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The Student News Site of Hickman High School

Purple and Gold News

The Student News Site of Hickman High School

Purple and Gold News

Animated bonds

How an Americanized children’s show brings connection to Russian-American student

Children’s shows like Winx Club, Pingu, Power Rangers, and Bob the Builder were all Americanized. That’s right, these shows that you grew up with that had characters with American names, voices, and cultural references were originally non-American. Winx Club was created by Italian animator Iginio Straffi. It was among the first Italian series to air in the United States. Pingu was originally Swiss-British, Power Rangers was Japanese, and Bob the Builder was British.


The animated series Masha and the Bear, or rather Ма́ша и Медве́дь, was one of many favorite shows of Ella Kovalenko, but it was more than just entertainment—it was a connection to her Russian heritage.


Ella’s father was born in the Soviet Union, Moscow region of Russia, and her mother is American. Both of her parents have culturally influenced her life in different ways.


“We like to collect nesting dolls, like [the] Matryoshka Nesting dolls that he brought. Sometimes my grandmother sends them over, and we have a lot of them…they’re just nice,” Ella said.


Some cartoons featured typical Russian architecture design such as familiar apartment buildings that Ella’s father could recognize. 


“They kind of reflect what Russia was like when he was living there because I will never understand. I want to, but I can’t because I never lived in the Soviet Union.”


Although Ella was unable to understand the Russian dialogue, she still enjoyed it as she thought of her father’s heritage.


Her father continued to show his side of culture to Ella from displaying cartoons made in the Soviet Union on YouTube to reading Russian children’s books.


“I couldn’t read them, but my dad used to like read them to bed to me [and there were] pictures so I could understand what’s happening through context.”


While Ella’s father listened to Euro-pop with the German band Scorpions and Soviet rock band Nautilus Pompilius, her mother listened to singers like Madonna. 


Some more differing aspects in Ella’s life were food. Her father enjoyed borscht (Russian beet soup) and кефир or kefir (fermented milk). Her grandmother on her mom’s side would make Kentucky Fried Chicken.


“We try a lot of different foods. Like, oh gosh, my dad, he makes kefir which is basically fermented milk. I don’t know if any American[s] would eat it. But it’s interesting,” Ella said.


Ella’s experience as a second-generation Russian-American immigrant and her mixed cultural upbringing shaped her childhood.


With today’s media continuing to strive for diverse representation either by translating or simply broadcasting non-American shows, people like Ella were able to further enjoy feeling connected to their culture.


“I don’t think [Masha and the Bear] was popular or at least translated to English when I was little. So let’s just say I watched that show before it was cool.” 

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    AuggieFeb 28, 2024 at 10:03 am

    Very insightful and interesting! I would love to know more about the different connections Ella had to her Russian heritage later in life.