About Svyatoslav Zhuchenya

I am Ukrainian, moved to the United States when I was four years old. I'm an Electrical Engineering Major at Portland State.


Svyatoslav Zhuchenya

Popular Culture

Sophomore Inquiry

June 1, 2015


Learning Goals

Going into the term I had very little knowledge of what popular culture really was, I had heard the word many times before but never really looked into what it really meant. As a result I didn’t really have a specific thing that I wanted to learn about pop culture just wanted to see what it was and how it can be useful. To me the class seemed like it could be very interesting because it dealt with essentially all the things that we consume on a daily basis as entertainment or education. As for taking an online course, my goal was to first of all save some time for my other courses but also to improve my communication skills with people that are not necessarily next to me. At first it was a challenge, I saw almost nobody in person but I had to have group conversations, post and reply to other peoples ideas. This proved to be challenging because, the replies to questions were not always instant. There was also a challenge in finding instructions for the course, I am used to a format where the instructor tells you in class what is due and when it is due. With this course it was very different, I had to search for instructions myself on the D2L page. I found that often I would miss something and would have very little time to complete something before the due date. Over the course of the term however, these challenges began to fade I learned how to better communicate with people virtually and I learned how to be more organized and find out information on my own.

Work Example:

One example of a group virtual communication was the mentor-writing group workshops, here students was separated into groups and had dissuasions on various things through the term. Whether it would be peer reviews on each other’s papers or discussions of class goals, each student had the opportunity to give their input and receive other people’s on their own work. This is an example of one of my discussions and some replies to it.

My Post

“I believe that I am good at communicating through writing; I have done fairly well on just about all of my college as well as high school papers and other writing assignments. Others often tell me that I state my points and ideas clearly in my writing, to the point where it is easy to understand. I believe that this also translates into oral communication, especially in a preplanned speech or presentation. This term I think there will definitely be plenty of opportunities to improve communication through writing, whether it is an essay, e-portfolio or the discussion and blog posts. These assignments are writing intensive and are based on communication through writing. I don’t see many options for improvement in communication through speech, graphics, numeracy, etc. This is expected however in an online course. I would like to improve on working in groups this term, although it is a bit hard to accomplish this in this online course, nevertheless it is a very important trait to have and I am starting to see that just about every job or internship values people who have good communication skills, especially in the field of group work.”

“Suggestions (Ground Rules):

1)   Good posts should contain clearly stated ideas; they should be easy to follow.

2)   Each member of the group must post and reply on time, to not hold back other members from completing the assignment.

3)   Feedback should be valid and constructive, not made up because it was a requirement.

4)   Posts should not be deemed incorrect because of contradictory beliefs.”


“Hi Svyatoslav,

I envy you when it comes to writing, because it is one of my weaknesses. This is one of the main reasons why I chose to take this course online. I feel like it could benefit me.

I agree with you that everyone should post and reply on time. It really is unfortunate if other people can’t complete their own assignments, if we don’t have posts to comment on. I think that is an extremely good ground rule. And I agree that posts should be seen as incorrect. Because a person’s post is a person’ idea, and it’s their thoughts.”

Role Improved

            I have definitely improved my role as a reviewer of people’s papers. In the past I tended to simply correct the grammar mistakes that people made and point out sentences that don’t make sense. This term however I realized that although important, most of the grammar mistakes could be corrected by simply rereading the paper a day or two after writing it or running it through a spelling and grammar checker. In the peer reviews do on the Looking into the Mirror paper I decide to focus more on content and if the paper flowed, versus simple grammar mistakes. I believe this is far more useful. Here is an example of a part of a peer review I did this term.

“…The paper has an intro, body and conclusion. The introduction could be a bit more organized, I would try my best to use that paragraph to summarize the information and arguments that you are going to present, and this way the reader knows what they should expect to hear. The body could also use some work on continuity, I find that some of your paragraphs seem incomplete, lacking a good intro or conclusion; some paragraphs should just be part of the previous ones. Try to introduce the subject of each paragraph sufficiently and at the end of each paragraph, maybe hint at what you will talk about in the next one, but only in the next paragraph provide a full intro to that subject….”

Application of Skills

I will be able to focus my improved skills in my professional life; I believe that as an engineer I will definitely have to communicate with other people virtually whether it would be through email or online forums or other online communication methods. Engineering in particular is a very group work heavy field so I will definitely be taking these skills that I have described further in life with me.

Villainous Russians

Svyatoslav Zhuchenya

Popular Culture

Sophomore Inquiry

May 15, 2015

Looking in the Mirror Blog Post

Used for entertainment, expression, communication and many other purposes; popular culture artifacts are all around and in many different forms. Although something that has the simple purpose of entertaining someone might seem insignificant and harmless, pop culture artifacts such as movies and TV shows have a great power in influencing the way society thinks about and sees certain identities and groups of people. Often in pop culture, an identity can be misrepresented and incorrectly portrayed. This can be offensive to some and may even have negative impacts on people that associate with that group. An example of such a case is the portrayal of Russians and Slavic people in general, in movies and TV shows. More often than not, Russians in movies take on the role of a hardcore villain, corrupt politician or just a frightening expressionless individual. These portrayals are often inaccurate and pertain to if any at all, a small amount of Slavic people.

