Thursday, April 8, 2010

I Wonder If They Know

I Wonder If They Know

While carpooling home yesterday, I noticed the 12-year old daughter of the woman driving looking at a teen style magazine full of pictures of the likes of Taylor Swift, the cast of Twilight, Justin Bieber, and other teen icons that I’m too out of the loop to recognize. She was shuffling through a CD of pop tunes from Latin America and the US. I am certain that American movie stars and famous musicians and know of their mass allure in the United States, but do they have any idea of their popularity abroad?

The first time I traveled to Europe in 1988, when I said I was from Chicago, people would talk about gangsters like Al Capone. In 1992 when I returned to Europe and said I was from Chicago people would say, “Michael Jordan, the Bulls!” and sometimes in Spain, “Los Bulls!” In Southeast Asia in 2000 the music of the Back Street Boys, In Sync, and oddly Tracy Chapman filled the air in guesthouses. There, saying that I lived in San Francisco didn’t elicit much response. However, mentioning the state in which it is located would often prompt the Asian style singing of, “Welcome to the Hotel California”. In Australia in 2001 a big TV hit was their version of ‘Big Brother’.

In all my travels, nothing from TV seems to have such worldwide appeal as ‘The Simpson’s’. Matt Groening is from the Pacific NW, where I usually live, and I bet he has no idea how popular his show is in Colombia after more than 20 years. I for one am glad ‘The Simpsons’ still is making people laugh.

Do the celebrities know? I have no idea. My advice: if you’re famous make good choices, do the right thing, you might just end up on a t-shirt in Colombia someday.

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