Friday, September 29, 2006

American Pop Culture Free

We Americans take our collective popular culture and the rich experience therein for granted. Take my wife, for example.

Blissfully free of Hollywood's pop culture influence, she was born in Italy, raised in Europe and the US by a strict Italian dressage instructor who had no interest in her daughter ever turning on the television, let alone seeing a single feature film (except The Apple Dumpling Gang which she was allowed to watch for 10th birthday present.) She did listen to music, so she was fully immersed in the late 70s-80s portions of that as a youth (Kool and the Gang; Michael Jackson; KC and the Sunshine Band; Earth, Wind and Fire).

Yes, she watched the occasional Starsky & Hutch during prepubescence when her mom was away from the house, but she was living in Germany at the time. Thus the hunky David Soul had the voice of J├╝rgen Heinrich, and Huggy Bear sounded an awful lot like Sergeant Schultz sucking helium - though she didn't know who Sgt. Schultz was, having never seen Hogan's Heroes.

Of course, over the past 16 years, I've helped catch her up on many films and television shows that have sculpted the modern American psyche. Jaws, Star Wars (which she thought sucked), H.R. Pufinstuff, Doctor Strangelove (which she thought sucked), Monty Python (didn't get it, any of it), and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (she said was an LSD trip, and not a good trip). Only recently she saw The Exorcist. She has still never seen Horton Hears a Who, Conan, 4 of the 6 Star Wars films, or Caddyshack. It's a crime.

She recently returned from business in Switzerland and last night she says, "I went to a chocolate factory. A real chocolate factory. There was no Willy Wonka. No candy rooms. No Ever loving God stoppers. Just a cranky old lady behind a counter, selling chocolate and coffee."

Ever Loving God Stoppers? I corrected her, then went to my room and shed a single tear for Charlie Bucket.

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