For speakers of German only

April 3, 2008 at 5:35 pm | Posted in Austria, German, Television | 4 Comments
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Note: This is NOT a comedian. It’s Thomas G. Hornauer, an entrepreneur who earned billions with phone sex lines. This documents his motivational speech after he took over an Austrian (?) TV station. He’s Suebian (German) though.

An alle Exil-Deutschen: Professor Brinkmann ist tot

June 19, 2007 at 9:59 pm | Posted in Television | 3 Comments
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Den beliebtesten aller deutschen Fernsehärzte kennen manche auch als Klausjürgen Wussow.

Bye the way – I never realized this before, but suddenly the Schwarzwaldklinik music reminds me of Dynasty.

The Zimmers rock!

June 6, 2007 at 7:34 am | Posted in Film, Television, Youtube | 1 Comment
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This is the kind of thing that moves me! The Zimmers is a band with a choir of pensionists, most of which live in old people’s homes or isolated in their flat. They’re not just old, they#re impressively old people, the lead singer is 90 and by far not the oldest. The band grew out of a BBC documentary to advocate the cause of older people and have been name after a British brand of walking frame. Here is their myspace page – revenues from the song will go to a charity for senior citizens. And here is the video:

It may sound this ridiculous, but I watched this with tears in my eyes and the urge to liberate other old people from their homes.

A breastfeeding minor? 26/40

March 18, 2007 at 8:47 am | Posted in Film, Television | 4 Comments
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One of my students sent me this picture of a rather disturbing poster she found in a thrift shop in Istanbul, featuring what seems to be an under-aged girl (maybe 6) breastfeeding a baby.

Gülsah

If you take a second look, however, you’ll find that the girl is simply caressing the baby, and that the misleading impression is probably the result of the poster been buckled. I wish I understood Turkish – apparently, this is the poster for a Turkish movie produced in 1975 which carried the first name of the actress, Gülsah. Also, it’s a comedy, so let’s just hope that there are no comedies that feature breastfeeding minors. Nice example of borderline iconography though.

Apart from that, something wild happened on my blog today. The deletion of that insect on Google Earth was evidently a story of greater interest – it even scored place 66 on the list of top posts in English…. I doubt that that is going to happen again though – and look how pathetic my regular blog traffic is made to look now! It’s sunk into insignificance…;-)

Blogstats

Numbers are really dangerous. We watched another installment of Deutschland sucht den Superstar (German Popidol) yesterday, and the scenes at the end, when the results of the telephone vote are released are really nasty. Confronting 16 year olds with a vote on what must appear to them as their popularity is really quite harsh. Numbers are nasty. One interesting thing about my traffic yesterday: in spite of this incredible number of 471 viewers, none of them (except my beloved usual suspects) left a comment – although that’s what makes it interesting. On that remark (and in order of first blog appearance): Thanks Lenina, Nova, Lallopallo, Jetsam, Cabbage and Greg for stopping by regularly and making your contributions. They brighten up my days in F***ing Voradelberg tremendously! And thanks to the ‘lurkers’ who I know are there (and let me know so via email:-) A happy Sugahasisumnida to all:-)

SRK in my bathtub and on KBC2 – a star descending to TV?

February 8, 2007 at 9:57 am | Posted in Bollywood, Entertainment, Film, Popular Culture, Television, Youtube | Leave a comment

Yesterday I stumbled upon the Shah Rukh Khan rules! group in flickr. Quite some time ago, when I posted about the state of the European (in particular German) infatuation with SRK, I took a picture of my bathroom adorned with Bollywood themed devotional cards. Someone called Another Penny Lane left a note on the picture, showing the man in HER bathtub.

SRK

Who wins? No comment necessary. 😀

Penny’s comment also reminded me that it is time to check how SRK is doing on KBC2 – Kaun Bangea Crorepati (Who wants to be a millionaire?). See for yourself – I think he is keeping up, although not quite big enough to walk in Amitabh Bachchan’s shoes.

