Reblogging this again because we’re going to talk about why this is one of my favorite RusAme pictures in the all of ever
First off, we’re going to deal with the whole idea of smoking. Not really as much nowadays, but in the time period I imagine this picture to be set (During WWII or immediately post war, so it’s seen as a harbinger of Things To Come) smoking is very much indicative of a kind of camaraderie or brotherhood. Sharing a smoke, bumming a cigarette, giving someone a light….still lingo that’s used in some capacity today and still a sign of friendship.
But then that idea is tweaked a little bit beyond the mere symbolism of smoking by what’s actually going on in the picture…
You see, Russia was always one of the Big European Powers due to it’s utter size and manpower but it tended to lag behind in terms of advancement before communism took hold, especially with respect to industrialization and modernization. And even with its economy eventually bolstered by strides in heavy industry and technological advancement that originated with Stalin and grew in the postwar decades it always lagged behind the US in terms of consumer goods (which is arguably one of the reasons for the USSR’s fall). The lighter is representative of that, the symbol of consumerism and mass capitalism masquerading as a friendly gesture.
This picture reflects their inherent differences as superpowers and it’s so great and god look at their expressions. Russia is suspicious and appraising, America is smug. It’s like they’re both entirely aware of what this simple actions means.
It’s an almost playful action that nevertheless reflects more the serious undercurrents of competition within both a political and a personal context (and how the former translates and feeds into the latter and vice versa). There is friendship and there is camaraderie but there is also competitiveness and suspicion and the desire to one up the other by any means necessary.
I just like this picture so much and how it says a lot with very little