11 February 2009
As I sit here at my desk, tired and weary after a pretty full day, I just gotta elaborate on something I’ve been meaning to talk about for some time. Now, as plenty can attest, Azerbaijani folk, like many of the twenty-first century, enjoy their T.V. It’s on morning, noon, and night. There’s a variety of shows people like to watch, but one in particular I wanna mention.
I can remember watching Spike T.V. back in the States. Familiar with that channel? Any clue what one of their most prevalent shows is? Yeah, you guessed it: Real T.V., the show made up exclusively of…well…stuff caught on tape. Pretty cool, huh? Well, let me assure you this phenomenon doesn’t stop at the border.
Nope, and it’s not without good reason. What’s so great about these kinds of shows? Well, who gives a darn what language they’re in? It’s sweet stuff caught on tape! That said, it’s one of the most popular shows on T.V. around here, and my host family and I indulge in it frequently. At first I thought it was pretty dumb. I mean, dude gets hit in the testicles by a teeter-totter. That’s not exactly high brow humor, but, yavaş yavaş (slowly but surely), as the Azerbaijanis say, I started coming around to the baseness of the jokes, and, I mean, c’mon, I ain’t that sophisticated. What’s the harm in laughing at a guy skateboarding off his roof or another dude riding a bike into a lake? It’s all in good fun.
Nonetheless, it occurred to me: Where do you think most of these videos come from? Yeah, you guessed it: The United States. I began to think, “Oh, crap. This is the impression being given to these sweet people about the U.S. of A?” And I can’t imagine what must be going through their heads. I didn’t know what to think when we’d see some guy from…wherever…riding a horse into a barn just to hear my host mother say, “Ay, Allah. Ay, Allah.” Let’s also not forget about the dude that can light his fart for an extended period of time (although he might be European. I’m not sure.).
I soon found myself embarrassed when Rustəm, my host brother, would ask me, “Is this is in America?” I’d try not to answer.
Luckily, I think the folks take it for its entertainment value, as they should. American or not, people do dumb stuff, and to be perfectly frank, if my host family’s opinion of the U.S. was based on a dude trying to do a back flip on a pogo stick, I don’t know how welcoming they’d be.