Stalin's Singing Men

April 2, 2010
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Bobby was walking home, discouraged, on a gloomy day with dark clouds promising rain. As he was walking home, he was thinking about the assignment his history teacher assigned that day at school. The assignment was to find a metaphor for Stalin’s government and write an essay about it. Bobby didn’t understand how his history teacher could expect him, the person his teachers claim to be “the worst fifteen year old boy that’s far from erudite and tries to do the bare minimum in school”, to find a metaphor symbolizing Stalin’s rule. Bobby wasn’t even sure he knew what a metaphor was! Bobby then, not for the first time, asked himself why on earth he was in an advanced history class.

After Bobby got home, he went on the computer to find some inspiration and a definition for metaphor. Several websites later, Bobby finally understood what a metaphor was and, while watching old Comedy Central videos online, thought the video of some Russian man singing a song with no words was quite random. While absentmindedly thinking of why Comedy Central would put a video of a man that sang so randomly, inspiration struck him! Bobby opened a word processor and began to write…
“Some may see a man gaily singing a song without a single word, but it he can actually be a symbol of Russia in 1928. Stalin, being a dictator, wanted people to think that the Soviet Union was the best place to live, so information was spread saying how happy the people were there. What the people didn’t know, though, was that Stalin actually was a cruel, vicious tyrant twisting the people’s mind. Singing Man is a symbol of the Russian government during Stalin’s rule.
Stalin was a totalitarian leader that turned the Soviet Union into a totalitarian state. Under his rule, loyalty was demanded, sacrifice was expected, absolute authority was exercised, and the business, labor, housing, education, religion, arts, personal life, and youth groups were in control of the state. Also, police terror, indoctrination, drastic censorship, and persecution were used as methods of enforcement. Children were not taught in school the education they deserved but rather what Stalin wanted them to believe. Farms were collected from the people (leaving them without a home or land), religions and ethnicities were persecuted, and the police monitored phone lines, read everyone’s mail, and had informers everywhere. As one may assume from this information, living in the Soviet Union during Stalin’s rule was not a happy place to be.
Reportedly, one family was gathered in a circle and were talking. The mother was pouring soup made from the chicken bones with scraps of meat and fat left boiled in hot water. After she poured all of her children and her husband the soup, she thanked Stalin for being such a good ruler to his people of Russia. Disgustedly, her husband Viktor replied, ‘How can you say that?! What has he done for us besides rob us of our farm land? We would be much better off without him!’
‘Hush now, Viktor. Don’t you say that. He is a wise and honorable ruler. Everyone knows that. Do you not see the parades and hear the words the people speak of him? We are grateful to have him as a ruler,’ the mother responded. The father, glancing at the children, let the conversation drop. At least, that is what the youngest child alleged when he went and told a police officer the next day and watched his father dragged out of his home under arrest for treason. This is just an example of the things Stalin had done to his people.

To other countries, on the other hand, the Soviet Union appeared to flourish and all of the citizens had nothing to complain about. They only believed this, though, because that is the propaganda Stalin spread. No media, film, art, books, or music was allowed to exist without the government’s consent, so the other countries only heard (thanks to Stalin) raves of how astounding a state Stalin leads. The people in the Soviet Union knew the truth and saw the injustice, but they were not able or allowed to talk about it. Therefore, the other countries remained ignorant on what was truly going on in the Soviet Union.
This is related to Singing Man because he appeared to be happy, although he didn’t even utter a word. Singing Man kept a smile on his face throughout his song (even adding a few dance steps) so he appeared to be so happy. Oddly enough, he didn’t say (or sing) a single word, deciding to rather keep his silence and put on the happy-façade. The Soviet Union appeared to have happy citizens, but that it only because they were not allowed to talk about how it really was. Singing Man can even represent the fear the people in the Soviet Union felt, too afraid to speak what they would want to say, to let the world know how Stalin was destroying the Soviet Union. The fear in their lives of Stalin’s wrath and would make them rather to obey, or for Singing Man’s case, sing his upbeat song with a smile on his face, just how Stalin wants the Soviet Union to be represented. Singing Man is a representation of the Soviet Union around 1928 when Stalin came into power and how other countries (from propaganda) heard how prosperous the Soviet Union was and how happy the people were, but didn’t know the truth of how Stalin was responsible for approximately eight to thirteen million deaths and made the citizens of the Soviet Union miserable.”





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