Regardless of the question of the competition with the Big B, I’m intrigued by the fact that it seems to be possible, after all, for a Bollywood film star to descend to TV (also think of Shilpa Shetty in the Big Brother house – or was her career already faltering?). No such thing is likely to happen in the Western World. Imagine Brad Pitt, Dustin Hoffman, Gwyneth Paltrow or Meryl Streep becoming a TV show host! It would spoil their glossy veneer, I suppose… but does not seem to harm SRK. Or does it? What do you think?

Btw: Watching KBC also seems to be one possible way of learning Hindi – the host’s speech is riddled with English words, and the questions are presented both in English (in writing) and Hindi (read out by the host).

Brief DSDS update: Lindsay and Aleksin were sent home yesterday, Mark Medlock was the show’s king of of hearts [link to video]…

A quick guide to Borat

February 5, 2007 at 8:28 am | Posted in Comedy, Entertainment, Film, Globalization, Television | 1 Comment
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BoratSince people searching for ‘Borat naked’ on the web keep ending up on this site*, I’ve decided to put together a quick itinerary for these folks. First off, here is a youtube video featuring the naked chase:

Here are the essential sites dedicated to the screen character Borat Sagdiyev – allegedly Kazakhstan’s sixth most famous man.

  • Borat [Wikipedia on Borat] is a screen character played by Sacha Baron Cohen [Wikipedia on Cohen]
  • Other popular characters created and impersonated by Cohen are ghetto boy Ali G [Wikipedia on Ali G] and gay Austrian fashion reporter Bruno [Wikipedia on Bruno].
  • You can become Borat’s friend on myspace.com/borat.
  • Before the movie, there’s was a two-part television show introducing Borat [Wikipedia on this programme]. It was broadcast in 2004 on Channel 4 and E4 in the UK as a spinoff to the Ali G show.
  • Borat has an official homepage: borat.tv.
  • There are several inofficial Borat fanpages: Boratonline (uk), Boratfans.com (trying to be as trashy as the original), Boratmovie online (but you won’t find the movie there), and Boratwear.com (the last one comes with a shop).
  • boratgallery.com, boratlingo.com boratimages.com are now defunct (copyright violation? but that’s just a private guess)
  • If you are looking for production information to reference the film, Borat’s page on the Internet Movie Data Base would be a good start.
  • Your best bet to get an overview of the reception by critics is Borat’s page on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • If you don’ know what the Borat fuss is all about, you could start with this video interview with Borat on movies.com

I’ve put a “globalisation” tag on this post because I think that the controversy about Borat has to do with the different reception it got in different parts of the world – it’s probably easier to enjoy the film in Europe than it is in the USA, Kazakhstan or Romania.

*) I wonder why! I’ve never written a single word about him. I haven’t even seen the movie – and I suppose it is better that way, as it would only wind me up.

I’m hooked onto DSDS (German Popidol)

February 4, 2007 at 6:42 pm | Posted in Entertainment, German, Popular Culture, Television, Webfilm, Youtube | 4 Comments

There is no point in denying: These days, the lack of TV reception or a cable hook-up cannot prevent you from getting sucked into the abysmal depths of private television. You don’t need a TV set anymore, it’s all on youtube, clipfish, dailymotion (and in no time, all of us computer owners will be coerced to buy a TV licence…).

Nico RaeckeYesterday, for the first time in years, I went OUT in order not to miss a TV show… I watched the DSDS Recall show at my boyfriend’s flat – and unfortunately missed the first ten minutes in which the Nico Raecke story line was resolved. From what I could reconstruct based on the three seconds I managed to catch and what I found on several web pages afterwards, it seems as if Nico gave up, or rather, his probation officer forced him to resign from the show. According to a news report from RTL two days earlier, youth welfare took his four months old son and put him in foster care, allegedly due to the 17-year-old mother’s drug problems. What a story! It would have made an excellent piece of social porn (“Sozialporno”, m., being a term that is currently used in German to refer to reality TV programmes) and would have ensured high ratings. The (in that sense equally pornographic) picture above is taken from a dubious interview conducted by Berliner Zeitung. EDIT: I dug up the web video covering the bits from the show that I missed – but all pieces put together still do not form a coherent story.

