I've always loved jokes about Russia. Stereotypes that describe Russians drinking vodka and kissing bears have always seemed amusing.
Also, I still remember weekend meetings of war vets that my dad loved to arrange. Besides the brave stories about Vietnam they were keen on talk over communist spies and Kremlin plans to drop nukes on our heads. At that time, to me, being a child, these stories were scaring and even disturbing. But then I realized that my old man and his brothers-in-arms didn't really believe in what they were talking about.
That was a sort of the game that never becomes boring, a ghost story which cubs tell to each other sitting over the fire. Today, when I read some news headlines mentioning Russia, I can't shake the feeling that I'm still 11 years old and Mr. Daniels is telling me how to recognize a Soviet agent.
Mysterious and almighty Russian hackers and spies who invade countries and government networks, assassinate people, carry out coups d'etat and sabotages all over the world. This is a new agenda considering Russia, which is actually turned out to be a blast from the past.
Mass media utilize this narrative because it has demand. We are creating the antagonist because without him the hero will soon get bored. But this is no more an innocent joke. The prejudice that every Russian man drinks like a goldfish will only dissuade you from visiting Russia.
The assumption that Moscow is behind the explosion of the ammunition warehouse miles from nowhere in Europe (I hope citizens of Vrbetice will forgive my geographical ignorance) taking into account that Russian spies are ubiquitous is likely to have far-reaching consequences. As a result, we face an absurd situation when the official investigation is far from being finished, no solid evidence is provided, but the diplomatic war has already been unleashed. And that's all based on someone's prejudice that only Russians and nobody else are capable of it.
Following the stereotypes might be very dangerous and sometimes it is a direct way to xenophobia.