In January of 2013, comedian Dan Soder did a stand-up comedy skit on the Conan O’Brien show. Towards the end of the skit, Soder describes to the audience that he is from New York City and he often fears being mugged at night. As part of the skit he states that he has found a solution on how to overcome his fear; he imitates a Russian accent. He underlines that this method works because “…Russians are the scariest White people, they’ve earned it…” (Soder). The comedian goes on to describe that faking the accent brings the enemy fear and he then is protected. After his statement, Soder then proceeds to take character of a Russian person encountering two dangerous individuals in the street. During his role-play, he deepens his voice, obtains an expressionless look and gives his character a thick Russian accent. In this skit, Russians are portrayed as frightening and hardcore, this seems to be a trend in many other forms of entertainment.

A Good Day to Die Hard

A Good Day to Die Hard (Russian villain)

Another popular culture artifact, in which Russians are portrayed in, is the latest film in the “Die Hard” franchise, “A Good Day to Die Hard”. In the film, the main character, John Mcclane travels to Russia to help out his son who happens to get into some trouble. There the main character encounters many different Russian people, from a simple taxi driver to hardcore criminals to corrupt politicians. Early in the movie there is a traffic scene, the drivers in what was portrayed to be Russia, are seen as being very aggressive and violent drivers. There are multiple car collisions as well as drivers yelling at one another. The majority of the Russians he later encounters are either hardcore and violent criminals or corrupt politicians that are somehow tied to the criminals for political gain. Towards the end of the movie, it turns out that the Russian villains are attached to dealing weapons grade uranium and the dealing is directly tied to the Soviet Union and the Cold War. In fact, Russians and nuclear weapons seems to be a major tread in modern movies as well.

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol (Russian villain with nuclear launch suitcase)

A film example in which Russians are portrayed as being associated or having ties to nuclear weapons is “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”. In this movie, the main character is a secret agent is trying to stop corrupt Russian politicians for obtaining nuclear launches codes and bombing the United States. As with the “Die Hard” film, there are very similar portrayals of Russians in this film that follow the treads that were mentioned earlier. The Russians have mean expressionless looks on their faces; they all seem very violent and corrupt and tend to take on villainous roles in the films.

During the research of the pop culture artifacts, it is evident that there are certain patterns that are present. The first one is the fact that many of the Russian roles that are in the movies or TV shows are played by non-Slavic actors. This is evident through the extreme accents that the actors have when attempting to act out the character speaking Russian. Even when the actors are speaking English and are simulating a Russian accent, it is still evident that the accents are not authentic. The actors may be very good at faking an accent and it might make for a great movie character or a funny skit, but the accents do not sound like what real Russian accents are like. This fact might be one of the sources for the incorrect portrayal of the Slavic people. As a result of actors having very little experience with Russian culture, one could assume that their inspiration for their roles comes form other popular culture artifacts that too are prone to inaccurate depictions.

Due to the fact that I myself am a Slavic person, originally from Ukraine. I have many interactions with Russians and other Slavic people on a day-to-day basis. I have experience in knowing many Slavic people from many different ages and groups. The way Russians are portrayed in films is simply incorrect for the majority of the Slavic community. Most likely there are still corrupt politicians and criminals in Russia as in many countries around the world, and it is evident that there certainly were in the Soviet Union. However, to generalize Russians and other Slavic people as “scary” expressionless, hardcore individuals is simply inaccurate. These portrayals of Slavic people seem to be a trend or a pattern in many pop culture artifacts; this indicates that there is most likely a source for these misconceptions.

A BBC article, titled “Hollywood Stereotypes: Why are Russians the Bad Guys?” discusses the outstanding trend of Russians being the villains in many of the modern movies. The article underlines some possibilities of why this is happening and what the sources of it might be. It is motioned that one possible reason for the portrayals of Russians in this light is the former and ongoing tensions between Russia or the former Soviet Union and Western countries such as the United States. The article makes the interesting point that it has not always been Russians that are in the spotlight for villain roles but other races and nationalities as well. During World War II there was a trend in movie villains being German due to the obvious tensions between Germany and the allied forces.

Although, the portrayals of Russians and Slavic people is inaccurate from the point of view of what I have experienced living immersed in the Slavic community, it does not make me somehow upset. I do see the potential of these trends harming the image of the Slavic community or perhaps making someone upset but it has not really been one of my concerns. However, one thing that I do not understand is why it is okay to make fun of or vilify Russians or any other nationality for that matter but it is not okay to do so to other groups such as African Americans, women or some religious groups. If it is not okay to misrepresent one group of people, then what makes it okay to do so to another? The question that should be asked is not whom we can use for entertainment and whom we can’t, but should we use inaccurate representations or stereotypes of identities at all, in pop culture?

Works Cited

A Good Day to Die Hard. Dir. John Moore. Perf. Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney. 20th          Century Fox, 2013. DVD.

Brook, Tom. “Hollywood Stereotypes: Why Are Russians the Bad Guys?” BBC. N.p., 5 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 May 2015.

“Dan Soder Stand-Up 04/15/14.” YouTube. Team Coco, 16 Apr. 2014. Web. 01 June 2015.

Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Dir. Brad Bird. Perf. Tom Cruise, J. J. Abrams, Bryan Burk. Paramount Pictures, 2011. DVD.