The Last “Real Men” – The War in Ukraine and Its Media Created Heroes

“On the Barricades” – s04e09

Social media and the constant commercialization imperatives of journalistic discourse have made the public receptive to very simplistic narratives. The war is no exception. The media narrative pushed in the public arena is that of the “real” man—advancing his agenda (Vladimir Putin) or bravely defending his country (Zelensky). As the violent invasion of Ukraine continues, the Romanian public sphere is dominated by narratives in which we have a powerful hero or anti-hero.

In this episode of On the Barricades, Maria Cernat presented some of these narratives, showing how Romanian right-wingers are ready to project onto Vladimir Putin the kind of masculinity they aspire to, displaying a love/hate relationship with the Russian leader, while progressive and liberal circles seem quite taken by the image of Zelensky, the hero that is supposed to save not just Ukraine, but the whole world from the Russians!

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