Friday, May 13, 2011

American (Pop) Culture Shock

Living in a foreign country has its everyday challenges.  The obvious language barrier can make normal errands challenging and sometimes you want some Wendy’s and other foods we miss the most.  One of the most underrated challenges that I’ve noticed recently is the pop culture disconnect between Germans and Americans.  This becomes a problem when I use these pop culture references speaking with colleagues or at a party and they almost always fall flat.  By the time I am done explaining the reference, both I and the other people are exhausted and the reference is rendered as another one of my many stupid comments. 

So, in order to save some future awkward conversations, I have listed some recently used American pop culture references.
#1. Friday - Rebecca Black
For those of you know who know me personally, you would not find it surprising if you asked me what day it is and I responded in a synthesizer voice, “Yes-ter-day was Thursday. To-day it is Friday, Friday.  To-mor-row is Sat-ur-day and Sunday comes afterwards.” 

And if they were still looking for the answer after that, I would answer more directly, “It’s Friday, Friday.  Gotta get down on Friday.” 
If you don’t know the reference it could be a little strange.  Though I believe it’s just a matter of time before Rebecca Black becomes really popular in Germany.  If David Hasselhoff can stay popular here, anybody can.  133 million views so far on youtube.  I personally think the Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert rendition was even better. 

#2 The Office- Juggling Dance by Will Ferrell
At a recent birthday party, I was tearing up the dance floor with my dance moves.  That was until I tried the juggling dance.  With the scene of Will Ferrell on the most recent The Office fresh in my mind, I started to juggle 5 balls.   I even used one stunned onlooker as a prop (ala Phyllis in the scene.)  I thought it was hilarious.  The blank looks from the people at the party told me I was the only one. 
I really want to do the juggle dance again (like I will ever get invited to another party after the first juggle dance) so here is the juggling scene from the Office.  Maybe now I can get at least a pity laugh.

If you have't seen it yet, I really encourage you to watch this.   It's hilarious. 

#3 Seinfeld – David Puddy 
With the NHL Hockey playoffs in full swing (actually it is winding down for my beloved Detroit Redwings) I have used a lot of David Puddy references from Seinfeld.  When asked about my ever growing, but still patchy playoff beard, I normally squint my eyes and say, “I’ve gotta support my team. It’s the playoffs, you gotta let know you’re out there.” 

This is just one of many Seinfeld references I use every day.  42% of everything I say has to do with a Seinfeld reference, so not being able to Seinfeld quotes and references really decreases my ability to effectively communicate. 

I still don’t understand why Seinfeld never became popular in Germany.  I can scan the TV channels in Germany at any time in the morning and have a 100% chance of seeing something with Fran Drescher in it, but Seinfeld re-runs can’t make the cut. 

What are some other pop culture trends that we may have missed in America while living in Germany the last 8 months?

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