WHAT DO A MISSIOANARY AND TWO MKs DO ON THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS BREAK?
Why, they watch Star Academy, of course! (It’s a French reality show in the tradition of American Idol, but with a lot less talent and a lot more glamour.) And they bundle up with two stuffed dogs (Muffin and Zidane) and my “husband blanket” (you’d understand if you ever “met” it) to do so!
We like to think that it’s for cultural and educational purposes thatwe put our intellects on hold every Friday night. After all, whatbetter way for a Korean from Mongolia and an American from Mali tolearn French than by watching a 3-hour variety show in that language? And what better way to understand a foreign culture than to immerse oneself in its most eccentric creative form?
We’ve learned a LOT about the French from our 15 weeks of Star Academizing:
1. They like an underdog only until the dog gets better, then they drop it for a tone-deaf mongrel.
2. They chose their stage clothes like others choose glasses: it’s more about style than about coverage.
3. Unlike Americans, they like to keep their 1960s musical icons in the spotlight, which results in embarrassing off-pitch, face-lifted “special guest” performances that teeter on the brink of geriatric warbling.
4. The French (and I say this lovingly as a 1/3 French person!) are the type of people you love not in spite of their obnoxiousness but because of it. Being obnoxious is a national pastime they take very seriously.
Mind you, France’s uniqueness is not the only culture we’ve encountered on our Star Academy evenings. For instance, only a person of Asian descent would resort to taking pictures of a TV screen for posterity’s sake! And they blame us for perpetuating the cultural stereotype!
And only a snarky little brat who is all too comfortable in the BFA culture would spend the evening trying to reproduce the multiple-chin look of a self-conscious staff member such as me! Note how beautifully she succeeds!
To quote myself (in a recent piece of writing):
“In the distorted mirror of my mind, my chins were the size of a cherub’s rear…and nowhere near as cute.”
But luckily for Squirt, I’m the forgiving type…
She, however, is not! One of the most common side-effects of watching French reality shows is the tendency to throw things at the television screen. And when someone like Squirt, who loves my dog Zidane almost as much as her cleats, launches the stuffed animal at the TV, you know there’s something afoul going on with the voting!
But all’s well that ends well, and we were thrilled, at nearly midnight, when our buddy Dominique walked away with the semi-finals victory and right into the finals…which I’ll sadly have to watch alone this coming Friday! I think we woke up half of Riedlingen with our victory shrieks.
Bottom line? I love Squirt and Xena almost as much as I love McDonald’s. And since last Friday’s Star Academizing was preceded by a quick trip to the Golden Arches, it was an evening bordering on perfection!
Note to Xena: If you’d stay awake longer AND let go of the camera, you’d make it into a lot more pictures, babe!
My love to all the students who have travelled by plane, train, automobile, paddle boat and snowmobile to reach the far corners of the earth and spend Christmas with their families. This place sure feels quiet without you!