Why Americans are “stupid,” according to Russians

US residents are subjects of everyday Russian jokes. Photo:  istochnik-rassveta.dn.ua 


Article by: Olena Makarenko

The word “Americans” appears in everyday Russian conversations more often than Americans themselves would imagine. And the tone of these conversations is typically negative.

At the end of April 2016, the Russian sociologist Denis Volkov published an article with the headline “Why we do not like America.” According to opinion polls conducted by the Levada think tank, the peak of anti-western sentiment observed in 2015 had already passed. In that period, the attitude of 81% of Russians towards the United States was negative, 71% was also negative towards the European Union. Recent data has shown that it has declined to 64% and 60% towards the USA and EU respectively. According to the data, the United States has been at the top of the list of Russia’s enemies since 2008, sharing first place with the ISIS(!).

Russian analysts from the above mentioned think tank described how anti-USA opinion has developed in Russia:

Early 1990: Sympathy and hopes for cooperation with the USA.

1993: Attitudes towards the USA harden. As a result of the Russian economic crisis, the gap in the two countries’ standard of living becomes ever more apparent. Also, differences in opinions on international politics become clear.

1996-1999: Negative attitude towards the USA increases.

2008: USA heads list of Russian enemies (35% of respondent opinion).2014: proportion of people who consider USA as the no.1 enemy rises to 65%.

Since 2000, Russian authorities have deliberately employed anti-Western sentiment to find justification for events which are happening in the world.

The analysts placed a major part of responsibility in making the trend become nation-wide on the media:

“The views which a person receive from media are absorbed automatically as they are. In the future, they can be reproduced during the life of a viewer and even passed to new generations. In other words, much of what is reported by TV is accepted uncritically by the majority of the population. And the more monotonous and primitive are subjects of TV news, the better they are digested. If in 1990s some TV programs could be balanced by others, during the ‘cleansing‘ of information space in the 2000s, Russian media became more uniform, which eased the task of forming the desired to for authorities public opinion.”

Russian media predicted the collapse of the USA during the farmers' protests in Oregon. Its messaging for the events was similar to those which is employed to describe the Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine.

Russian media predicted the collapse of the USA during the farmers’ protests in Oregon. Its messaging for the events was similar to those which is employed to describe the Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine.

Russian media are carefully following events in the USA and don’t waste a chance to present their opponents in the most sinister light. For example, in the Russian informational field there is a widespread conspiracy theory according to which the 9/11 tragedy in fact was caused by the USA. Also, Russian media were attentively focused on covering Oregon farmers protests in winter 2016. According to them, this event was a starting point for the collapse of the USA. Reading the headlines about USA in Russian newspapers and sites makes one feel that we are in the middle of the Cold War.

So what exactly Russians do not like about Americans?

The natural guardians of the truth”

Often Slavic pagan beliefs are integrated into Russian propaganda concepts  Photo: liveinternet.ru

Often Slavic pagan beliefs are integrated into Russian propaganda concepts  Photo: liveinternet.ru

Designating an enemy is a way to explain the huge gap created by their own imperialistic ambitions and faith in Russian national superiority  versus the plummeting  living conditions and the increasing half-century delay in technology development. After all, there has to be someone whom to blame that the nation with such a “big soul” (as Russians see themselves) is forever lagging behind in all areas of quality of life?

The “big Russian soul” is an argument against any success of the others. Supposedly, technical progress in any field means nothing comparing to it.

Popular Russian comedian Mikhail Zadornov whose work is described below expresses an opinion which is common among Russian pseudo-scientists and philosophers:

“It is the female part of the hemisphere. People who speak Russian or Slavic languages have a thicker female, intuitive, non-rational part of the brain. And people who think in Western languages, they have a more developed rational brain. West developed the rational brain, and Western languages ​​are very rational … we have a language to express the feelings and the natural feelings, but it is not for business.

Therefore we can not say that we are backward. We are the keepers of the natural truth.

And Orthodoxy  does not use Latin for prayers, because Latin is a stump of the Old Slavonic language, specifically invented for uttering prayers.”

If, according to Zadornov and others, Russians are so deep and close to nature, that means that Americans are just incomparably stupid.

