The revolution in Russia was the beginning and end of a lot of things but it truly is the events leading up and the fallout that hold great importance. Mass culture in particular was one of the areas that suffered greatly in the violence and sudden change of the revolution. Russia mass culture, including music, literature, and other forms of entertainment, often focused on stepping over the bounds of the current social norms particularly sexual social norms. The farther the bounds crossed the more sensational it grew. But a number of intellectuals and Bolsheviks saw sex itself was a distraction from the suffering and exploitation and nothing more than an ‘opiate of the masses’ similarly to religion according to Marxism.
This entertainment class flourished under Tsar rule and kept its power and freedom but all of that came crashing down in the revolution. This culture could only have been a factor that was a pushing force on the revolution, what was seen as sexual depravity by the Bolsheviks that was distracting the masses from their real pain and exploitation. This form of escapism that was very available and present to the masses was an obstacle in the eyes of revolutionaries from mobilizing the masses to come together as one force. The revolution required high emotions of righteous fury from the masses and the entertainment industry pushing moral ambiguity would only dissipate such. Only revolutionary and workers songs had a place in the revolution.
This image truly says it all. The common working Russian man throwing down the temptress of entertainment who is there to do nothing more than distract him from his greatest purpose. The destruction of the pre-revolution mass culture in Russia is important as a measure of before and after the revolution. The ideals of the Bolsheviks are represented greatly throughout many aspect of the revolution but the loss of literature, music, and movies, now restricted to only certain topics showed a social step back. Mass culture was focused on escapism in Russia at this time, escape from the miserable working conditions, escape from the toll of the war on everyone but also an escape from the masses purpose according to the revolutionaries. It was an obstacle that needed to go and stay down after the revolution. Some pieces of literature that are pre-revolution are an enlightening read on the development of the popularity of revolutionary ideals. Almost any book by Fyodor Dostoyevsky includes a section of the book that comments on the new Marxist ideal. Crime and Punishment (1866) in particular speaks on how the ideals were either ridiculed by the middle class or seen as only the topic of university student styled intellectuals. How far these ideals have come and effect history itself is shown in a timeline of music, literature, movies and almost all other form of mass culture.
List of Media that relates to revolutionary ideals:
-Almost books by Dostoyevsky but Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov in particular
-The Peddlers (song) (1916, Varia Panina. Transposed from a Hungarian csardas. Lyrics: Nikolai Nekrasov)
-Little Creole Boy (song) (1918, Aleksandr Vertinskii. Sung by the author)
-Evgenii Bauer: Life for a Life (movie) (1916)