Suffice it to say, things are complicated right now between America and Russia. The massive country has emerged as one of the most important players (and antagonists) in U.S. politics, but most Americans, especially those too young to remember the Cold War, know little about it beyond Putin, Pussy Riot, and probable hacking. Russia doesn't show up at the top of bucket-list destinations, it lacks modern pop culture exports, and the most-watched TV depictions of Russian people right now are on The Americans — a fictional story about Russian spies living in suburban Virginia in the '80s. Are we totally off-base here? And what do they think of us?
We traveled to St. Petersburg in March to get young women's thoughts on U.S.-Russo relationships, and whether they’re optimistic for the future or as cynical as the headlines assume. In the process, we encountered a wide range of viewpoints about our president; our pop culture heroes; and how Trump, the media, and propaganda have contorted what the American Dream, might, and exceptionalism look like on the other side. As for what Americans get wrong about Russians — the women's answers were more likely to include bears than espionage.
Editor's note: The interviews were translated from Russian and edited and condensed.