Silver Chips Online

Entertainment around the world

Blazers enjoy music and television of different cultures

By Emily Hsiao, Online Managing Editor and Monica Wei, Online Entertainment Editor
May 29, 2009
America's culture has teens constantly plugged into their headphones and cells, listening to the latest tunes or watching videos on YouTube.

But for some Blazers, American entertainment has its limits. Some find relaxation not in the womanizing tones of Britney Spears, but in the beat of Icelandic band Sigur Ros. Some prefer the melodrama of Bollywood or the complicated relationships of Asian shows to the workplace humor of "30 Rock." The entertainment of other cultures offers different worlds to explore.

Love triangles galore
A poster for the Taiwanese drama "Devil Beside You." <i>Picture courtesy of CTV.</i>
A poster for the Taiwanese drama "Devil Beside You." Picture courtesy of CTV.
A girl finally musters courage to give a love note to her crush, but the note winds up in the hands of the school's notorious bad boy. After much bickering, the bad boy manages to woo said girl away from the nice boy. Bad boy's father decides to marry girl's mother and suddenly the young couple are stepsiblings? Cue chaos. This is the storyline of "Devil Beside You," one of junior Diana Ly's favorite Asian dramas.

The messy relationships in "Devil Beside You" are a reason Ly enjoys such television. "There's always a love triangle or someone trying to control someone else," she says. She finds the situations relatable and funny.

Ly especially enjoys the teen element - most of the actors and actresses are in their late teens or early twenties. In comparison to Asian dramas, Ly finds American dramas dull and slow-paced. "It's just fighting and they're all about doctors or old people," she says.

Although Ly is Vietnamese, she generally avoids Vietnamese dramas, citing poor video quality as a deterrent. "Taiwanese, Korean and Japanese dramas are what's really out there," she says.

Some French fun
France: the country of romance, freedom and… entertainment? At least for some Blazers. Senior Abby Cember admits to her love of French movies - or at least a certain category of them. "To be honest, my favorite form of foreign entertainment is the French versions of Disney movies," Cember confesses. She became hooked when a friend introduced her to the French counterparts of American Disney movies.

In her case, Cember may be more attracted to the Disney songs than the actual plot. "Hearing my favorite Disney songs sung in French is heartwarming because it makes me realize that little kids are the same all over the world," Cember exclaims.

he cover of the March 17, 2009 edition of the French magazine, "Paris Match." <i>Pciture courtesy of Parismatch.com.</i>
he cover of the March 17, 2009 edition of the French magazine, "Paris Match." Pciture courtesy of Parismatch.com.
Senior Jean Fan, another fan of French music, enjoys it for other reasons. "French music helps me develop my French vocabulary and improve my pronunciation," Fan, a current AP French Literature student, explains. "It's easier to learn words when you have catchy lyrics and context. Other than language, it's comparable to American music."

While Fan listens to political French songs, Cember is busy reading the French magazine "Paris Match." Her interest began during a vacation in a beach house rented from another family. "They left many of their magazines in a basket and the living room, including 'Paris Match' …," Cember describes. "I was snooping around, started reading and have been a fan ever since."

"Paris Match" compensates for what Cember believes the U.S. media lacks. "American magazines are much less probing and varied than foreign ones, in my opinion," she complains. "They tend to focus on specific topics rather than general interest and shy away from strange and arbitrary topics, sticking to ones that are favorites for newsmedia."

Cember doesn't even need to subscribe to "Paris Match." "Luckily, Madame Loomis [AP French Literature teacher] always has the latest ones in her classroom, enabling me to read instead of paying attention in class," she laughs.

High off Hindi
Tired of Hollywood movies? Why not try Bollywood movies! For sophomore Manisha Sarkar, Hindi movies have taken over a large portion of her free time, even she cannot understand Hindi. "I watched my first Hindi movie when I was about six years old, but I hated subtitles and didn't really like the one we were watching, so I stopped for a while," Sarkar explains. "When I was like 10 or 11, though, one of my family friends brought one over, and even though it wasn't very good, I still was pretty interested in this 'whole new world' of movies, you know? I mean I thought English movies were all that even existed," she laughs.

Sarkar is attracted towards these Hindi films because of the storylines. "The plots in most Hindi films are always pretty unconventional and interesting, and though sometimes they can be very cliché, they're normally fun to follow," she says. "I've normally always been surprised at the end of all movies, and I never feel like 'Oh, an English movie could have pulled this off just as well.' "

The movie poster of a recent Hindi movie, "Bachna Ae Haseeno." <i>Picture courtesy of Yash Raj Films.</i>
The movie poster of a recent Hindi movie, "Bachna Ae Haseeno." Picture courtesy of Yash Raj Films.
Sarkar's interest in Bollywood film partially results from her disinterest in American films. "I feel like all of the English movies I ever see now are based off of a book or a TV show and they're not all that original anymore," she criticizes. "Also, Indians tend to over-dramatize everything, so they always provide some laughs too. One downside of Hindi movies though is that they're extremely long and the normal running time for them is about 2.5 to 3 hours."

Mix it up
He bobs his head to the music in his oversized headphones, his hands tapping out the rhythm. If you ask what he's listening to, he'll promptly clap the headphones over your ears, and beat-heavy music that you've never heard will fill your senses. Maybe it's Palestinian rap, French hip-hop or an Icelandic beat. Senior Anton Frolenkov's music taste is what he calls "everything, but no classical."

After a friend introduced him to rock, Frolenkov jumped to disturbed, heavier music and later to trance and industrial music, until he eventually found his passion: mixes. He first listened to DJ Shadow, who holds the Guinness world record for the first album composed entirely of other albums. "You can't tell, because it's mixed and put together in way that every once in a while you recognize something, but it's fit with something else," Frolenkov says.

After finding mixes with solid beats, Frolenkov sometimes looks up their track lists, leading him to more music. "There might be some rock in the background, or a melody from a French song," he says. "You get stuff where you can." After searching for songs, he might find more links. "From the Thievery corporation bio, I'll read that they're kind of like the band Air, which was also involved with this other group, St. Germane."

Music from different cultures have slightly different sounds, even if they are from the same genre. Palestinian rap that Frolenkov listens to has a much angrier sound, closer to the stereotypical west coast rap about guns and drugs, whereas German rap tends to be more laid back and silly.

To Frolenkov, music is simple. "You just play the music and as long as it works together, you're good," he says. "It's like a cream puff in a cake, and you stick that in an éclair, and you stick that in the middle of a king cake. Like Mardi Gras but instead of a little dude, you get more good stuff."

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/9247