何毓琦的个人博客分享 http://blog.sciencenet.cn/u/何毓琦 哈佛(1961-2001) 清华(2001-date)

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How well do you understand American pop culture? 精选

已有 9726 次阅读 2012-3-20 00:29 |个人分类:生活点滴|系统分类:海外观察|关键词:face class understand culture office


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“UnderstandingAmerica” is a endeavor for which some scholars spend entire lifetimes to study;academic disciplines – American study – are named after; fascinatingdiscussions by other nationals ; and no doubt of great interest to many Chineseand students/parents planning to come to the US. Of course, one can alwaysacquire some understanding by going to a library for books written on thesubject, or try to read a US newspaper everyday for an extended period of time,or simply be totally immersed in living in the US for several years. However,when can you say you really understand the American popular culture? I submitthere is one test given every weekday night that one can take as a gauge to measurethat knowledge. This is the comic monologue (單人相聲) delivered onthe TONIGHT TV show by the host every weekday night at 11:30 pm. The monologueis a rapid fire series of one sentence jokes on a mixture of current events,world affairs, celebrity gossips and other popular topics of the day. If youcan follow and appreciate these jokes, then you can truly claim to be a wellinformed person that understands America. This is because you not only need tobe well informed, but also understand English perfectly as well as some ofsubtleties of the language, and know what is currently popular in the US. Eventhe audience of the show sometimes will miss a joke and do not laugh. Then thehost will simply add a supplemental joke deprecating himself, the staff whodreamed up the joke, or even occasionally the audience for being too slow.

The “Tonight” show from the National BroadcastCompany (NBC) is the longest running talk show at the 11:30 pm slot in Americasince the 1950s. Its most famous host was the late Johnny Carson who did theshow for some 30+ years. During the height of its success, NBC decided toexport the show to Britain believing with the same language it should bepopular there also. It was a dismal failure since the British simply cannotfollow or appreciate the humor in the comic opening monologue by the  host –another piece of experimental evidence of my thesis  that this is a test ofreally understanding American culture.  For myself, I only begin to like the monologueafter some 15 years living in the US in the mid 60s. Nowadays, I often watchthe 5 minute monologue of the show in bed immediately after the 11 o’clock newsand weather before turning off the light and go to sleep.



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