All the Simpsons headlines, set to Mozart:
A question for the Germans: are these translated in the dubbed version?
All the Simpsons headlines, set to Mozart:
A question for the Germans: are these translated in the dubbed version?
This may not work for Germany, where the Simpsons is dubbed into German* (the horror...), but there's something hilarious, and odd, about this Actor's Studio interview of the Simpsons voice actors (h/t MTW):
We must invent a word for 'the eerie feeling which arises from seeing real humans producing the voices of well-known animated characters or voice-dubbed movie stars.' Germans get many more chances to savor this feeling, since all major stars are always dubbed by the same voice actor (for instance, Nicholas Cage in Germany is spoken by Martin Keßler (g)). Many of these voice actors become stars in their own right. This can lead to the phenomenon of Martin Keßler sounding more like 'Nicholas Cage' to Germans than Nicholas Cage himself ever could.
I get the feeling that German is the most practical language for creating this word. Perhaps Zeichentrickfilmsynchronstimmenwirklichkeitsentfremdung?
I was just watching Die Sendung mit der Maus (The Show with the Mouse) this morning while cleaning house a bit. This is the most famous German childrens' television shows, broadcast every Sunday morning since 1971 on one of the main public-television stations. The star of the show is a pudgy burnt-orange mouse whose eyes click when he blinks them. He plays in silent comic vignettes. Between the vignettes there are real-world reports aimed at children.
As befits a public television station with an educational mission, the reporting segments are pretty matter-of-fact and highlight unflashy subjects like streetcar repair, how to build an Airbus, forestry, construction, jogging, and the like. This time around, to my amusement, the reporter Ralph took the kiddies inside a prison (g). The reporter Ralph, a genial fellow in his 20s with square black glasses, was first led through several big metal doors and fences to get inside the prison. Once inside, he was given a tour of the inmates' cells, the visiting room, meetings with social workers, the telephone area, and a few other places. We observed the nightly ritual of 'Umschluss', in which inmates are allowed to visit their friends' rooms (with the doors locked behind them) for a game of cards or a chat.
We saw an interview with Johnny, a bald 21-year-old serving a three-year sentence, which is long by German standards. Johnny describes his life in prison, tells us that he misses his family most of all, and wishes he had listened to the advice of friends and family, who had told him to clean up his act. When it comes time for Johnny to sweep his cell, the reporter helps. At the end of the interview, Ralph shakes Johnny's hand, wishes him good luck, and expresses a hope that next time, they'll meet in a more pleasant place. They then show him being escorted out of the prison.
A month or so I was at an academic conference, trying to explain German attitudes on criminal punishment to American scholars. I pointed out that state television is still important here, and programming on public channels is controlled by a certain set of guidelines and presumptions. The Show with the Mouse fits right in. There was no ominous music, no 'dramatizations' of the crime, no references to 'predators'. The millions of kids who watched this program saw a prisoner being treated with respect and even warmth by the reporter. The prison was portrayed as a place with strict rules where your freedom is limited, but where you can also socialize, take classes, and greet visitors from the outside world. Above all, it was made clear that all the people in this prison are going to get out within a few years and rejoin society, and this was portrayed as a normal and even good thing.
Of course, this is certainly not the only picture of crime and punishment German children are exposed to as they grow up -- there are tabloid newspapers everywhere in Germany, after all. But the Maus show today at least can act as a counterweight to more exploitative portrayals of crime.
I'm a couple months late linking to this clip, in which the Daily Show's Jason Jones interviews Scott Lively, president of an American lobbying group called Defend the Family. Lively is one of those countless American ideologues who rip isolated facts out of history (especially Germany's history) and use them to cover their prejudices with a spray-on sheen of truthiness.
After literally dozens of minutes of research, Lively returned from the library, panting and out of breath, waving a yellowing news clipping: "There were -- gasp -- gay Nazis!" He quickly attached a tube to this fact and pumped it full of Significance. He even published a book about the results of his research, The Pink Swastika.
In the interview below, Lively calmly explains that homosexuals are violent sadists, which is why Hitler liked them so much. Oh, and Hitler was also gay.
Jones lets Lively ramble on about his cockamamie theories, while the producers illustrate them with a documentary-style voice overs. During one of these "historical interludes", if I may, Jones invents the word Glitzkrieg. Badly needed inventing, if you ask me!
Have fun! (Warning: The image that appears at about 1:00 into this report may haunt your children's children).
