12 - they selected 50 people who received the most backing on the project site; October 5- the beginning of a television segment (the discussing of 12 "finalists" of the polls); December 27-28 – the final, December 28– according to the results of the TV debates they chose the name - Alexander Nevsky. The very essence of the project appeared to be subordinate to "the media" factor. In general, the fact, that the dead souls can be the newsmakers as well as the alive ones, is a rich idea. For good reason, the great and famous people are far more among the dead than among the living. Just dead are more at all. There is such a space for all sorts of ratings, sociological measurements, shows, etc., which any "Ice Ages " and other "Star Academies" could never dream of (the News, 11/13/2008).
In addition to these errors, there were other reasons to doubt the a priori installed objectivity of the project: Why just these 500 "great dead persons" were selected, why just these 12 public and cultural figures were chosen "lawyers" just for these12 historical person passed "the final”, etc. In the very beginning of the project there appeared a scientific scandal concerning the stuff of 500 historical names: The Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which was announced by the "Russia" channel as a scientific base of the project, participated in building the list of 500, denied this information later, but even more anxiety of the historians was caused by the way they had represented the material at that stage - a brief historical background about this or that person, which often represented the data, distorting not only the facts, but also merits and significance of these figures for Russian history .
Тhe next stages of the project were not unequivocally accepted by the public either. Thus, the Ukrainian edition of "The Gazeta 24" calls the show "finalists” the product of the new Russian imperial identity: it had to go through the years, Vladimir Putin’s two-terms presidency, a long period of fantastic energy prices increase, before the Russian society has once again felt the imperial itch (24.ua, 03.12.08). As for the "seconds" the final dozen, their line-up is not obviously driven by the presenting of the scientifically reliable information, but the intention to make a program rating, consequently, the recognition (and sometimes scandalous), and the skills of public speaking, but not professional knowledge of the history, became the main communication skills of the such a "second". However, according to V. Zvereva, history, being a delicate matter related to the memory and identity issues, enshrining "high" sense of the culture, essentially becomes open access information on TV: Any person who became popular and realized himself in any sphere - politics, literature or show business" can appear as an expert in the field of history there [Zvereva, 2004. S. 160]. So, a famous film director Nikita Mikhalkov, Metropolitan Kirill, the governor of the Krasnodar Territory Alexander Tkachev, the literary critic Yu. Kublanovsky, the communist Party leader G. Zyuganov, the Russian ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin, etc joined the staff of "defenders". However, not being professional historians, the "lawyers" took their role with great responsibility. The observer of "The Izvestia” M. Davydov emphasizes the contradiction between the pathos of their characters’ defense and the real media significance of such defense: We could frequently read that the project experienced the lack of the scientific basis. Like, that's his problem. But any temptation to give them scientific and historical character would be the history profanation, for scientific format of mass popular spectacle is impossible by definition. Not the lack of historicism confuses me, honestly, but the participation of serious people who are involved in a post-modern game show with the knowing of the important mission entrusted to them. On the contrary, by all means I would try to leave the project in the space of Social Art (Izvestia, 13.11.2008).
Thus, on the locution level the communication of the project can be characterized as the substitution of discourses: under the guise of the expected scientific (sociological) discourse the media discourse and ideological discourse were represented.
However, in the communicative space the project has generated some other discourses:
- the nationalistic one : What is the name of Russia? Whose name represents the motherland in our minds? Millions have already voted (in the the internet, yet). Here are the first six: Stalin, Nicholas II, Lenin, Vysotsky, Peter I, Pushkin. The main contenders for the name of Russia: the Georgian, German, evrokalmyk (not in the sense of European Kalmyk, but in the sense of the Jewish quarter), semi- Jewish, Russian, moor. Hence, the people, solving the important issue of choosing a person not by blood. Hence, people, solving such an important issue, choose a person not by blood. That means that the frenzy of nationalism, so much spoken about, has been a little bit exaggerated (MC, 17.07.2008);
- the political one: the deputy director of the Institute of Russian History, Doctor of Historical Sciences Vladimir Lavrov, worried about Stalin and Lenin's leadership on RTR television project "The The Name of Russia " calls on the TV channel "Russia" for changing the rules of voting in order to not allow the Communists consolidating around their idols to win. According to Professor Lavrov, "the victory of Lenin or Stalin in the referendum will cause the Communists even more loudly declare that the results of presidential and parliamentary elections in the country have been rigged.