Why Americans are “stupid”

From harmless jokes about USA and Americans, the official media transitioned to hatred and positioned the country in the public's eye as Russia's #1 enemy. Photo: intersectionproject.eu

From harmless jokes about USA and Americans, the official media transitioned to hatred and positioned the country in the public’s eye as Russia’s #1 enemy. Photo: intersectionproject.eu

It is likely that deep inside the Russians realize the contrast in living conditions between the two countries. However, to recognize it outwardly would mean that there will be no one to blame for their problems. So, this recognition appears in a form of finding weaknesses (as presented by Russians) of the competitor (because there always has to be one).

“Who is smarter: Americans or Russians?” is the question in popular Russian web service otvet.mail.ru. You can find following answers there:

  • “We [Russians] are not smarter, we are wiser and quick witted.”
  • “Comparing to Russians, Americans are more simple-minded. They even write on pouches with milk “Open here” and “open from the other side”.
  • “My friend went to America and send me aletter that they start to learn the multiplication table only in 7th grade. Americans are stupid!!!”

“Americans are stupid” is a trend in Russia. And when you want to have more detailed explanation on the subject, better watch a performance by Mihail Zadornov.

The trend father

Mykhail Zadornov made his career by making fun at Americans. Photo: kino-gif.com

Mykhail Zadornov made his career by making fun at Americans. Photo: kino-gif.com

By far, Mykail Zadornov is not the only contributor to the trend about “stupid Americans.” However, he made his career of satirist on making fun of Americans. Russians needed a reason to be proud of themselves and he gave it to them by praising the “big Russian soul” and demonstrating the enemy’s “stupidity.” Zadornov exploits Russian chauvinism. That is what made him so popular.

In the 1990s he, following the popular liberal trends in Russia at the time, advocated democracy. To describe the level of his popularity in Russia it is worth to mention a single fact: on the 31st of December, 1991 at 23:45 it was him, not the Russian president who congratulated the country with the New Year in a traditional televised speech.

More than 10 years later his pro-democratic comedy routine changed, as well as his views. Now he, the one who laughed at the Soviet Union and dictatorship in the late 90s, is a strong supporter of Communism and calls to vote for the party in the elections.

A huge part of his satirical works are devoted to “stupid Americans”. These performances gather full houses and are broadcast at major Russian TV channels. He sometimes tries to justify his parody by saying that he did not mean to say that Americans are stupid, he just wanted to show that Russians become stupid when they try to copy Americans. Nevertheless, even if his intentions were sincere, it is not what his viewers take away after his perfomances. Most often he speaks about routine everyday situations:

“People started to come to me at the streets and say “You are right, they [Americans] are so stupid. I say “Are you telling me?!

“You can’t imagine how many letters I receive. It is so interesting to read letters from people who visited America [the USA]. Two young men stopped me in the street and said that they used to be interns in America and told me about the situation when they fried potatos in a dormitory and Americans asked:

  • Why are you frying potatos, can’t you just buy them?
  • Because it is cheaper.
  • But how do you know when they are ready?”

At this point the audience starts to laugh and Zadornov interrupts the narrative by his famous phrase “They [Americans] are soooo stupid”. The audience laughs again. And he goes on “The Russians guys did not answer the Americans that they are stupid, but said instead: We check them with a fork.’ However, after the potatos they started to cook eggs… Do you know what I find great? That Russia is on the right course. Why should we laugh at the Chukchi? [Soviet jokes would often portray the Chukchi, a native northern people of Siberia, as stupid — Ed.] Another thing is the American way of life. It’s the way of life, not the Americans. The Americans are kind. They think that they should kindly destroy Iraq. They are confident that Jesus taught that when you were slapped at the right cheek, you should turn the left one and hit from below with an uppercut. They are really kind, but not educated enough. And it is very easy to lead a person who is not educated enough in any direction.”

These jokes might seem silly and harmless, however they find positive feedback among the Russian audience. The education system, the way how things are organized, the manuals for ovens – America is presented as another world, where everything is stupid. So what, one might ask?

