Putin as Celebrity and Cultural Icon
Though in recent months Putin’s popularity has frayed at the edges, the dearth of comparably powerful and experienced political leaders leaves no doubt that he will continue to be a key political figure. During his tenure as Russia’s President and subsequently as Prime Minister, Putin transcended politics, to become the country’s major cultural icon. This book examines the nature of his iconic status. It explores his public persona as glamorous hero, endowed with vision, wisdom, moral and physical strength—the man uniquely capable of restoring Russia’s reputation as a global power. In analysing cultural representations of Putin, the book assesses the role of the media in constructing and disseminating this image and weighs the Russian populace’s contribution to the extraordinary acclamation he enjoyed throughout the first decade of the new millennium, challenged only by a tiny minority.
'The book’s visual elements combine to show how Putin’s ‘comics-cum-Hollywood-action-film image’ (p. 5) is both constructed and deconstructed in Russia today. The overall impression is that there is not a single area of life in Russia on which Putin has not left his mark. It may well be true that, as Goscilo remarks on her chapter of the man’s particular type of machismo, ‘the mythology elaborated to showcase Putin’s public persona of singular heroic masculinity is so hyperbolic as to verge on parody’ (p. 200). Nevertheless, for all its vacuity and ridiculousness, the Putin ‘brand’ is incontestably ubiquitous. [...] Goscilo and her contributors skilfully deconstruct the cult of personality on which that power rests.' – Graham H. Roberts, Université, Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, Reviewed for Slavonica Review 19.1, pp. 79-81
'Putin as Celebrity and Cultural Icon contains eight essays treating Putin’s cult of personality, his language, his public performance, and image, and the role these play in crafting Putin as a powerful symbol of the post-soviet Russian nation. What unites all these essays is Putin as spectacle where, wrote Guy Debord, “all that once was directly lived has become mere representation. . . .The spectacle appears at once as society itself, as a part of society and as a means of unification.” Putin as spectacle vividly captures Debord’s thesis.' - Sean Guillory, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh, councilforeuropeanstudies.org