- the geopolitical one (as a more global in relation to the previous one ): Maybe, the curators of the project quickly added the voices to Nicholas, fearing that Stalin had got the first place in the game they had started. And, they say, shall we look in the eyes of the West? And in the eyes of the West, we look just so: Stalin, vodka, frost, a bear (The MC, 17.07.2008).
By the perlocution, as implementation of the impact on the audience, we mean the results of the project. Strictly speaking, not only the final published data should be considered as the result, but also all sorts of discourses risen, which we have discussed above. However, the name of the key Russian figure for Russia, detected (or piped to this) during project, still remains the central problem.
The determination of the perlocutionary effect of the project generates at least two levels of doubt and two types of discourses generated by them. The first and seemingly suggesting itself is the possible manipulation of the election results. The visible leadership of Stalin and Lenin in the first two phases of the project made not only the communist ideology supporters doubt the final outcome: thus, the radio station Echo of Moscow (with a clearly "non-communist" audience), which announced a similar vote in July 2008, received Stalin in the first place by a wide margin against Nicholas II, according to the official version of the project. We can assume that, in order to avoid the undesirable "communist" finale, the project organizers gradually began to promote the less controversial historical figure.Thus, Alexander Nevsky became known within the project as St. Alexander Nevsky, and then as a blessed St. prince Alexander Nevsky. Watching this transformation, some viewers of the project proposed: Maybe, we should just add "a winner of the project a blessed St. prince Alexander Nevsky – the New Name of Russia"?” Meanwhile, the figure of Alexander Nevsky in the final draft is not accidental. The researcher I.Danilevsky analyzes the similar evolution of the assessment of the significance of the Battle on the Ice and the Alexander Nevsky himself in Russian history: a small and local by relevance battle had been reinterpreted first by the church in the period of the Orthodoxy crisis (as a result a politically faulty Prince Alexander was canonized as the faithful for the rejection to joint the Catholics action against the Horde), and then in Soviet times, when the film "Alexander Nevsky" that had been shot in 1937 and remained "Starless" before the start of World War II became the basis for the formation and retention of a new myth of the Battle on the Ice in the public consciousness, where the religious aspect gave the way to the geopolitical one and Prince Alexander became the main defender of Russia from Western encroachments, and Battle on the Ice became a symbol of success on this path. Summing up his historical excursus, I. Danilevsky states that the impartial approach in the Battle on the Ice assessing has not yet found in Russia a due recognition, and concludes, ""On the contrary, there are the signs that in the near future it will become popular to combine two heroic traditions -" Orthodox "and "geopolitical"[Danilevsky, 2004. S. 28-39].
Thus, we can assume that the outcome of the project and, in particular, the discourses generated by it, fully correspond to our assumption about the originally proposed directive, myth forming communication. And, of course, the "historical" myth-making, the theme of historical memory extends beyond the boundaries of the individual psychology. According to B. Dubin, "" memory "I can be adequately understood as a metaphor or a nest of metaphors, which symbolically transcribe, signify and resignify the more or less stable or, conversely, an unstable structure of society and its basic institutions in the people’s minds " [Dubin, 2004 . S. 68].In Russia, during the past 20 years the collective identification and the structure of the imaginary identity of people subjected to the significant transformation [ibid.] In this case, not only the problem of heterogeneous identity of adults is relevant today: the quality of the history teaching in modern Russian school makes the researchers talk about the loss of the unified cultural language between generations, largely due to the gaps the submission of the recent historical past, including cultural studies, in school textbooks [Veselov, 2004. S. 126-131]. Consequently, we really have the ground for the planned perlocutionary effect implement in our contemporary Russian society.