Mark MedlockThat kid having gone, there are still enough weirdos on the remaining brigade of wannabe popstars to cause trouble. Camp boy soldier Mark Medlock has already shown that he’s prone to losing his cool (refusing to go on stage in the final round of the recall, then coming up to perform a rather freakish rendition of Summertime without piano accompaniment).

British sounding names are apparently en vogue:

Lauren TalbotHaving appeared with Mark in a duet before, Emily-the-Strange lookalike Lauren Talbot first botched up her final song, and then sang another, a very peculiar but interesting version of, again, Summertime. My prognosis: The two of them will cause some serious psycho trouble if they make it into the motto shows – and considering that the jury’s power is reduced to commenting from the next show on, we can probably assume that both of them already have enough of a fan base to continue.

Here’s a gallery of all 20 contestants – including two brothers and one half of a set of identical twins (and if the better half didn’t have to have surgery on a benign tumor, there could have been two sets of siblings).

Reality TV Update

January 29, 2007 at 10:20 am | Posted in Entertainment, Popular Culture, Television, Youtube | 1 Comment
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Here’s the update on my currently favourite Reality TV shows: Celebrity Big Brother & DSDS (German Pop Idol), both watched via Youtube and Clipfish.

Shilpa ShettyShilpa Shetty wins the 5th season of Celebrity Big Brother, bagging 67% of the votes. Runner-up is the soft-spoken Jermaine Jackson a.k.a. Muhammad Abdul Aziz, bronze was claimed by A-team hunk Dirk Benedict. Fourth came Ian “H” Watkins who had his coming out just briefly before stepping into the house. The media (including Wikipedia) like to point out that Shilpa is the first Indian to win CBB. I’d like to point out that this was the first time that the candidate with the most refined behaviour won, with the second most behaved contender leaving in second place. Dirk, whilst being somewhat of an old grump, still maintained a relatively sophisticated edge, certainly viewed in contrast to the proclaimed “face of hate” (The Sun) Jade Goody and her mother. And it does in my eyes not make a difference whether Shilpa’s demeanour is “authentic” or the conscious result of acting skills and professionalism – it’s quite refreshing seeing someone being NICE to the people around in a reality TV scenario (which normally seems to encourage people to transgress the rules of good conduct), whereas nobody escaped unscathed when Jade and her mom Jackiey were around. So I’d like to take the (possibly) reactionary, opposite stance to the common pro-trash attitude which would perceive of Jade’s and Jackiey’s behaviour as direct and honest, but not necessarily rude.

Related articles: Race, Class, Culture & the Big Brother House
Finally: The Backlash against White Trash TV?

Nico RaeckeThe current edition of DSDS has its first scandal: Nico Raecke appeared to be a particularly conspicuous candidate, first because of his vampiresque eyes, then because of the story he dished up, of a youth spent on the street and in jail, toting a picture of his one-week-old son and presenting himself as a father and husband. Turns out the story was made-up: He does have a son, but also a mother, and she is not a prostitute, but lives in a residential area in Pinneberg with her partner. And what’s worse (for such a format): Nico now sports a ridiculous haircut with shaven ornaments above the ears.

Nico Raecke and motherIf you can read German: Here is the full story, along with a video of him waiting outside his mother’s house to apologize. It will be hard for him now to enter the show, but even if he makes it into to the top ten, he’ll soon be voted out. TV audiences don’t like to be openly lied to, they prefer to ignore that TV is a lie altogether.

Related articles:
Hooked onto DSDS (including a link to Nico’s final appearance on TV)
German Pop Idol: DSDS online

Horst Schlämmer is a blogger now

January 28, 2007 at 1:33 pm | Posted in Comedy, German, Posts in German, Television, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments

Another post for German audiences. Horst Schlämmer hat seit dem 22. Jänner auch seinen eigenen Blog.

