Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oh my бог!

I don't think I've ever felt more American than I did this past week. It's not because it was the 10th anniversary of 9/11. And it wasn't because I stick out like a sore thumb around these parts as being significantly not Georgian. Nope, it's all because I had the most American evening in my entire life.

It started in pretty typical Georgian flair- the sisters decided we were going to the movies so off we went, without checking the movie times or what was playing. (because why would you plan ahead when you could just GO?) We arrived at the movie theater and had to wait around for over an hour to watch what we thought was a Russian-dubbed version of that really bad shark movie. You know, that one that recently came out. It's about the group of college kids on vacation who find trouble and have to run around while hardly wearing any clothes. Basically, it's I Know What You Did Last Summer, except with sharks instead of a psycho killer. I figured I would just roll with it because that type of movie isn't really dialogue-heavy anyway (a scream in English is a scream in Russian is a scream in Georgian, etc., etc.) It turned out that the movie was actually The Hangover II. Don't know how that mix-up happened, but I was still in the 'I'll roll with it, sure thing' mood. It was still in Russian, though. And even though it was dubbed in Russian and I was the only one who laughed when Mike Tyson made an appearance (because I was the only one who knew who Mike Tyson is), I felt oddly American. I think what really did it for me was the coke. You see, I don't drink coke. I'm not a huge fan of soda in general and coke leaves an overly sweet and vaguely metallic taste in my mouth. But you know, I was just so thirsty and my host sister had bought the thing for me that I just went with it. And sitting there with my popcorn and coke, I just felt American.

And the American tour of Tbilisi didn't stop there. After the movie the sisters took me to McDonald's. For some reason instead of walking to the McDonald's, their dad picked us up in his large SUV and drove us the two block's to McDonald's- if that isn't American, I don't know what is. And looking around at the McDonald's clientele, I couldn't help but notice the overwhelming amount amount of American logos on t-shirts and jeans and handbags. And if a t-shirt didn't have a logo on it, it would have something in English.

It seemed so strange, almost too American. It funny, you don't realize just how America is portrayed through TV and movies until you see people trying to imitate that. When most Americans look at shows like My Super Sweet Sixteen and The Kardashians we realize that it is more fantasy than reality TV. The percentage of people who live like that is very small. But that rationale really gets lost in translation when these images are broadcast all over the world. When a young Georgian sees these images what else are they to think other than, "Wow, that's how Americans live." And unless people actually go to America and see for themselves that we are not how our television represents us, it is pretty hard to crack the veneer of their image of America.

P.S.-The title of this post is one of the Great Moments in Dubbing History. In the Hangover there's one point where one of the characters does a very slow and shocked, "Oh. My. God." For some reason the Russian dubbers decided to say, "Oh. My." in English, but then just said the Russian word for God [pronounced bog]. I was the only one in the theater who seemed to find that incongruity hilarious...

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