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Cold War Cartoons and Commericals That Shaped Our Fear of Russia

 Cold War cartoons Boris Badenov, Natasha Fatale
Cold War cartoons like Bullwinkle shaped our fears of Russia.
Featured above are Boris Badenov and  Natasha Fatale.

Yesterday, CNN reported that Russia has tested its first stealth fighter jet, the fifth-generation Sukhoi. The plane is the country’s first fighter jet based on stealth technology and is reportedly Russian’s answer to the American F-35 and F-22 jets.

Cold War Cartoons

With that in mind, this week’s Saturday Cartoon post features four examples of the Cold War/Anti-Communism culture. These permeated Generation X’s childhood and youth.

Are any of these Cold war cartoons familiar to you? Can you think of other examples of cold war culture?

Rocky and Bullwinkle (1961)

Rocky and Bullwinkle, a favorite among younger Boomers and older Xers, featured Rocky, a squirrel, and Bullwinkle, a moose. The cartoon villains were Boris Badenov (a pun on Boris Godunov) and Natasha Fatale from the fictitious nation of Pottsylvania. Their leaders were the sinister Mr. Big and Fearless leader. In this episode the two inept agents attempt to “take Vashington.”

Roger Ramjet

Roger Ramjet is an animated American children’s television comedy series that first ran in 1965 and has aired in syndication since. Starring Roger Ramjet and the American Eagle Squadron, the show featured Cold War themes including defeating Dr. Ivan Evilkisser.

Cold War Commercials

Wendy’s Hamburgers and the Soviet Fashion Show (1984)

This commerical depicts a large, unattractive Russian woman wearing the same outfit throughout a fashion show. Only her accessories change. (For swimwear she carries a beach ball.) The theme is: “having no choice is no fun.”

Ronald Reagan Bear in the Woods Campaign Commercial (1984)

This campaign ad depicted a brown bear wandering through the woods, and was a metaphor for the Soviet threat. The last line in the ad is “If there is a bear.”

Favorite Cold War Song

Who doesn’t love a good Cold War song or protest song from the 80s? I loved 99 Luftballons and Nikita!

Elton John’s Nikita (1985)

Cold War Cartoons

Nikita Elton John

Nikita by Elton John is my favorite of all. It seems a bit contrived now, but it wasn’t then. At least, not to a college freshman. I recall it was the first time I remember feeling something other than fear in regard to the Russians. In addition, it was this song and video that sparked my interest in Russian literature.

This is purely sidebar, but my first real job out of college was working as a writer in public affairs at a large military installation. This was during the early 1990s. The secretary for the two-star general, a woman named Linda  befriended via ham-radio a Russian named Valari. I wrote the story, which began:

And if there comes a time
Guns and Gates no longer hold you in
And you’re free to make a choice
Just look towards the west and find a friend.

Valari and his wife came to the United States to visit Linda, and I was able to interview him for the story. We were just six years out from the thawing of the Cold War.


Which Cold War cartoons or songs are your favorite?

For another perspective, check out these Cold War family pictures and Russian family photos.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Baloney

    I love those 2 from Pottsylvania! Weird how some things never change. Loved the Washington scene.

  2. jen

    @MELESSA – Wow, all the more important to write these Gen X memoirs. Of course, the boomers and silents have them, too, but our coming of age was framed by the thawing of the cold war. Do you remember that Tony Danza movie about the Berlin Wall? I CRIED!!!!!!!

    @FL CONFETTI – Yes, Samantha. I wanted to be her or at least brave like her. I think it was junkdrawer67 or maybe latchkey man (bloggers) who wrote about Samantha about a year or more ago. She died tragically, I think. Interesting that you were the same age.

  3. FLConfetti

    Remember Samantha Smith writing to Yuri Andropov and the media coverage her visit to Russia got? She and I were the same age, and I remember thinking it was weird that she would want to go “there.” All the concern of her safety, the purpose of the visit, etc. Lots of why questions. I may write about this myself; hadn’t thought about it/her in so long.

  4. Melessa

    The movie White Nights came on cable last weekend. My husband and I watched it for nostalgia’s sake and our 12 year-old watched it with us. I only realized how far we had come when my daughter said “But I don’t get it. Why are they trying to escape to the US?” And I realized she had no concept of the Iron Curtain, the Berlin Wall, or any of the rest of it. We tried to explain it all to her. I’m not sure how well it went.


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