Horst Schlämmer

Who is Horst Schlämmer? See previous post.

German Pop Idol: DSDS online

January 27, 2007 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Entertainment, German, Popular Culture, Television, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments
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DSDSOf the many Pop Idol franchises, the one with the most contrived name is probably the German one: Deutschland sucht den Superstar (Germany searches the superstar). Given the German predilection for abbreviations, people refer to the show as DSDS (pronounced day ess day ess – think of a North East English accent). It is currently running in its fourth season – I don’t have TV reception, meaning that I cannot watch it when it is aired.

BUT: In the time span between the third and fourth season, RTL has launched its new video community Clipfish – yet another start-up vying for the remains that youtube and myspace have left over. I suppose (but do not know for sure) that Clipfish is linked with RTL Interactive, the successor of RTLnewmedia with whom I had a job as a student employee around the time that the Web 1.0 bubble burst. Even the chat supervisor, i.e. the one that is paid for monitoring an army of unpaid* forum and community moderators, is still the same as five years ago only that he is now dubbed BigFish – it’s quite pathetic if you think about it.

*: well, they get an RTL keyring for Christmas.

ClipfishThe concept of the site isn’t bad though – as is typical for any venture that RTL has a finger in is you can do next to nothing on the site unless you are a registered user (apart from viewing the videos, of course). But in the Web 2.0 days, people don’t seem to mind registering and filling in extensive profiles to fuel their online personalities.

Clipfish is definitely a smart move when it comes to marketing their own TV shows and establishing tight customer relations: All the online activities for the new season of DSDS are managed via Clipfish. In the past, online editors covered the show, wrote biographies and built image galleries – no trace of such effort this time. Instead they’ve reserved a seperate category and subportal for the video coverage of the show on Clipfish.

Carmen LeibEmbedding won’t work (only youtube is supported on wordpress), hence here a link to my favourite contestant so far, although she’ll have a hard time to survive the Recall. 80 kilo goths have never been able to last long on casting shows. Btw, I wonder whether Recall is the appropriate term or just another one folk ethymological anglicism such as “das Handy” for mobile Phone. What Recall it is meant to signify here is the first (non-live) show after the three or four casting sessions during which the ten contestants will be appointed.

NicoThis guy is also interesting – raised in a children’s home, lived on the streets with 12, went to jail, is now married, has a son, and all that at 19. Dieter Bohlen, Germany’s biggest music industry sleaze, immediately became suspicious of him (and said so), most likely the unconscious response of a fat cat against the young and hungry. The kid’s peculiar eyes might have done the rest.

Smashing Slang

January 22, 2007 at 10:59 am | Posted in Funny Stuff, Learning English, Literature, Television | 3 Comments

White TeethJust a quickie today. Do you know a tosser from a jumper? If not, play the “Smashing Slang” flash game on the PBS website. The game is based on slang expressions used in the TV series “White Teeth” (based on the novel by Zadie Smith).

“Even if you’re wrong, you’ll add a colourful phrase to your vocabulary”. That’s what the makers of the game promise. Just don’t use these terms in your essays, thank you 🙂

There’s more info about the novel and the series
on the PBS website.

Finally: The Backlash against White Trash TV?

January 21, 2007 at 4:59 pm | Posted in Bollywood, Entertainment, Globalization, Television | 1 Comment
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Has the recent crisis caused by TV celeb Jade Goody’s ranting against Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, her fellow housemate in Celebrity Big Brother 2007, finally stirred up a backlash against (white) Trash TV of that kind? I’m deliberately modelling the term White Trash TV after the German Unterschichtenfernsehen which is to describe TV programs targetting a low income, low level of education audience. The “low level of education” is, however, what counts in this construct – it may be the result of low income, but doesn’t mean that rich people couldn’t be chav (meaning: rude, loud and uneducated, German: prollig) as well.