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
A while ago, I posted this ad for Mad Men that I saw at a local train station:
The tag line translates: "Behind Every Successful Woman Stands a Man Who's Staring at her Ass." It's the ad campaign for the American television series Mad Men, which has been bought by ZDF Neo (g), a branch of one of Germany's two main public-broadcasting channels.
Now, back when I saw this poster, I hadn't watched Mad Men, although it had been recommended to me by people whose taste I trusted. Cohu, in comments, pointed out that the entire premise of the ad campaign was wrong. Boy, was she right.
The two characters shown in the poster are Don Draper, the series' main figure and creative director of a Madison Avenue advertising firm, and Rachel Menken, the owner of a New York department store. They have a brief romance during the show's first season, while Don's firm is wooing her as a client.
Let me count the ways in which this ad is cultural vandalism:
Now, don't get me wrong. Sponsoring this stupid ad for Mad Men is not taking a hammer to the Pieta. Mad Men is not a timeless masterpiece, it's more like a Trollope novel. But it is damn good television, and this ad completely disrespects that fact. Perhaps if Germans began actually taking well-made high-middlebrow television seriously, they'd finally be able to create some of their own...
This week's German Words of the Week is not only a twofer but also -- an example the kind of fabulous positive-plus synergy which makes this blog world-famous -- coupled with What I Learned from Tatort. Wow! I can hardly wait to type the post!
Last week, I dutifully switched on my television to watch Tatort. Every Tatort plays in a different German city, and this one was in Kiel, a port city way up north on the Baltic sea. Unfortunately, the detective who features in the Kiel Tatorts is Borowski, who has all the charisma of a sea cucumber. Yes, I know, his waxen flesh and papery monotone are supposed to convey the legendary taciturnity of Germans from the north, renowned as the dullest, stuffiest, and most reserved of all Germans. Which, believe me, is saying a lot. My pragmatic Anglo-Saxon mind entertains the heretical notion of whether these Ent-like humanoids should be the subject of televisions shows that purport to be "entertainment." The most brutal blow was the casting of gorgeous Turkish vixen Sibel Kekilli in a supporting role. She stole every scene she was in, and made the viewer desperately yearn for her to suddenly break into the other scenes, which mainly featured North Germans bitching and seething.
But I digress. I should have known I'd be in for something special this time, because the entire week, the main German public-television station had been highlighting proper nutrition with various specials and cooking shows. And that meant that this week's Tatort had to Teach us about Proper Nutrition. As Christina Sieben observed in her review, the "die Gulaschkanone" of high-minded educational public TV was set on "constant bombardment." Now, a Gulaschkanone is basically what it sounds like: a goulash cannon. The term originally referred to military field kitchens, for obvious reasons. But here, in context, the cannon is spouting edifying lessons like a Stalin's organ. In Sieben's summary:
Artificial colors have to be, because nobody will buy white energy drinks. Cows are always chained up in the dairy. "Research Institutes" are in the pocket of industry. Good food costs money, but people are too cheap to pay for it. The old organic farmer in the show knows all his cows by name. Everyone wants to earn money. And, at the end of the day, it's all our fault. Bon appetit!
Sieben goes on to predict that with Public Television Nutrition Edification Week over, the next Tatort will contain slightly less Moralin. You know, Moraline (not to be confused with Betweenanene (Screwene)). Like Adenosine, Guanine, Cytosine, Adrenaline, or Methamphetamine. Moraline bonds with plot elements in public-television dramas, causing the narrative to coalesce in ways that offer edifying lessons to the benighted, easily corruptible audience.
Thanks to Moraline, we learned all those valuable things about food and nature from last week's Tatort (although strangely enough, the topic of lavish cow subsidies (g) was barely mentioned). Moraline additive also helps us understand, for example, that unemployed people want to work, alcoholics and drug addicts roll like they do because of childhood trauma, women can do everything men can, family-run firms are the only halfway-acceptable form of free enterprise, and that Scientology, nationalism, plastic toys, wars, lobbysists, and nuclear power are evil.
If you watch too much German public television, your moraline levels may reach toxicity: You may begin to use phrases like "our fellow-citizens of the Islamic faith" or "food-chain-renewability enhancing measures" in everyday speech. At this point, you'll need to spend a few hours in a secure, moraline-free environment. The most reliable place is Titanic Magazine (g), which, is 100% moraline-free and whose motto is "Ein klares Ja zum Nein!" (A clear Yes to No!).