The thing is that these jokes get transformed into real actions when serious questions are on the agenda. Russian media outlets present the world to a national viewer in a bipolar way, where Russia is in a fight against the West headed by the USA and specifically against the NATO. The West is shown as the main cause of the world destabilization. So, when there is a need to use military hardware against Ukraine, it happens with a silent approval of the multi-million Russian audience which is confident that this war is against the West and the “stupid Americans.”


Edited by: A.N.

Dear readers! Since you’ ve made it to this point, we have a favor to ask. Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine is ongoing, but major news agencies have gone away, which is why it's extra important to provide news about Ukraine in English. We are a small independent journalist team on a shoestring budget, have no political or state affiliation, and depend on our readers to keep going (using the chanсe - a big thank you to our generous supporters, we couldn't make it without you.)  If you like what you see, please help keep us online with a donation

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  1. Avatar Kruton says:

    Surrender Bolshevik savages or be obliterated! We will burn the wax dummy in Lenins shack!

  2. Avatar Kruton says:

    Stalin shot his wife in the face!

    1. Avatar tarawabrat says:

      Bill Clinton stabbed his girlfriend in the face with his penis!

  3. Avatar danram says:

    Someone needs to point out to everyday Russians that practically everything that they now use in their everyday lives was invented in America by Americans:

    The Internet
    Smart Phones
    Air Conditioning …

    I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea. For such a “stupid” nation, we sure do seem to come up with a lot of great ideas, don’t we?

    Now, let’s review what Russia has given to the world: Caviar and the AK-47. That’s about it.

    The fact is that Russians have a massive inferiority complex when it comes to America … and for good reason.

    Stupid katsaps. We laugh at you all.

    1. Avatar tarawabrat says:

      Really? Russians invented theaters? Is it maybe possible that theaters were invented in many different places at different times? As for spaceships, those were invented by Jules Verne and helicopters were invented by Igor Sikorski who was an American, lol.

    2. Avatar Alex George says:

      Actually these days foreign caviar is better than the Russian.

    3. Avatar Alex George says:

      Theatre in all its forms existed in Europe before Muscovy existed.

      Russians were just one among many nations involved in developing the helicopter and not even the main one: Argentinians, French, Italians, Slovenians, US, Scandinavians and others all played a role.

      And sorry but for every Tchaikovsky, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, there are scores if not hundreds of composers, authors and playwrights in other countries.

    4. Avatar mia says:

      Dear. No one has an inferiority complex when it comes to America. But you just keep clicking your heels together saying, “we’re number one”. With no universal healthcare, no ensured living wage for workers, and everyone on food stamps while your 1percent just keep getting richer, you need to know that we do feel sorry for you. You can’t help it if you have such a poor education system, and such mass manipulation by your government and media. America is a scary place. You have to be afraid to get sick or old if you are an American.

      1. Avatar Alex George says:

        And yet in spite of that, living conditions in USA are far, far better than in Russia.

        And of course USA is not the only western country. In all of them, living conditions are far better than in primitive squalid Russia.

  4. Avatar tarawabrat says:

    Someone needs to explain to Russians that frying potatoes in a dormitory is nye kulturny. Grease gets spattered on the stove, counter and cabinets, it fouls the air and is rude if you haven’t prepared enough for everyone who might be a little drunk and developing an appetite. That’s why you but fried potatoes from Burger King or McDonalds in America unless you’re living in your own house or apartment and cooking for children.

  5. Avatar Alex George says:

    “It is likely that deep inside the Russians realize the contrast in living conditions between the two countries. However, to recognize it outwardly would mean that there will be no one to blame for their problems.”

    Well there would be still someone to blame, but its never easy to blame oneself.

    1. Avatar mia says:

      Contrast in living conditions. That’s amusing. America is the only developed nation in the world without universal healthcare. You don’t ensure a living wage for workers, and you have pathetic social programs. You live in an Oligarchy. You clearly know nothing about yourself, or Russia. As you say; it’s never easy to blame oneself.

      1. Avatar Alex George says:

        So you admit that US is the only developed nation without healthcare – where does that leave Russia, where healthcare exists in name only?

