Why does Javhlan love Big Brother?

January 31, 2008

What a weird music video. It’s about the Eternal Friendship of Russia and Mongolia — still a big hit today! Ahan dvvsiin duu means “big brother little brother song.” Javhlan (the young dude) is our biggest star. If you listen to it, “oros” means russian and “Moskvagiin tsetserlegees” means “We come from a Russian kindergarten” (I think).

My USSR-born friends have asked me some interesting questions about Mongolia’s relationship with Russia. Like, “Does Mongolia still really love Russia that much?”

Well, no. As my copy-machine-shop friend Zulaa told me, “Amerikand hairtai, Orosond dund zereg durtai. Hyatadand uzen yaddag.” (We love the Americans, we medium-like the Russians, and we frickin’ hate the Chinese.)

I mean, what have Russians done for Mongolia lately? Nothing. According to Youtube comments — “The Russians were damn thieves and they’re still grabbing our treasures from our mines.” “If Javhlan didn’t sing this, it would never play so much on TV.”

But the video just shows you how deeply years and years of Soviet propaganda wormed into Mongolians’ heads. Now those songs and brotherhood images have become part of Mongolia’s cultural vocabulary. People will happily belt out the familiar “little brother” song, even though they only kinda like the Russians.

I think a good analogy would be the way Americans see the 1950’s. Some people want to bring the USA back to the 50’s, just like some Mongolians wish they could go back to Russian domination. In both cases they’re the minority. Still, practically all Americans enjoy 50’s diners and oldies music. Putting footage of Lenin parades on TV is the Mongolian equivalent of showing girls in poodle skirts doing the twist.

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4 Responses to “Why does Javhlan love Big Brother?”

  1. Ainur Says:

    Hi Sarah! Thank you so much for your fantastic blog.

    I discovered it today while searching for an explanation for this video – and your 1950’s nostalgia analogy is spot on, I think!
    This will sound weird but I and my sister keep a silly little blog about hot Central Asian men (in the widest possible sense of the words): http://chirayliq.blogspot.com/
    I quoted you in the latest post about Javhlan. We’re just two vaguely North-East European persons with far too much free time (apparently). I haven’t travelled much in Asia (except Japan) but my sister has been to Mongolia. I envy you your experience, it is a treasure. Especially discovering the traces of the past and how it shapes people, which you show very well in your articles. I loved the ones about the dictators’ daughters!
    I’ll be checking back again, keep up the good work! =)

  2. Temur Says:

    “Tertee Moskvagiin tsetserlegees Orosyn hus duulna
    Tergel sartai dornoos orgen Sibir duulna”
    – The Russian birch sings from a Moscow park
    Wide Siberia sings from the East where there is full moon

  3. temur Says:

    Javkhlan is from Uvs which is the reddest aimag in MGL. The MPRP gets 80-90% of votes there. Almost every Uvs person is proud that both Tsedenbal (ruled Mongolia during 1953-1981)and Batmunkh (ruled Mongolia in 1981 – 1990)are from Uvs aimag.

  4. yan Says:

    I think there is a much cooler version with a female background choir. Or maybe I just did not watch this video long enough.

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