Porn

Translation of a LiveJournal post by olga-smir (in Russian).

This small text goes into the box of translations I started with a post by a mystical Russian mathematician Roman Mikhailov. It is about the most valuable element of the (post-)Soviet culture, largely underrepresented in Western media—the Russian sentiment towards life.

Disclaimer: the original text may not be considered “good” prose, and I am by no means a legitimate translator. Nevertheless, I tried my best to make the translation retain that strange feeling about life which seems to play an important role in Russian identity and deliver the political message precisely.

The original post contains a picture of a woman holding a poster saying “You watch porn? You’re a rapist”.


What a silly, inappropriate woman is holding this poster. Also, not very helpful to potential rape victims, to say the least. What if she succeeds to convince some other idiot of the same kind (quite unlikely, but still)? What if he then thinks that, as long as he is already a rapist, it would be nice to at least get laid? He would then probably not target this silly woman, but rather go for some normal, innocent girl. This woman, nevertheless, got me to remember the good old days.

One of the many jobs I had in my younger years was in a video rental shop, do you remember that was a thing? All the VIDEOTAPES (yes, yes, videotapes) that we sold and rented were illegal copies, of course. Our business owner, Andrey, a huge bald made man, used to make copies himself and bring them with his ride and stack them against the walls in our tiny cockroach-infested shop. We were located inside a grocery store and sometimes cockroaches would hide between videotapes. Andrey used to smash them with his fat fingers when he was around. We even saw a mouse one or twice, good thing Andrey didn’t catch it.

A big portion, if not the majority of our videotapes were porn. Oh yeah, this nice German kind, understandable without translation and dear to my heart. Well, we also had action movies and, I beg your pardon, Disney Snow-whites. I naturally used to take them home to watch, not the Snow-whites, but the porn. I also supplied all my neighbors and friends. Some tapes I used to carefully steal, and some Andrey would copy for me himself — the ones I especially admired. I still have these tapes, too bad I can’t watch them anymore — VHS is long gone.

We even brought some along when visiting friends — not bottles or joints, but videotapes. I remember we were friends with a family living next door, they also had a kid, redheaded, a bandit, just like our own kid. Not to come empty-handed, we would bring our videotapes, and then chip in for some booze all together. I still remember, they were called Vika and Sasha, and in they had two huge fluffy dogs in their place, and a whole bunch of other people, Vika’s big redheaded family.

Sasha was an enormously sized, likable man. After the army they offered him to become a cop. When I asked if he agreed he raised his hand to punch me right in the face for such an offensive assumption. Good thing Vika has stopped him. She was a tender girl, loved kids and animals and took care of her dogs and multiple nephews (except for her own son, of course). Even porn she watched for humanistic, educational purposes. Her simple-hearted explanation was:

Well, you need to learn to do nice and pleasant things, master them. Sometimes you watch it multiple times, even in slow motion, and still can’t get it right.

I don’t think this stupid, arrogant poster woman wishes anything nice or pleasant to anyone at all. My kind redheaded friend Vika, in contrast, tried hard to learn. She was an exceptionally good, open person, even if somehow simple-hearted and disorderly.

She used to pick my kid up from daycare, along with her own, and bring him to my shop. He would stay there until the end of my shift, later in the evening. At first, of course, she used to take him to her place, but my kid is allergic to dogs, so he started suffocating in tears and boogers. So now he had to spend dark winter evenings with me in the shop.

The shop was awfully cold inside. The kid used to sit with me in his little dark blue overalls and his dark blue hat, tired and seemingly ready to suffer anything. His cheeks were burning, but he never complained. Sometimes he would fall asleep right in the shop, and my friend Seryoga from the grocery store would pick him up and carry him to my house: through wasteland, covered in squeaky black ice, across frozen courtyards, past deformed naked trees, bushes covered with snow crust, black concrete boxes, flickering with dim domestic lights in the icy windy sky. At home waiting was my husband, hot tea, cozy, warm bed for the kid and a videotape player with porn. We would snuggle, like homeless children, lonely and lost, staring at the screen and smiling in amusement.

Damn, makes me wonder: how come? where did it all go? how did it turn out this way?!

P.S. Commentators here are discussing porn, nobody supports my liberal populist sob. How did we, simple-hearted, thoughtful, worthless but kind porn-lovers, become a bunch of Putin-lovers, dull, castrated, grim sadists? Such a shame.