Czech TV station TV Barrandov is known for airing pre-1989 communist TV shows. In today’s terms, they would be called TV drama series. Usually they tell a story of a prominent communist who has to deal with “everyday problems”, which include people who are not true communists. These shows were produced by an order of the pre-1989 party leadership which controlled everything. Twenty-one years after the Velvet Revolution, some people still live in the past, mistakenly believing that life was better back then. And they watch these programs, even though they glorify injustice, oppression, censorship etc.
On December 23, the day of the late Vaclav Havel’s funeral, the station aired one of the worst examples of the above, a series entitled Muz na radnici (A Man at the City Hall) despite the fact that three days ago Czech PM Petr Necas asked media to alter their program to reflect the three-day national mourning period and the funeral.
True, TV Barrandov did alter their program by observing the minute of silence at noon and by airing a special documentary. These two changes were “proudly” announced in a press release on Wednesday. The management had enough time to plan and implement one more change. It could have been Havel’s favorite movie… or just anything… but the commie show was aired anyway. It is like airing a terrorist flick on a 9/11 anniversary.
I don’t think there has ever been a U.S. TV show that would be so popular that it would stimulate secondary business activities in the Czech Republic. But now there are two hugely favorite programs that are amazingly good for business: How I Met Your Mother and especially The Big Bang Theory. Catchphrases from these two shows made their way onto T-shirts. And there are at least four small companies that offer them for sale. Not surprisingly, the “companies” are in fact small businesses owned and run by enthusiasts. And their T-shirts are unique and their owners stick out in their respective crowds.
Geekshop.cz is one of them (the photo above is theirs). The T-shirt motifs are, well, geeky. One would expect they would be total rip-offs, but they are not. True, two of them imitate the actual T-shirts worn on the show (Leonard/Sheldon), but that is not illegal. And then there is Suitup.cz that focuses, of course, on HIMYM. The T-shirts sold by Suitup.cz are more the Barney-style (they are tighter and they seem to look good together with Tommy Hilfiger jeans).
Sure, one could argue that these businesspersons are just milking other people’s cows. But you can say that just about everything that is related to showbusiness, even a hot-dog vendor who sets up his cart across the street from Universal Studios.
TV Prima’s “secondary” channel named Prima Cool is known for unorthodox visual style, so as to appeal to younger audiences. However, today I saw a teaser trailer for Polar Express, which is a family movie, if not a Christmas fairytale for children. For some reason, the background music for the teaser was The Internationale, which is the official “anthem” of social democrats, communists, the former Soviet Union (1922 to 1944), etc. I will have to ask the spokesperson of the TV station about it…
UPDATE EXPECTED SHORTLY…
[VIDEO INSIDE] Normally, the “Got Talent” shows search for talented artists in their respective countries. This country is an exception. TV Prima (Czech Republic) joined forces with TV Joj (Slovakia) in search for “Czechoslovak” (or “Czecho-Slovak”) talent. And the winner is: a duo of gymnasts DaeMen. The other two of the three “top finalists” were magician-entertainer Richard Nedved and operatic pop singer Marian Zazrivy.
Fourteen finalists included solo singers (e.g. daughter of NHL goaltender Dominik Hasek), duets, dance formations or magicians. This time the three judges had no say because the winner was announced based on the highest number of SMS votes sent by TV viewers. The prizes include EUR 100,000 and a contract for some performances in Las Vegas.
The show background is very interesting. TV Nova (the biggest player on the Czech TV market) missed its chance to obtain the license from FremantleMedia, so they immediately came up with the very same concept of their own. They call it Talentmania… and it is broadcast on the same days as Got Talent.
Czech music enthusiasts will once again have the opportunity to see and listen to the Harlem Gospel Singers. They will perform at the Prague Congress Center on December 14. The interesting aspect of their performances in the Czech Republic is the fact that many audience members don’t even understand the lyrics and their real message, i.e. they fail to realize they are clapping to the rhythm of a church song.
Crowd participation is a very important part of the live performance of the Harlem Gospel Singers. They sing hymns and Czechs crowds follow even though they have no idea about the meaning. Oh Happy Day is a good example. The most recognizable text is easy to comprehend and seems to have nothing to do with religion. But it is, after all, a part of a 1967 gospel music arrangement.
Sure, it is entertainment – but it is also a little disrespectful. The question is: to whom. Dancing and clapping and singing in churches is a key aspect of religion in Alabama and other Southern states, so when a religious Czech person does it at a HGS concert here, it is kind of like cheating on their religion…
I am a fan of witty books written by foreigners about a country they visit, or about their new (temporary or permanent) homelands. I liked Stephen Clarke’s Merde books and I enjoyed For the Love of Prague by Gene Deitch.
Bus To Bohemia by Posh Parker is another one of these works of art that are, in my opinion, written mainly for the author’s fellow citizens who are less fortunate and have not had the chance to visit a foreign country and dive into its everyday life by attending local bars and communicating with local people, instead of just eating at KFC and shopping like ordinary tourists. Of course, just like most authors of all genres (be it comedy or university textbooks) there are a few very minor cases of jumping to conclusions — but hey, we ALL do it.
Books like this one may also be of interest to Czechs who want to know how the nation is perceived by foreigners and who do not take things personally. Many Czechs do take things personally and any comments and remarks regarding aspects of everyday life result in their unspoken remarks “Go back to (insert country here)”.
Of course, one has to have in mind that books written by the author’s foreign experience are often written from one specific perspective. Had the author arrived as a first-class British Airways passenger and stayed at the Radisson and dined in the Alcron’s La Rotonde, it would be a different — and boring! — perspective.
The author’s website is here. You can also buy his book.