“And I realized at some point that all the bad guys were Russians.”
Things have been a little more tense than usual aboard the International Space Station lately, given the geopolitical crisis that is once again brewing on the ground.
For the most part — barring several bizarre incidents — operations largely went ahead as planned, with American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts working peacefully side by side.
NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who recently spent 355 days aboard the aging orbital outpost before returning to Earth aboard a Russian spacecraft, recently sitting with The Washington Post for an interview probing these questions and more.
On some level, Vande Hei said he sometimes “pokes holes” in the “logic” of cosmonauts, which implies that they sometimes argue over international issues. On the other, however, he said his time at the station had at times forced him to confront American culture’s misrepresentations of the Russian people – and that all came to a head on a movie night.
Stereotypes run deep in Hollywood, which sometimes makes it hard to catch up with the movies on the station’s weekly movie nights.
“I realized at some point that all the bad guys were Russians,” Vande Hei said. WaPo. “It gives me chills even thinking about it because at one point I looked at my cosmonaut teammates and said, ‘How does that make you feel? And they said, “It’s kind of scary how everyone in the United States, mass media in the United States, portrays Russians as bad guys.”
The team adapted by adopting a strategy in which “everyone had their turn to choose a film that they had seen and that they wanted to share with everyone”, recalls Vande Hei.
Another clue to contemporary US-Russian relations on the station: Vande Hei said movie nights were on a “previous flight”, suggesting space travelers from NASA and Roscosmos no longer meet for the weekly ritual.
READ MORE: How this astronaut approached US-Russian relations in space [The Washington Post]
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