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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 January 2021
This article focusses on the American reception of a British–Romanian documentary about the black market for VHS Hollywood films in 1980s Romania. The film uses two different registers of nostalgia. On the one hand, it functions as an ostalgic media product that engages Eastern European viewers by building upon a sense of continuity with the socialist past. On the other hand, its surprising success in the American conservative blogosphere reveals the endurance of Cold War exceptionalist tropes. My analysis expands current discussions of post-socialist nostalgia, arguing for the relevance of the concept of ostalgia for the field of American studies.
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13 Emily Skarbek, “Chuck Norris vs. Communism,” Library of Economics and Liberty, 1 June 2016, at http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2016/06/chuck_norris_vs.html, accessed 12 March 2020.
14 Liz Wann, “Chuck Norris vs. Communism and the Transformative Power of Film”, Christ & Pop Culture, 1 July 2016, at https://christandpopculture.com/chuck-norris-vs-communism, accessed 12 March 2019.
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17 See www.studentsforliberty.org/quatro-documentarios-netflix/fb-chuck-norris-vs-communism, accessed 13 March 2020.
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24 Anul cinematografic 1966 (București: Arhiva Națională de Filme), 145; Anul cinematografic 1978 (București: Arhiva Națională de Filme), 110.
25 Anuar cinematografic 1983 (București: Centrala Româniafilm, 1983), 85.
26 In Romania, the Securitate tried to infiltrate its agents among the radio station's collaborators, and in the 1980s organized systematic and often violent campaigns against Radio Free Europe, pursuing Romanian dissidents and RFE journalists, even abroad. For more on radio consumption in Eastern Europe during communism see Constantin Pârvulescu and Claudiu Turcuș, “Devices of Cultural Europenization,” Studies in Eastern European Cinema, 9, 1 (2018), 3–14. For the story of the disinformation campaigns and assassination attempts carried out against RFE journalists see Petrinca, Ruxandra, “Radio Waves, Memories, and the Politics of Everyday Life in Socialist Romania: The Case of Radio Free Europe,” Centaurus, 61 (2019), 178–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
27 There is no more data in the Romanian National Film Archives on foreign films that entered the country, either for movie theaters or for television after 1983.
28 Mustață, Dana, “Within Excess Times and a Deficit Space: Cross-border Television as a Transnational Phenomenon in 1980s Romania,” in Fickers, Andreas and Johnson, Cathy, eds., Transnational Television History: A Comparative Approach (New York: Routledge 2013), 89–102, 90Google Scholar.
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31 Jackson Diehl, “VCRs on Fast Forward in Eastern Europe,” Washington Post, 17 April 1988, at www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1988/04/17/vcrs-on-fast-forward-in-eastern-europe/001ecc3b-8645-4472-a86d-1a3b02904072/?tid=ss_mail.
32 Bayles, Through a Screen Darkly, 63. For more on the relationship between the military and film production also see Suid, Lawrence H., Guts and Glory: The Making of the American Military Image in Film (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2002)Google Scholar; Alford, Reel Power, 9–15.
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35 Jacob V. Lamar Jr., “The Pentagon Goes Hollywood: Filmmakers and the Military Enjoy a Profitable Partnership,” Time magazine, 24 Nov. 1986, http://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,962933-1,00.html, accessed 12 March 2019; Steve Rose, “The US military storm Hollywood” The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/film/2009/jul/06/us-military-hollywood, accessed 12 March, 2019.
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37 According to György Péteri, the Iron Curtain of harsh border controls and militarized ideological camps existed alongside a more transparent “Nylon Curtain” that separated the competing modernities of the Socialist Bloc and of the West. Through it, people living in the East were constantly aware of the differences in the quality of life and consumer goods their societies could offer, when compared to capitalist economies. See Péteri, György ed., Nylon Curtain: Transnational and Trans-systemic Tendencies in the Cultural Life of State-Socialist Russia and East-Central Europe (Trondheim, Norway: Program on East European Cultures and Societies, 2006)Google Scholar.
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42 The list includes actors (Ioan Gyuri Pascu and Adrian Sitaru), a controversial businessman and media personality (Silviu Prigoană), an entrepreneur and film festival director (Christian Grindean), a journalist (Marius Chivu), television and radio personalities (Lavinia Stefan, Vlad Craioveanu and Mihai Dobrovolski), and film critics (Tudor Caranfil and Cristi Luca), among others.
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54 Pease, “Anglo-American Exceptionalisms,” 198.
56 Pease, The New American Exceptionalism, 25.
57 Spanos, “American Exceptionalism in the Post-9/11 Era,” 294.
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