However, here comes another level of doubt about its attainability. In our opinion, the idea looks doubtful from the very beginning: as a probable task of the organizers of the project is to find the "new " historical identity of Russia, ie the creation of rule "Russia = N », where N is "a historical figure, fitting in ideological terms”, it becomes obvious that a single project, even if it has been broadcasted weekly for several months, is unable to create the conditions for the emergence of a regular association "Russia = N ». According to Wittgenstein, "it is impossible that the rule is followed by the only one person and only once" [Wittgenstein, 1994. S. 199], that is the rule is usually found wherever there is a repetitive behavior in a similar situation [Volkov, 2008. P. 85].
In addition, when we learn the proper names, we investigate the background, the background, unconscious people practice (Heidegger). Therefore, the identification of such categories as "The Name of Russia" is impossible a priori, if the study is not done in the field but constructed artificially: within the TV project with the show elements and demagogy.
Therefore, the results of the project are not the identification of the real attitude of Russians to the historic character but the attitude towards the project and its participants. In order to make the results of this experiment reliable, it is necessary to study the everyday people's attitude to the history. However, the question about the most appropriate method remains unresolved, because even a questions like "Who among historical figures ...?» derives the practice from the background to the foreground. Therefore, it is likely that, if we examine the actual practice of the "relationship" between the historical figures and people who studied in the Soviet school, Stalin and Lenin would have the highest rates. For example, Lenin is not just an abstract historical figure, he is a part of the history of the personal development of of the Soviet children (the stories about a little Volodya Ulyanov are the essential component of the program of the kindergarten and elementary school, the Octobrist asterisk, the adoption of the pioneers on the birth of the leader anniversary, a solemn pioneers guard at the bust of Lenin in school, etc.). While all the other "members" of the project are the usual characters of the Russian history, which are better or worse studied in school.
It is also very important that the very format of this show has still been untapped by Russians, who have no cultivated habit to reflect on their historical preferences, and even more to participate in their public rankings. Thinking about this phenomenon can be found on the site of the Orthodox Christian Information Agency "Russian Line": the question itself contradicts the essential quality of Russian patriotism - its conciliarity, where each person adds another, there can not be neither the first nor the second one or the twenty-fifth one. However, it is hardly justified to exaggerate this side of the national mentality. The comparison of the epochs, events and the national leaders is a key instrument to form the ordinary historical consciousness of the nation. Some interest to "ratings" can be seen already at the lowest level - the child, "Political Science": for example in the Soviet era there was a popular question among children, "Who are the main (smarter, more significant for the history) - Lenin or Stalin? But, in fact, this issue is also highly relevant for the adult Russians. Let’s recall the ideology of perestroika, where they the seriously discussed the role of Lenin and Stalin in our history: for example, in the plays by M. Shatrova Lenin is presented as an idealist, ideological leader, the genius, and Stalin - as a forger, Lenin’s ideas’ diskreditator.
At the beginning of the show it might be assumed that the established project objectives wouldn’t be achieved due to the essential impossibility to respect the requirement for the illusion formulated by Bourdieu , understood as a necessary aspect of refinement, or insertion in any game (quoted in [Kharkhordin, 2008. S. 142]). However, in this matter the project "The Name of Russia" was communicatively success. The project initiators were able to "force " the viewers (read: people) to play some symbolic actions (eg, determine the person, identified with the state), to instill that the rates of the game are valuable for all its participants.
In this case in the version of the of mass consciousness the designers managed to hide the fact that both the game itself and its rules are conventional in every instance. That is why the project captured the a certain share of the Russian population, rather than a limited group of its creators and participants, which is to say that the search for the declared value was up-to-date.
The very existence of the project became the impetus for the emergence of parallel and quasi-voting, including "The antiname of Russia " and "The Shame on Russia", which indicates that the question of our attitude towards the names and the significance of their carriers for the Russian history and for world view of the contemporary Russians remains open. However, the mental activity of our society and a new energy discursive field, generated by it, has become the most important manifestation of the communicative success of the project, as well as the activation of the important fragments of the Russian sphere of concepts included into the general ideological space of modern Russia. The analysis of such discourses and the simulation of the national mentality based on them is the major task of the communicative and cognitive linguistics, which solution promises the essential outputs in the study of the everyday ideology of Russian society which is an important component of the national mentality.
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