Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Schnappi vs Madonna..by Thomas

I remember the story an Italian friend told me after a visit in USA. He had a discussion with an american father that went kind of like this...
Father: and do you have cars in Italy or you still have horses?
Alberto: yes of course we have cars
Father: you have washing machines?
Alberto: yes (wondering why these questions)
Father: oh and your roads, are they in dirt or tar
Alberto:(really annoyed) MAAAAAAAAAAAAHH! where do you think we drive our ferraris!!

Being a multicultural country, I always wonder if these stories (and I heard so many) about USA were just jokes. Then I came to USA, and I noticed something that was really surprising to me, when you rent a movie (or even listen to the radio), you can find mainly if not only american movies or songs. The foreign movie section is generally very small. Where are all the great foreign movies?? Yes there will be movies like La vita e bella or goodbye lenin, but in general not a wide collection as I could have found is all the countries I visited around the world. I will even hear foreign songs translated in english...(99luftballon =99 red balloons). And suddenly this multicultural society seems not so multicultural.

Movies and music being arts are the main vehicles for culture. Having a hard time finding them in USA, would that explain why so many americans are so naively curious whenever they get to talk to foreigners? I got lucky, so far no one asked me where my beret was or if we had cars, but I surely have to confirm that we do indeed have fireworks in France (havent you seen the Eiffel tower?)


At March 07, 2006, Blogger Expat Traveler said...

Hey Thomas - great observation! I totally noticed that while I was in France that they translate great songs into French. I totally enjoyed that and missed it so much when I moved to Canada. I actually went through radio withdrawl! I missed the American music which was translated and remixed into French. It was incredible.

And I love foreign movies. Yes they are very hard to come by here (Canada) and the states. The selection just sucks! So true - and I don't think I would have thought that unless you brought it up. I mean I knew that because I just told you the selection sucks, but I just never thought further about it.

And the Eiffel tower - yes I've seen it on Bastille Day! It's incredible. I was awed by the blinking lights and fireworks and the patriotism and how many people go to see them!

As for why american's aren't so multicultural? I'm stumped, but you are right many people are indeed a bit naive when it comes to knowing about the rest of the world, unless you are well travelled.

I knew someone who once told me about the lady in Alabama who thought you could take Greyhound to Switzerland!

At March 07, 2006, Blogger Deb said...

There is a huge cultural difference between the US and Europe mainly due to the fact (I think) that the US is a younger country.

When it comes to foreign movies and music (especially if they are European), there is no way Americans can really relate. I have seen some foreign films, and I feel like there is just no connection for me. The reason why some countries find American music and movies so interesting, is that it is so modern and different. Also, English is considered the universal language and more people are wanting to learn the language.

It's understandable (not excusable) that an American might ask strange questions to a foreigner. Some of the "stereotypes" we have heard have proven to be true in some cases.

In France, I have learned that not everything is a necessity as it is in the US. When we lived in Grenoble, our apt. complex had a washer, but no dryer because our building was so old there was no hook-up for it. So I dried our clothes the old fashioned way, on the balcony! Needless to say, we didn't have hook-up for a dishwasher either. Even though our apartment complex was huge, we didn't have a garage, or even a designated parking space for our car. Most three or more bedroom places only have one bathroom, and some people only have enough hot water in there house to take showers, or run the dishwasher, or do the laundry, but not to do all 3!

Turkish toilets may seem like a thing of the past, but there are still a lot of public restrooms in France that still use them!

Automatic transmission cars are everywhere in the US, but try finding one in France...unless you have a lot of money to spare.

Those type of realities can also be why some Americans ask what may be considered to be inappropriate questions. To some Americans, it still may be a case of Old World vs New World.

At March 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't feel bad, I once had a man from Florida think that Minnesota was part of Canada...when I corrected him, he asked us if we had running water and electricity "up there".

At March 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, that last post was from me, but it's not letting me log in now! (Samdebretagne)

At March 07, 2006, Blogger buzzgirl said...

Thanks for stopping by. I don’t know what got into me last night. I was completely sober! Maybe the horrific rain we’ve been having finally got me down. I’m actually kind of embarrassed by it, but feel it would be a bit of a cop out to take it down. Oh well.

At March 07, 2006, Blogger Expat Traveler said...

D I'd agree with a lot of what you said, however when it comes to the music industry, it's not about what sounds good. It's more about what makes money, what sells the most (sex and hot looking chicks) and what will make american's buy. It has nothing to do with American's thinking it's good or whatever. It's a sad reality and when you go to Europe, you actually find people appreciating music because it sounds good, not just because it was marketed well...

At March 07, 2006, Blogger Kim/Thomas said...

I'm not sure if this will make much sense, and its just my own opinion.

From talking to Thomas it seems that he grew up listening to english music, even though he could not understand what was being said, and to this day will listen to anything and focus on the rhythm or the beat etc..where as I will focus on the words and lyrics. I have quickly learned to fall in love with french music, even if I cannot understand a word they have said, but at first, I was like..awww, what are they saying, he's taught me to listen rather than analyze the song and I've learned to actually appreciate music so much more.

I remember as a kid and my mum listening to her german music, instead of enjoying what came from my heritage, i was embarrassed that it was different and no one could understand it..(well come one, it was the oompa loompa type stuff;)

So many films that I have watched, foreign films, I love the differentness of them, I've noticed that most of our films always end up the same, start the same, have the same meaning, it ends up being so predictable, foreign films, don't always have a happy perfect ending..i kinda like that!

take care and good night:) kim

At March 07, 2006, Blogger Kim/Thomas said...

Well, I am not sure if an american can refer to what is in foreign movie but i dont think that is the point... when I watch a foreign movie, I can see point of views different from my French one... and culture explains a lot about people you interact with.. PLUS you learn how to say cool things... Like if I want kim to just kiss me, I just have to remember IM JULI and say:

Meine Herzallerliebste, ich bin Tausende von Meilen gegangen. Ich habe Flüsse überquert, Berge versetzt. Ich habe gelitten und ich habe Qualen über mich ergehen
lassen. Ich bin der Versuchung widerstanden und ich bin der Sonne gefolgt, um dir gegenüber stehen zu können und um dir zu sagen, dass ich dich liebe

At March 08, 2006, Blogger Anne said...

Interesting post!
I have to say that when I first moved to Poland from the Uk, all my friends were worried that I would have to queue for bread!
They know better now though...:)

At March 08, 2006, Blogger meredith said...

So true, I see a lot of great movies over here in europe and just know my dad would love them. But he can never find them in VO in the USA, only dubbed and a long time after they've come out.

At March 08, 2006, Blogger Riana said...

I know what you mean, my mom asked if we had CAT LITTER the other day, I told her no, I just use dirt. I swear!

I love music in all languages, especially in Chinese, Turkish and Arabic--I have no idea what they are saying, but I love the music :)

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