March 03, 2004

German Television

So I've been watching television to try to get a feel for spoken German. It's been frustrating to not understand what's going on. For a while I was watching Der Prinz von Bel Air--the Fresh Prince of Bel Air--but I was having a very difficult time following the show. A few days ago I did some channel surfing and found Home Improvement on at 5:00. I was able to follow that much better. I don't know if it's because it's a simpler program, or if it's because I've seen it in English and am already familiar with the characters, or if they just speak more slowly, but it was easier to understand. Unfortunately it's followed by a German sitcom which is just as hard, if not harder, than Der Prinz. So channel surfing again, I found cartoons. At 5:30 it's a German cartoon, then starting at 6:00 it's Disney cartoons--Gummi Bears and Duck Tales. The cartoons are much easier to follow. They definitely speak slower and the show offers many more visual cues to follow the story. The German cartoon is easier than the two Disney ones and I suspect it's for a younger audience. Hopefully having these on will help train my ear to the cadence and patterns of spoken German.

As far as adult programming, German tv leaves a lot to be desired. There's an NBC affiliate with such bizarre programming it's amazing NBC allows their name to be used at all. The primary show on NBC is "NBC Giga," a show Kevin told me about in 2000 and one I didn't quite believe until I saw it. It is quite literally a show watching other people surf the Internet. The screen shows a computer screen and various web pages, sometimes with video or music. There's a narrator, but basically they just go from page to page. I suppose I could have understood this in the very early days of the Internet, say 10 years ago, when it was still a new phenomenon, but now? Plus the fact that Kevin saw it in 2000 means the show has been around for at least 4 years. Very strange.

The commercials are also entertaining. The big show on the channel with Der Prinz is Big Brother. But in Germany, Big Brother is a little more racy. They have infrared cameras in the bedrooms to show who is sleeping with whom, for example. I also saw my first nude commercial, at 5:00. It was a commercial for body lotion, and featured a naked woman, first the front view from the waist up, then the back view from the waist down. Even though I had been told about this kind of thing, it was still a little shocking to see it for myself. And Kevin says just wait for late night tv, where the commercials and programs are basically soft porn. It's definitely different than the US!

Posted by Shelby at March 3, 2004 06:51 PM