American films like "Rambo," "Red Dawn," "Rocky IV" and a proposed television production called "Amerika" showing the United States under Soviet occupation are helping spawn a "pathology of hatred" against their country, leading Soviet cultural figures charged today.
At a press conference on U.S.-Soviet cultural relations, a group headed by a deputy minister of culture accused the U.S. entertainment industry of warping the image of the Soviet people seen by average Americans and fanning anticommunist fanaticism.
"The new hero kills 'reds' and Russians not for money, with a kind of perverse relish," said Deputy Minister Georgi Ivanov. "A new generation of Americans is being brought up to consider killing as something natural or even necessary."
" 'Red Dawn' and 'Rambo' cannot be called artistic, but nevertheless they fill movie screens and television screens," said Genric Borovic, a playwright and journalist who concluded that "such selling of hatred will bring on a sickness."
In the weeks since the Geneva summit between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet officials and the government-controlled press here have shown increasing sensitivity to "anti-Sovietism" in the United States. They also have made frequent references to recent surveys revealing widespread ignorance about Soviet history among the American public.
As the atmosphere surrounding U.S.-Soviet relations has improved, typified by the televised exchange of New Year's greetings between the two leaders, Soviet officials are stressing the importance of overcoming cultural hostility in the West, particularly in America. U.S. officials, on the other hand, have stressed an improvement on human rights as vital to improving popular perceptions of the Soviet Union.
The difference in perceptions highlights the difference in political systems: Soviets never seem fully persuaded that the U.S. government has no role in regulating the American cultural diet.
Meanwhile, the view of the United States seen on Soviet films and television is hardly flattering -- showing a world peopled mostly by CIA agents, the homeless and unemployed minorities. But Soviets note that few, if any, of their films portray Americans as a criminal people.
"We will never, never make such films to create hatred of the American people," film director Stanislav Rostotsky said today. "We will not retaliate."
Today's press conference, while attacking examples of "anti-Soviet hysteria," also stressed new cooperation in the cultural field, which has been increasing since the signing of a cultural and scientific exchanges agreement in Geneva.
A new round of officially sanctioned exchanges, cut off after the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, will begin this weekend when the Empire State Institute for the Performing Arts opens a week-long stay at the Children's Musical Theater here.
The ministry's Ivanov, stressing that he did not want to end the press conference on a "pessimistic note," also mentioned artistic exchanges expected next year, including U.S. tours by Leningrad's Kirov Ballet and the Moiseyev folk dancers.
Soviet poet Yevgeni Yevtushenko, who has made frequent appearances in the United States even during the freeze on official cultural exchanges, also stressed the "beneficial" effects of the mass media, as compared to the "dangerous hypnosis" of what he called "war-nography."
He mentioned such films as "On Golden Pond," "Terms of Endearment" and "ET." "Then our children would finally get to see this 'ET' they have heard so much about," he said.
Yevtushenko, who recently spoke to a writers' congress here urging a loosening of censorship and other controls, urged today that U.S.-Soviet cultural exchanges be handled by artists, not bureaucrats.
Answering a question, Yevtushenko said his speech was in keeping with the ideas he expressed throughout his poetry.
But while Yevtushenko and the other cultural figures stressed the importance of cultural exchanges, they returned repeatedly to complaints about U.S. portrayals of Soviet life and culture.
Rostotsky, the director, described seeing a cartoon of an American boy being chased by a Russian gorilla and remembered going into an American classroom and watching an American girl tremble with fright at the sight of a Russian.
"This is really horrifying if a child thinks this way," he said.
The same subject came up at another press conference last month when Georgi Arbatov, head of the Institute for the Study of the U.S.A. and Canada, also singled out such films as "Rambo" and the proposed production "Amerika" now under consideration at ABC-TV.
Several Soviet officials have registered their protests over the "Amerika" project, which apparently portrays life in the United States at the point of a Soviet gun.