Thursday, March 27, 2008

Eine Klein Fernsehenmusik

It's really too bad that the German word for television is Fernsehen rather than some variant of television, because Eine Klein Televisionmusik would have worked much much better than the one that the Germanic tongue hoisted upon me. But there it is. Eine Klein Fernsehenmusik. Intrigued? Didn't think so.

Nonetheless, since Señor Gato Gringo and I have been living in the south of Spain, enduring bone shattering winds and an apartment which can produce mould like that house in Amityville produces horrors, we have had unhindered recourse to our furnished apartment's television. Our flat in Madrid didn't have one - well it did, but it elected not to work and our landwhore elected not to replace it - so we went 6 months bereft of a box that showed moving pictures and spoke in many languages.

Now that we have access to a box that shows moving pictures and speaks in many languages - and by many I mean one and one-eighth as Gib TV rarely honours us with a tolerable reception - we watch it. And the operative word is watch rather than listen, or better yet, comprehend because at any given time - save for when Gib TV honours us with a tolerable reception - our programming is all in Spanish, a language that we at best can rarely barely hardly and - if we're really lucky and they speak slowly - kind of understand. It is exhausting watching television with a dictionary in hand.

Spanish television is curious for a number of reasons. It's not just our one and only video station which on the stroke of midnight turns into a hardcore multiple-partnered multi-orificed porn channel - although the first time the clock hit twelve it did cause for some frenzied grabbing of the remote control. Like TV everywhere, the days and nights are littered with talk shows, insipid game shows, American sitcoms (dubbed), Spanish sitcoms (not dubbed), soaps & serials and endless news programmes: soft (with cooking segments and tricks around the house) and hard (with news). I was going to say soft and hard just like the porn but thus far, the porn has been anything but soft.

But the curious thing? you ask. It's the music. With the exception of the news (hard), producers here feel it incumbent upon themselves to put a musical soundtrack to everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything. For example, on España Directo, a soft news programme on TVE1, you can be as sure as God made little green apples that an animal story will be accompanied by the Tokens' The Lion Sleeps Tonight and just about any human interest story will either feature REM's Shiny Happy People (if it's really upbeat) or the Proclaimers' I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) (if there's a family reunion) or Henry Mancini's Baby Elephant Walk (if it's really banal).

Nor have television commercials been spared by these inane soundtracks. There is the store here in La Linea which sells frozen prepared foods - frozen prepared foods made more enticing by Kansas' Dust in the Wind. Or the commercial for recycling accompanied by Coldplay. I know that Coldplay always makes me want to separate my plastics from my corrugated cardboard. Of course the recycling ad in question has nothing to do with separating waste but what time of the day you're allowed to throw your garbage into the bins.

It's all so annoying, especially since this background music is usually played at a volume which almost completely drowns out the individual(s) speaking and may be causing permanent damage to my eardrums. Chronic hearing loss notwithstanding, this is a problem for linguatards like me who have to watch TV with a Spanish-English dictionary in hand. So any given evening when we're watching the news (soft) or checking out the local ads, you can be as sure as God made little green apples that either Señor GG or I will be be flipping furiously through our dictionary saying Damn it! - what did he say? Was that pera or perro? But fortunately because this is a cooking show and because this is Madrid rather than Beijing, it's usually pear rather than dog.

And just in case you can't remember Henry Mancini's Baby Elephant Walk, here it is in all of its trunk-trumpeting glory. Be forewarned that you'll be humming it for the next 5 days straight.



(I warned you)

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sakes alive ! You haven't lived until you have watched "Friends" in Spanish.

Vivian said...

Good post.

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