By Ted Goodman
Russians apparently like to Netflix and chill too much, because a top Russian official said the popular digital media platform is probably a U.S. government mind control project.
In an interview with the Russian news agency Rambler, Vladimir Medinsky, Moscow’s cultural minister, claimed that the online streaming service was part of a conspiracy by the U.S. government to “enter everyone’s home.”
Medinsky asked rhetorically if people thought that “these gigantic startups emerge by themselves,” suggesting that the U.S. government is directly supporting certain companies with propagandist goals.
Medinsky explained that the U.S. government understands perfectly well that the cultural influence of cinema is the art form that is most important, alluding to a famous Vladimir Lenin quote. Following the fall of the czars and the establishment of the Soviet Union, silent films became an ideal tool for conveying information about the fall of the czar and the rise of the new Soviet State. The high rates of illiteracy combined with the fact that film was a reproducible and widely distributable mass medium made film an ideal tool for state propaganda.
Medinsky said that, “through this television, [they get into] the heads of everyone on Earth. But [Russians] don’t grasp this.” They understand “with the help of Netflix, how to enter every home, to creep into every television, and through that very television, into the heads of every person on earth,” Medinsky said.
Netflix is a known quantity to Medinsky and other Russian leaders. Russian journalist Mikhail Zygar reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin recommended the Netflix series, “House of Cards” to his newly appointed Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu in 2012.
“You’ll find it useful,” Putin is quoted as telling Shoigu in Zygar’s 2015 book, “All The Kremlin’s Men.”
Netflix was founded in 1998 by entrepreneurs Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph. The company started as a DVD-by-mail service, and evolved into the world’s largest online streaming service. Netflix broke into the Russian market just this past January, and is now accessible in 190 countries.
According to Radio Free Europe, Medinsky is known for pro-Russian, hyper-patriotic public statements. For example, in 2014, Medinsky called for an annual cap for imported movies. At the time, Medinsky cited the Soviet era, when no more than six U.S. movies were allowed to be released in the Soviet Union per year.