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Presleystroika is an essay about the effect of pop culture on the development of a person, as well as the development of a generation. The Elvis threesome represented the ideal world, in which life was enjoyable, in which women no longer had to be subject to the injustices and expectations of reality. By using the troika, the real Elvis and Vlado as the Leningrad and Moscow Elvis, the narrator seems to be making a comment on how one s social standing and culture shape our perception of entertainment. Whereas Brother Baker, as an American, considered Elvis a Communist, the Russians saw him as a change to their communist ways. She describes the real Elvis as the Lenin of Lust, joining the different cultures and portraying their similar effects on the audiences. Whereas in America he was responsible for making girls realize that there was more to life than Betty Crocker cake mixes and crying babies (pg. 209), in Leningrad and in Moscow Elvis brought to them a sense of hope for change, where breadlines would not always be the reality.
This icon, be it real or an impersonation, made them realize that they could break the cycle and not lead the lives their mothers had. Escape, even if short lived, gave them hope. And once hope was part of them, his fans, like the narrator, had the courage to change their lives and head to New Orleans at the young age of eighteen. The essay assumes that the readers will know that Elvis was a white man singing the blues and that he set himself apart from society s norms, just by being himself. The difference between the Elvis that appeared in Biloxi and the Vegas Elvis is not explained either, it is presumed that the readers are aware of his physical and behavioral changes.
Certainly, the life of inspiring hope and lust in the hearts of young American women was not his mantra, just a result of his art; ironically, the more women he inspired to independence, the more he became dependant on drugs and alcohol. As for Vlado, the essay presumes that the readers know that he is a well-known entertainer, so it does not explain how Vlado started the Elvis impersonation act. The essay assumes that readers are aware of the situation in Moscow during the early nineties because it does not delve into details of the country s problems, nor does it give details as to the outcome. It also does not lend any insight to Gorbachev s health problems and it does not confirm or deny that he is actually alive. Readers are also expected to know whom the old-line Communists were and what they stood for. As well, the essay does not mention the consequences of the coup d tat; stating if it could lead to a civil war or not would have put it in the right context.
The narrator implicitly points out, at the end of the story, that the Muscovites, despite the outcome, will survive and keep on living because, as shown by the little boy dancing on the tanker, hope can be gleaned from anywhere, all that is necessary is a little inspiration. The iconic Elvis can be best described by, Elvis let the black cat out of the pink bag, and it was a slinky, sexy cat (pg. 209). Conversely, in a Russian environment the Elvis ideal has changed and instead Vlado is letting the cat out of the bag, and it was a desperate, hungry cat (pg. 210). Therefore, Elvis cat demonstrates that change is an attractive, if not mysterious, force, whereas in Russia, the hungry cat signifies a desperate need for change, but it can be arrived at with a lot more struggle. In America, people brace change because they live in country where political ideals are not punishable. Unfortunately for the Leningraders and the Muscovites, letting the cat out of the bag, i.
e. taking charge and making changes requires more effort and is associated with risk. I believe I am closer to understanding the American Elvis. True freedom and change can only be arrived at when the masses join together under one ideal.
For the young American women, Elvis represented a chance to move away from their typical cycle of life, and move into a type of lifestyle less traveled. He did not conform to society s expectations of a singer; he brought about a new era in music and a brand new way of thinking to the masses. He instigated change without realizing his power. Vlado, on the other hand, is simply an impersonator.
In Russia, he stands for everything that the American Elvis did, the fame and glamour and sparkling jumper suits. However, although he brought them hope for change and a desire for more, the ideals were not his to give. Those hopes already existed in Russian society, and Vlado was just mirroring them.
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