Andrey S. Adelfinsky 1
  • 1 Bauman Moscow State Technical University, Baumanskaya 2-ya, 5, Moscow, Russian Federation 105005

Creating a Hero . . . Laughing at Clowns? Representations of Sports and Fitness in Soviet Fiction Films after the Olympic U-Turn in Politics

2020, vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 108–136 [issue contents]
In the 1940s–1960s, the USSR made an ideological turn from leftist sports politics to the struggle for Olympic achievements. How has this U-turn affected the social order in Soviet sport and its artistic repre-sentation? The article offers a systematic review of Soviet sport fiction films. The study of sport and fit-ness imagination is conducted through a correlation between artistic performance and social context. Fo-cusing on the 1950s–1980s, we found three different types of representation: № 1 is the creating of a hero (for an elite athlete). This is the lion’s share of all sport movies where the “Myth of a Hero” in Olympic sport was constructed. In praising elite sport, modern Russian movies continue the well-known Soviet tradition; № 2 is the laughing at clowns (for mass sportsmen). These are mostly episodes in feature films on themes, where mass sport (i.e., non-elite, grassroots, recreational, fitness, and ordinary) is mentioned. Surprisingly, this sport is presented in a comic sense (except hiking and mountaineering); №3 is sport reality. This type comprises the tiniest selection of movies where art reflects the real situation inside the Soviet sport industry. Elite athletes are presented here as antiheroes with social adaptation problems; ad-ditionally, such issues as shamateurism are severely criticized. The conclusions are following: since the 1970s, sport films ceased to function as propaganda of fitness and recreational sport. On the contrary, elite sport (as an art branch), its representations in official arts and media jointly constructed the great “evan-gelical myth” about itself, which became the part of public consciousness. However, this myth had little to do with a new reality. Elite sport’s positive representation acted only as a propagandist tool that created a fictional social world. The existing social order’s irrationality was critically reflected only by the comedy genre.
Citation: Adelfinsky A. (2020) Creating a Hero . . . Laughing at Clowns? Representations of Sports and Fitness in Soviet Fiction Films after the Olympic U-Turn in Politics [Создавая героя… смеясь над паяцами? Репрезентация спорта и физкультуры в советском кино после олимпийского разворота в политике]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 19, no 4, pp. 108-136
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