        And you are dodging the point in the article of course – the contrast in living conditions between russia where people live in squalor with short life spans, and any western country where life is far better.

  6. Avatar Murf says:

    Russia’s think Americans are stupid?
    Funny most Americans don’t give Russians a second thought.
    If we did it is probably as drunken wife beaters or tattooed skin head Mafia types.
    But mostly we just don’t care.
    Which probably hurts them more than anything.

    1. Avatar Thomas Zöllner says:

      You’re assuming that people care what Americans think about them. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong.

      1. Avatar Alex George says:

        He’s not assuming anything of the sort

        But hte fact is that Russians obsess about what all westerners think about them.

      2. Avatar InvestigateThreeEleven says:

        And Americans could care less what you think of them, as they’re the strongest country the world has ever seen.

  7. Avatar Kassie Lanzarotta says:

    Americans are only about as smart as Russians. They are not a bunch of befuddled drunks like the Russian people, but the crystal meth makes up for that. Both peoples are incredibly stupid and unpleasant. Not that other countries are any better, but they don’t have nukes.

    1. Avatar InvestigateThreeEleven says:

      You do realize that meth users make up less than 0.1% of the population, while over 20% of the Russian population has an issue with alcohol?

  8. Avatar Draco2023 says:

    Trump is President.
    Clinton was runner up.
    Big pharma is robbing us blind.
    The Kardashians are famous.
    Most of our taxes are spent causing problems in sovereign countries.
    Most do not know how to use words like there, their, they’re, your, you’re, etc. in a sentence.
    Many cannot grasp simple math concepts.
    I could go on and on, but to sum it up……..

    Yes, the majority of Americans are stupid.

    1. Avatar MichaelA says:

      Not the majority – just you

      1. Avatar Draco2023 says:

        That the best you got? At least I gave you a valid argument.
        Oh, I know…you’re stupid. Here’s your sign.

  9. Avatar Diana says:

    Rather be considered stupid than corrupt.

    1. Avatar mia says:

      Dear. You are corrupt. That’s why your congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard currently has a bill before congress that seeks to stop Washington’s funding of terrorists in other countries ( Washington’s usual method of destabilizing other countries to further the interests of your Oligarchy). You are the most lied to and manipulated people on the planet. Only you don’t even know it. You people deserve better. Wake up

      1. Avatar Alex George says:

        Why should they wake up to a call from a cheap Russian troll like yourself?

        Russia is totally corrupt. Far more so than any other nation on earth . Sorry if the truth hurts you, but that’s the way it is.

  10. Avatar mia says:

    I’m a Canadian. In the interests of expanding the limited American view of the world, and perhaps dismantling some of the American ‘exceptionalism’ that blights your country, and results in the US being viewed as the ‘evil nation, your ink would have been better spent discussing American propaganda. America; you are the brunt of jokes about your stupidity. Not without reason. Get over it. Maybe instead of clicking your red shoes together and repeating ‘we’re number one’, maybe look at making a change?

    1. Avatar Alex George says:

      Sure you are Canadian…. ;o)

      Nice try Misha. You clearly don’t know anything about USA, Canada or Ukraine.

      1. Avatar mia says:

        You must be in Alberta; only province I know of that is so gung ho America and thinks similarly, ( or not thinks as it were).

        1. Avatar Alex George says:

          I am sure that Alberta is the only Canadian province that you know of.

      2. Avatar mia says:

        Actually, I clearly know a lot more than you do. I am, my dear, very well read.

        1. Avatar Alex George says:

          I have no doubt about that, as Russian trolls spend a great deal of time browsing the internet for background information.

    2. Avatar gmab says:

      The only country who brainwashed their sheep into believing Naziis rule Ukraine, is the biggist Nazzi of them all, Russia. You are likely a Russki, & don’t live in Canada, an ally of the US. Americans aren’t stupid enough to vote in the same mass murderer every election. They also have rights, freedoms, a choice of media, a higher wage and standard of living than the majority of Ruskis. You like pretending to be Americans in all you do in Moscow but the maniac in the Kremlin has convinced you to return to the ideology that ultimately drives your country into deeper despair year after year. Russians have no future, just the past fake glory. Feel sorry for you.

