American Myths about Russian People
People tend to simplify things they don't understand by creating established views or ideas which later turn into myths. And it is not just the misunderstanding that created many American myths about Russian people. Years of cold war between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. produced myths about military advantage, atomic research and people's hatred that at times simply didn't exist. Now those myths are gone, but there are still some that remain in people's minds.
Russians are lazy
The image of a lazy Russian lad lying on the grass and doing nothing comes from Russian folklore and fairy tales. But this was the common pace of life in a Russian village, where 1 month in spring and 1 month in autumn are the only times full of hard work out in the fields, and the rest of the time is spent for leisure, as there is nothing left to do. So Russian people may be not as businesslike as Americans, but they are definitely not lazy. Throughout their history Russians have been known for putting great effort to restoring their country from ruins after wars and achieving great industrial prosperity.
Russians are drunks
One of the most common American myths, or even worldwide myths, about Russian people is that they drink a lot of alcohol. First of all, Russian people were not hard drinkers throughout all their history. The drinking habits became stronger in the Russian nation after the WWII, when it was a really hard time for the country with a ruined economy and a great need for restoration. During the WWII drinking straight shots of vodka was a common thing in the Russian army, which helped people deal with the difficult stressful situations. However, vodka is not even a Russian drink, as many people may believe. It was invented in Europe and first came to Russia only in the 15th century.
Russia is a country of despotism and bloodshed
Such names as Ivan the Terrible and Stalin have almost become symbols of cruelty of Russian governors. But if you compare Russian history to the history of Europe or the U.S., Russia does not seem so cruel any more. Compare Russian tyrants to Oliver Cromwell from England or Carl IX from France. All of them used cruel, bloody ways to impose their power and will.