Ask a Romanian // July 23

Let’s continue answering questions about the glorious land of Romania and its even more glorious culture. Andrew asked:

What bits of American pop culture (TV shows, musicians) are surprisingly popular — if any?

>>> Here’s a response from Jo, who blogs here.

“Most surprising success, for me, is the Pimp My Ride type of TV show. I mean, Romania is a country with a (one) national car: the antic, famous, totally outdated Dacia (maybe Cristi adds a photo of a 1310 model, the most popular). Despite recent enhancement (the state owned company was bought by Renault, who gave Dacia a radical makeover, which is equally popular and outrageusly expensive), the streets are still dominated by the old model. The idea of pimping a Dacia meant putting a Mercedes sign in front, fluorescent lights inside, bright green police vests on the front chairs and, of course, a CD hanging from the mirror, to fight radars.

Suddenly, now, everyone is watching Pimp My Ride and keeping their cars in repair shops to add useless features and to turn them into orange street monsters. Average salary is 230 USD.”

>>> Here’s a response from Karla, who has also recently returned home after a few years in Germany:

“Depending on how you define ‘surprisingly popular,’ I’d say:

– The 4th of July: every year we are reminded by all Romanian media channels that the US celebrates its independence and every year we send all Americans and their president warm greetings and thoughts of eternal friendship.

– Valentine’s Day: we would have our own “Lovers’ Day” ten days later, but February 14th has become widely popular.

– Ghetto hip-hop: a friend of mine has a son, who listens to Romanian hip hop bands singing about Romanian ghetto life. Now, that same friend has been in the States and has returned with a totally new take on the concept of “ghetto”… but I guess the bad-boy-ghetto-gangsta-man-look appeals to the Romanian crowd too.

Everything else that comes to my mind is shifting away even more from your question of ‘pop culture’ and moves toward other cultural bits that we have imported from the US. But that’s a slightly different story.”

>>> Here’s a response from Dudu, my brother, who consumes (read “downloads”) a whole lot of American culture:

“I guess I could say my favorite TV shows, and a most of my friends share the same opinion, would be Lost, Desperate Housewives, Nip/Tuck, The O.C. and a series I really enjoy is Entourage. In Romania we could say that from all of these shows, Lost and Desperate Housewives have gathered the most viewers. Great story lines, complex characters, ‘pizdos’ [let’s say it means ‘awesome’] actors; that’s what we enjoy.”

5 Responses to “Ask a Romanian // July 23”

  1. So I’m guessing you guys have access to mostly all the same mainstreams shows we do? I mean, Desperate Housewifes, LOST, and the O.C. are all recent…for some reason, I guess I thought you would get these shows a little after they air here.

  2. We steal them. Some are broadcast on the networks and all but they are indeed a season behind. But people usually download an episode from the Internet a few hours after it runs. No, it’s not legal. But no one watches. Yet.

  3. This is exactly what I am interested in knowing about- modern Romanian pop culture. Specifically, though, I am interested in the theatre dance and music scene. What are theatre-goers going to see? Are there many musicals? What can Western theatre artists offer to Romanian theatre artists, and would they even be interested in a collaboration? Are plays being shown in English there, or are groups from other countries translating into Romanian? I’m really fascinated by this, and I’m also very serious about bringing my group there to collaborate.

  4. It sounds like many Romanians have the will and means to stay more on top of American pop culture than I do. So does this mean MTV has an outlet in or near Romania? In Prague, it was German MTV. I’m guessing the bean counters looked at the size of the youth market in the Czech Republic and decided the ad revenue didn’t merit a Czech-language channel.

  5. Andrew, we used to get MTV Europe (out of the UK) through the 90s. Then about 5-6 years we were “blessed” with MTV Romania. Most of it is still material produced in the States and in Europe, but we have some local crap and more importantly we have Romanian VJs and Romanian music. Quality stuff as you can imagine.

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