Wednesday, February 13, 2013

German class continues

Yesterday, we learned "he" and "she" in German class. Our teacher pulled out a series of photos of various celebrities and quizzed us: "Wer ist das?" It led to a lot of red faces - it turns out that there aren't many celebrities that have truly global appeal (or at least not nearly as many as celebrity-obsessed American culture might lead one to believe). We also had no vocabulary to describe what they do (actor, musician, politician), so nobody really broadened their pop culture knowledge.

I was interrogated about Antonio Banderas and managed to come up with his name (I did have a momentary pause, as the picture was probably at least 20 years old, which appeared to be embarrassingly slow, judging by the mutterings of the Spanish students in the class). I was blown away when a Portuguese woman couldn't identify Paul McCartney (from the classic moptop Beatles days), but found myself on the ignorant end when the instructor held up a picture of dancing man of African descent with dreads. "Das ist DJ Bubbles!" several voices called out. I looked at the Hungarian woman next to me. "Who on earth is DJ Bubbles?" I whispered.

Unfortunately the instructor hushed us and I never found out. So, of course, I googled him when I got home. Can a person even be a celebrity without a wikipedia page!? (Please note sarcasm here. I don't really follow music, and the interview I found with him online was in English and referred to him as "legendary," so this is obviously a deficiency in my own personal pop culture knowledge).

However, my ignorance was at least private, since the instructor was not addressing me specifically. I felt for the Hungarian when the instructor pulled up the image of an oil painting and turned to her. "Wer ist das?" The room fell silent. Old dead white guy, I thought - but we haven't learned any of those adjectives, so I couldn't lighten the moment. She sputtered, and the instructor double checked the image, then turned back to her. "Yah, Ungarn [Hungary]!" he urged, as a way of encouraging her. I was still drawing a blank, so I silently applauded her when she hazarded a guess. "Liszt?" she whispered.

And lo and behold, that is exactly who it was! Now, I enjoy classical music, but I wouldn't know a picture of Beethoven from Tchaikovsky, so kudos to her. Perhaps Liszt is the only famous dead white guy that Hungary has produced.

But either way, at least he has a wikipedia page.

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