German “Unterschichtenfernsehen”
The discussion of Unterschichtenfernsehen was highly controversial in Germany, in particular because it was considered a denigrating reflex of the bourgeois (saturated, educated, wealthy) classes against the culturally impoverished lower classes of society. Unterschicht (lower class) is not the immediate equivalent of ‘working class’, in particular because there is no such nostalgic thinking about the working classes as it exists in Britain. The working classes and their ‘organic’ socially supportive culture and ‘authentic’ way of life have played a crucial role in the shaping of the idea of culture put forward by Richard Hoggart und Raymond Williams, the godfathers of contemporary cultural studies. This type of mutual support and nearly wholesome lifestyle is absent from the notion of the Unterschicht.

The lower classes on TV
The present day (German) Unterschicht is a construction in which the individual is disconnected from society and sociability, prone to drugs and alcohol, isolated in their run-down council homes, dwelling in derelict bedsit and unable to look after themselves or their children of which they have many (i.e. more than an average of 1.2 per couple which is the average birth rate). The television set is their substitute for both sociability and education and has since long sucked up all their ambitions. The result are dysfunctional families, put on public display in Die Supernanny, modeled after the British Supernanny Jo Frost, who does not only show the parents to discipline their children, but to carry out such essential tasks as maintaining their households properly. Wrecking the TV set in the kids bedroom is one of the first tasks she sets them.

Murder by neglicence
What is crucial in the Neue Unterschichten-Debatte (the controversy about the new lower classes) is that the term Unterschichtenfernsehen occurred at a time when several cases of neglected, abused, molested (and eventually killed) children caught the media’s attention. In 2005 alone, 178 cases of manslaughter or murder resulting from gross negligence were reported in Germany, murder on children, that is, the most dramatic cases being seven-year old Jessica who was starved to death, two-year old Kevin who was found dead in the fridge of his father who was a drug-addict and 10 months old Leon who died of thirst when his mother simply left him and his sister locked up in her flat. I wouldn’t like to assume that such things have never happened before, but suggesting that this was a new development was part of the discourse.

New idols: The chav takes the cake
The connection between such deprived and depraved individuals the parents of these children have to be assumed to be and the content and effects of Reality TV, spear-headed by Big Brother, were soon to be made. The most popular indvidiuals of this new breed of TV celebrities were the least educated ones and their rise to stardom was accompanied by a certain fascination with the coarseness of their conduct.

Zlatko, for instance, a contestant on the first German edition of Big Brother, was known for not knowing who William Shakespear was – in a similar way that Jade appeared to be ignorant of the most basic knowledge, such as the location of the city of Cambridge (she thought it was in London) or the meaning of the word ‘influential’ (although she knew she was rated 25th most influential person in the world by Heat magazine).

In her rude and loud behaviour Jade was topped only by her own mother who joined her on CBB5 – and claimed after the eviction of Jade that she “would still love to squeeze her (Shilpa’s) neck until her eyes pop out ” Daily Star). All in all this made Jade “play the role of lumpen proletarian gargoyle: inarticulate, lacking in basic general knowledge, prone to flying into ecstasies of rage such as she subjected Shetty to the other day.” (quoted form K-Punk).

The point I’d like to make here is that it was exactly this combination of traits – inarticulate, irritable, incoherent, unfair (sometimes flagged as ‘honest’) – that were Jade’s claim to fame in the past – in the similar way that previous contestant Nikki was famous for her tantrums. What we witness in the promotion of such TV celebrities is the sacrifice of the human ability to tell right from wrong for the sake of entertainment on the level of a gladiator fight.

Bringing out the worst in people
So the backlash against (white, or any) trash TV that I was hoping for did not come to pass. The causa Jade Goody, i.e. putting her in the pillory for racism, is just a sham. The issue that is really at stake here is (or should be) society’s own disgust with the kind of entertainment that they’ve demanded and created – but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if society is able to acknowledge and face this fact. Nobody pulled the plug on Big Brother, they simply axed Jade Goody – for what was inappropriate and disgusting behaviour indeed – only everbody knew that someone of her merits wasn’t exactly a good person to be send as an ambassador to further understanding among nations. (The fact that _ALL_ media production meanwhile has a global audience is another aspect that was ignored by the producers – just think of the case of the Mohammed caricatures).

