Captain Sasha May 27th, 2011
A reader, Chris commented here that while he likes Europe for what it offers, there are also some areas which he finds Europe lacking in. He uses France as an example and points out the apparent lack of variety in media, languages and culture in France as the ‘cons’ of living in Europe. While his criticism makes sense from his viewpoint as an American, an understanding of the European perspective would help one appreciate why things are that way in Europe. For better comprehension and readability, I will deal with each of these topics in a seperate article, starting with media (Cinema and TV).
Dumb and Dumber: Thats how American films look in Europe
The reader points out quite accurately that European cinema is not sensationalised enough as compared to American cinema. Which is understandable considering that the average American is used to sensationalism in films and media - in the form of slapstick comedies, stylised acting and over-the-top special effects with very little concern for realistic or artistic value. In mainstream American cinema, films never challenge the audience, never force them to think beyond their comfort levels and never contradict that values that Americans believe in or hold dear. Movies like Dom Durakov (Russia), A ma seour (France) and Sara (Poland) would be too uncomrtable for the typical American audience who prefer simplistic plots that center around their rigid concepts of of right-vs-wrong than the complexities of human mind and behaviour. This works for the American audience for whom films are not about art or understanding life, but a way to escape the boringness and durdgeries of the American lifestyle. Whil such movies appeal to teenagers in Europe who are yet to develop their full congnitive abilities; most adults find these films extremely over-the-top and an insult to their intelligence. Hence, European studios shy away from making such films for the European audience.
As for TV, France and other European countries have a lot fewer channels and shows than the United States. For an American, this seems constricting and lacking in variety. However, for Europeans this is quite acceptable as they watch far less TV than Americans; they’d rather spend the time bonding with family and friends. Watching TV for more than 3 hours a day would make you a sort of outcast in Europe (except during the Football World Cup season) while in the United States, it is quite normal to watch TV for 5 hours or more everyday. Americans watch TV so much that a lot of them base their judgements of the world and people around them by what they see on TV. As a result, a large number of TV shows have come up in United States, to cater to American tastes and to shape their public opinion on world events, foreign policy, ethics, fashion, sexual behaviour and every other topic that humans are interested in.
As a personal example, I don’t have a TV and watch around 4 - 5 films a month. In the United States, I’d be labelled a crazy and have a difficult social life given how TV and films dominate conversational topics in United States. In Europe, I am just a normal person like everyone else - we talk about news, travels, literature, people we have met and funny anecdotes in social sitatuations.