Useful Notes: Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev: Great man or pathetic destroyer of the Soviet Union? Mikhail Gorbachev (born 2 March 1931) was the last leader of the Soviet Union. Born to peasants, he was the first - and only - leader of the Soviet Union born after the Red October, which had a profound effect on how he governed his country. He joined the CPSU in the days of Nikita Khrushchev, where he was deeply impressed by the efforts to de-Stalinize the USSR. He rose through the ranks rather quickly, using his connections to the party ideologue Mikhail Suslov and a power base in the Komsomol (Communist Youth League). By 1971, he was a member of the Communist Party Central Committee, the highest organ of power in the Soviet Union; at age 40, he was the youngest member of the body. By The '80s, the damage that Leonid Brezhnev's policies had done to the USSR had become painfully clear. The country was stagnating, technology and production were falling behind the United States, and the always-creaking Soviet bureaucracy had become downright sclerotic. None of this was helped by the succession of ancients who succeeded Brezhnev, Andropov and Chernenko; neither lasted long or left Moscow very often (leading to a famous joke about Brezhnev running on batteries and Andropov needing an outlet).note By 1985, the CPSU was clearly sick of the stagnation, and the Central Committee put Gorbachev in charge. He very quickly implemented a number of policies known forever by one-word Russian names:
- Perestroika ([economic] restructuring): Improving quality and efficiency in state-run industries, and experimenting with a limited mixed economy.
- Glasnost (openness): Relaxing controls on the press, allowing (constructive) criticism of the state and encouraging lower-level officials to make their complaints heard.
- Uskoreniye (acceleration): The less-intense predecessor to perestroika.
- Demokratizatsiya (democratization): Increasing democratic controls within the Communist Party (rather than the state as a whole). This one got rather out of hand later on.
- In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Chancellor Gorkon is an Expy of Mikhail Gorbachev. In a case of life imitating art, the movie's plot mirrors the August Coup, which happened after it was written and filmed, though before its release. Unlike Gorbachev, Gorkon is successfully assassinated.
- A similar plotline featuring Gorbachev formed the basis of The Package.
- In Zangief's ending in Street Fighter II, he arrives by helicopter to congratulate the wrestler on scoring a victory for Glorious Mother Russia, then they perform That Russian Squat Dance together.
- In UHF, he is depicted as an upcoming contestant on the fictional show Celebrity Mud Wrestling.
- Appears in some old Cold War-related video games, such as Balance of Power (1985) and Crisis in the Kremlin (1991).
- He also appeared in two unrelated puzzle games, Gorby's Pipeline and Ganbare Gorby. Sure, in the first one he only appears on the title screen, but still.
- Mentioned in a really early Dilbert strip (this one) for the sole purpose of setting up an Incredibly Lame Pun.
- In The Simpsons
- Krusty the clown claims the spot on his head is caused by herpes while doing a standup routine in $pringfield, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling.
- Pays a visit to George H.W. Bush and finds him fighting with Homer. Mikhail is amused by this unheard strife and Bush loses face in front of the Russians.
- In the action prologue of The Naked Gun, he's attending a meeting of America's arch-enemies. Portrayed as a Villain with Good Publicity, Frank Drebin puts Mikhail Gorbachev in a headlock, rubs off his famous "wine stain" birthmark and says "I Knew It".
- Appears in the Epic Rap Battles of History, where he takes on Grigori Rasputin, Josef Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, and Vladimir Putin.
- In Williams Electronics' Taxi pinball, he appears as "Gorby", one of the five passengers to be picked up.
- The game VGA Planets has named the equivalents for the Star Wars Empire of that game -named "The Evil Empire" and including Soviet imaginery evocating the 80s Reagan's speech in which he identified the USSR as an evil empire- of the Death Star as Gorbi and Super Gorbi.