Nothing good could ever come of Big Brother, and it’s actually a coincidence that nothing worse has happened so far. For those who have forgotten this, some wise words from Radio 1 DJ Nihal on the matter: “The whole point of Big Brother is to bring out the worst in people, it’s not to bring out the best. It’s not that all these people sit around having a nice cup of tea. It is to bring out the worst, and to expose hipocrisy, ignorance, bigotry and also this veneer of respectability that celebrities have is just taken away.”

Ok, and that’s where I’ll end my obsession with the CBB racism row.

A medley of Jade misbehaving on CBB5

January 20, 2007 at 1:45 pm | Posted in Entertainment, Popular Culture, Race, Television | 2 Comments
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Here is the first part of the interview with evicted contestant Jade Goody last night on Celebrity Big Brother. It includes a roundup of national and international reactions by the media and politics on the racism row in the house, and a “worst of” video of Jade in the house.

Thanks to ArtynmayCBB5 for processing all of this for youtube. Further critical comments to be found on K-Punk.

Face of hate

Remember the A-Team?

January 19, 2007 at 3:11 pm | Posted in Entertainment, Globalization, Television | Leave a comment

Dirk Benedict a.k.a. “Face” is currently one of the housemates on UK Celebrity Big Brother. Being American, he seems to be bonding a bit (or at least trying to) with Shilpa Shetty, both being alienated by the chav crowd in the house.

Race, Class, Culture & the Big Brother House

January 19, 2007 at 10:15 am | Posted in Entertainment, Gender, Popular Culture, Race, Television, Web 2.0 | 4 Comments
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Read Lenina’s post Shilpa vs. Jade: Indian upper-class vs. White working-class and watch the video below. It might stop or flicker when you play it the first time, but once it’s been fully loaded the quality is quite good of that one. I suppose it was uploaded by one one of the Channel 4 employees, as it shows the credits sequence for a suspiciously long time and freezes on the logo in the end.*

Why though did “they” choose to subtitle Shilpa’s, but not Jade’s words? Apparently because Jade’s accent – distinctively working class – was considered typically native. Being a non-native (or non-Brit – that might be the more crucial distinction at work here) I have a much harder time understanding Jade than Shilpa (and I’m quite fond of the Indian accent).

Lenina read the incident as a class issue, the British public predominantly has to read it as a race issue (and display signs of guilt and horror to appease the Commonwealth audience – to whom the show and its continued airing is probably a clear case of colonialist behaviour and discourse).

One could simultaneously look at it as an example of typical problems that may arise in crosscultural communication. As Jade claimed herself, she wasn’t able to read Shilpa or figure out whether she was “genuine” and hence assumed, based on her previous perception of such behaviour (in upper class people), that she wasn’t. Shilpa (even Jade had unknowingly provided her with the code to deconstruct the attack) in turn was hurt because she mainly took in the reproachful comment that she wasn’t genuine and that she played games, but clearly couldn’t see why Jade’s inability to read her disconcerted Jade so much. According to Shilpa, she simply “played the game (= BB) by the rules”. In the same way, Jade wasn’t able to see why what she perceived of as “being direct and honest” was not appreciated, but taken as vile (uneducated) behaviour and interpreted it as an upper class reflex. It couldn’t occur to her that being working class (and behaving like it) was probably not a centre of positive identity construction in some cultures (like the Indian), and looked down upon for other reasons than wanting to deride the uneducated. Etc, etc. Watch the video and see for yourself 😉

Bye the way, eviction night is on tonight on Celebrity Big Brother!

*) Back in the Web 1.0 days, start-ups had to take successful content like comedy show videos off the web because they couldn’t afford the bandwith. These days, they just upload them to youtube. How youtube can afford this is beyond me – but we also do not know yet whether the Web 2.0 bubble is going to burst or not. I think it will, but not quite as dramatically as the last one.

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