People had been intermittently advising me to watch the American sitcom Arrested Development over the past few years, but I somehow never found the time. Until, that is, I found out that the show feature a character with an umlaut in his name, namely: Dr. Tobias Fünke.
Why was this not brought to my attention earlier?
Fünke, it turns out, is one of the greatest American comedic creations since Ignatius Reilly. Trained both as an analyst and therapist (Business card: "Analrapist"), Fünke has ditched psychotherapy and is trying break into the acting business.
His attempts to do so are hampered by many horrible problems. First, his last name, which, as he constantly has to remind people who call him "funky", is pronounced FYOON-kay. Second, his utter lack of charisma and hair. And finally, his complex, multi-faceted, poorly repressed LGBTsexuality, which drives him to generate endless streams of unintentional homosexualistical doubles-entendres (see above). It has also put a strain on his relationship with his wife, Lindsey, in whom he shows no erotic interest behind the scenes, despite bragging in public about how, while he's making "sweet love on her", the "clatter of her breasts" is positively deafening.
Fünke is also proud of his German heritage. We see this, first and foremost, in his near-constant wearing of socks-and-sandals combos, often sogar with white socks. He also proudly claims to share a psychological disorder with two members of the German Parliament. Finally, he repeatedly utters the German word for "shower gel," Duschgel, at various moments during the show:
Or is it douche chill?
Here's how Mad Men, the hot new(ish) American TV series about depraved, shallow, materialistic Americans, is being hawked as it starts its broadcast run in Germany:
"Behind every successful woman stands a man who's staring at her ass."
...in one handy list here (g), from secretaries with funny regional accents to fat men eating sausage in front of a river to boarding schools full of scheming scions of wealth neglected by their rich parents. As with so many aspects of German life, the appeal of Tatort lies not in the fact that it's entertaining and original, but precisely in that it's comforting and familiar.
This cultural trait also makes the writer's job much easier. Coming up with original ideas (especially in a decades-old series) is risky, and beyond the capacity of many people. But churning out familiar variations on well-worn themes is child's play. Come to think of it, I'm sure you could take this list and program a computer to write perfectly serviceable Tatort scripts. Hmm, that gives me an idea...
Ever since evil people got me hooked on Lost a few years ago, I've been patiently working my way through the series. Yesterday, I got around to watching the finale of Season 6, which was also the end of the entire series.
This two-and-a-half hour super-episode was an act of shameless exploitation. The directors and writers took the familiarity we've developed with the characters over some 120 hours of viewing and leveraged it harder than Lehmann Brothers. The plot device they used wasn't very creative (by their standards), but it didn't have to be. Watching it, even I felt like a hopelessly overwrought, oxytocin-addled yenta. (No, I'm not immune.) It's downright creepy to recognize that modern emotional-manipulation technology -- in the hands of masters and potentiated by the length of a TV miniseries -- can leave you caring as much about fictional characters as if they were close friends. And that even when the acting is little more than workmanlike.
The reunion between Sawyer/Ford and Juliet was especially affecting, since they were two of the most well-rounded and appealing characters, played by two of the better actors in the ensemble. The emotional high points were underscored by Michael Giacchino's score -- one long, lush, melting, mesmerizing andante for small string orchestra (mainly variations on the theme "There's No Place like Home") so horrifyingly memorable that it seems to be playing over and over in my head even now, as I type.
Now objectively, I have a lot of problems with the finale. It didn't provide a convincing rationale for the island's existence, it left some loose ends untied which really should have been tied up (all the hieroglyphics and numerology went nowhere), it ignored some of the most interesting characters, and it featured one of those annoying nondemonination, new-agey, all-religions-are-groovy churches (or should we say 'sacred spaces'?). But I don't care. There are much more pressing problems in the world than whether some TV series made 'enough' sense. I wanted to become ensconsced in Lost's amusingly quirky world, and to have my heartstrings pulled. I did, and they were.
The official Lostpedia entry is here (yes, there's a Lost wiki), a mammoth discussion and question-and-answer session by two Washington Post TV critics is here. Screen Rant tries to explain it all here (favorite heading: "What Happened to All the Black People?"). My personal favorite piece of Lost analysis is the 5-minute long video of everything in the show that made no goddam sense. And yes, to squeeze that into only 5 minutes, you've got to talk really fast. It's below the jump, since it has spoilers.