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Volume 2, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2044-2823
  • E-ISSN: 2044-2831



A ‘rites of passage’ movie set in the USSR of the 1950s, Valery Todorovsky’s film Stilyagi (2008) tells the story of the transformation of the hero Mels from loyal member of the Komsomol to stilyaga. For many critics, Todorovsky’s stilyagi are the very embodiment of anti-conformism. And yet to read the film in this way is to overlook one of its key elements – consumption. For in order to acquire their clothes and other accessories, the stilyagi need money. Zooming in (literally) on the financial transactions that these young people engage in with such astonishing regularity, Todorovsky reminds us that without money, there can be no ‘style’, and consequently, no stilyagi. Seen in this light, the stilyagi are not at all subversive, but in fact highly conformist precursors of today’s post-soviet shoppers. It is this paradox at the heart of the stilyagi and their ‘revolt’ as presented by Todorovsky, which will be the subject of our article.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): extended self; musicals; Russia; social identity; subculture; subversion; USSR
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