      1. Avatar mia says:

        Yes dear. Any dissent against ‘merica must come fromRusdian trolls or something. Get real.

        1. Avatar Alex George says:

          No, the reason she is saying this is because Russian trolls are easy to spot. Their ignorance and lack of education betrays them. Lets face it, internet trolling doesn’t pay much even by Russian standards. It doesn’t attract a high standard of applicant.

        1. Avatar gmab says:

          They just let you out, so soon?

      2. Avatar mia says:

        And this notion is based on… what?

        Robin Williams had it right: he said Canada was like a really nice apartment with a meth lab below it. You are not as well loved by Canadians as you fondly like to imagine.

        And no one wants to be like Americans.
        No universal healthcare, no guaranteed decent living wage for workers, tax money going to support over 900 military bases worldwide and a grotesquely bloated military budget, and afraid to get old, or sick. Great country you got there alright.

        1. Avatar Alex George says:

          Yes, your information about Canada comes from Robin Williams quotes, we get it.

          I am sorry to break it to you, but people who live in western countries know exactly how good life is here, and have no interest whatsoever in Russia. That is just confirmed by the large numbers of Russians getting out of Russia and moving to the west as fast as they can.

    3. Avatar InvestigateThreeEleven says:

      Lol, you’re not a Canadian, and I know it. I’m from Canada and know a Canadian when I see one.

      1. Avatar mia says:

        Then ‘Dude’ you must be one of the few uneducated Canadians living a limited existence, watching lots of American tv on satellite and reading very little. Might I suggest William Blum, or Noam Chomsky. Worth a read. Eye opening. Mind expanding.

        1. Avatar Alex George says:

          You know you are proving his point every time you type?

  11. Avatar Den lee roy says:

    Russians were isolated from the civilization for 70 years, they were hit with propaganda of lies and hate against the whole world for almost 100 years by the kremln dictatorship, that made these people uneducated, lost, angry and jealous , the funny thing is that fascist comedian zadornov got sick and moved to the West to get medical treatment, another thing is that russians are totally blind when it comes to politics, their dictator putin is not only dumb and deceitful , but he has a serious mental condition, we should make sure russia is politically and economically isolated until it stops being a fascist country and becomes a civilized country, even though it will take many decades

  12. Avatar Den lee roy says:

    many third world countries have a higher living standard than russia, a mid salary of a russian college graduate is about 250$ a month when people in Dominican Republic make 450$ a month, not to mention prices for food and housing are 4 times less there than in russia

  13. Avatar InvestigateThreeEleven says:

    Is that why the U.S has a higher average I.Q than Russia? Lol, and take out the African-Americans and non-English speaking Latinos and the U.S would be more than 10 points higher. Multiplication table in the 7th grade? Uh, do foreigners not realize that each city has a different school system? Some may learn the table in the 3rd grade, and some may learn it in the 7th grade. The “open here” thing is typically for people that do not speak English, which is nearly half of the U.S population.

  14. Avatar Everyoneisintrouble says:

    Oh and I learned multiplication in 2nd grade. By the time I was in college I didn’t have to actually take math because I tested out of it. That means BEFORE college I had already completed Calculus.

  15. Avatar Archerbald says:

    “Russian media are carefully following events in the USA and don’t waste a
    chance to present their opponents in the most sinister light.”

    That’s hilarious. Replace the word “Russian” with “US” and the word USA with Russia, and you will be spot-on.

    I am a South African, a third-party observer. My opinion is far more balanced than any American or Russian.

    And I can tell you, America, loves, to make every other nation seem uncivilized, barbaric, and draconian, so that they can appeal to their citizens as a means to pretend like they’re living that false American Dream. So that they can convince their dumb citizens that invading dozens of countries to “spread democracy, curb terrorism, and introduce freedom” is within the best interests of their tax money, and murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent people, is justified.

    There’s no easy way to say it. Americans, are cockroaches. They’ve proven this a long time ago, when they savagely murdered hundreds of millions of Red Indians…oops, check that, “Native Americans” – and then blamed it on Smallpox. Savage murdering lunatics.