Slovenes Are Americans
I've always found it amazing that Slovenia, a tiny alpine country with a population the size of greater Milwaukee, could support so many television and radio stations. According to a recent count, the country has 330 print media outlets, 83 radio broadcasters, and 37 television broadcasters. Almost all of them are transmitting American shows and music. In fact, if you are what you watch, then Slovenes are Americans. Slavic, alpine Americans. Earlier this afternoon, I conducted a small experiment. I sat down in front of the radio and went through the entire range of frequencies, writing down what I heard. It was stuff like: Shakira's "La Tortura," U2's "City of Blinding Lights," "Take Your Momma Out" by the Scissor Sisters, "Precious" by Depeche Mode. There was "Follow You, Follow Me" by Genesis, although that one doesn't count because it was being played on an Austrian station -- and they play Phil Collins 24/7. Otherwise, it was standard pop music, with only an occasional smattering of Slovene or Croatian to tip you off that you weren't in Kansas anymore.
Some people are angry about this. Radio stations are currently obligated to have 10 percent of their songs be Slovene. A new government proposal wants to up this number to 30 percent -- whether people actually want it or not. Of course, this probably won't stop most stations from continuing to play the American hits people want to hear, and then filling up the 3:00 to 5:00 a.m. slot with Slovenian music. It's hard to try to sell people something they don't want.
American dominance continues when it comes to television. Popular shows on television include: Desperate Housewives, Lost, CSI, Monk, and reruns of shows like Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond. There are also homemade versions of popular reality shows. (A recent one, based on The Bachelorette , ended in disappointment when the star of the show ended up with no one.)
All American shows are broadcast in English with Slovenian subtitles. This is in contrast to other European countries, where they dub everything. The result is that young people in Slovenia speak nearly perfect English, often with a distinctly American accent. Venture off into a little alpine village and chances are that the teenagers there can greet you in the latest street slang.
The area where Slovenia and the United States diverge sharply is pornography. On weekends, local television stations suddenly start playing hardcore movies. Humorously enough, they also have Slovenian subtitles; I actually know one guy who used to do this. He said it took him between two to three hours to subtitle a movie, despite the fact that many phrases repeated themselves ad nauseam. ("That's the way I like it!" "Awww, yeah!" etc.) I always smile when I imagine him locked up in some little booth, patiently transcribing and translating the worst dialogue humankind can offer.
Slovenian attitudes to pornography and sex are relaxed. The picture you see below is taken from a sex shop that is right in the middle of town next to a children's toy store. Although you could argue that it makes sense to put a store that sells toys for kids next to a store that sells toys to help people make kids, it's hard to imagine something like this not causing an outrage in the United States.
Slovenes are really quite baffled by America's Victorian side. Since so much of the X-rated spam in their mailbox is from the U.S., and since the movies shown late at night are also from California, they just assume the country is awash in the stuff. They're then shocked when they hear that it's not. At least not in the open.
Here, respectable newspapers and magazines will regularly feature naked women. You'll also see nudity on billboard advertisements, TV...everywhere. Songs played on the radio are uncensored, as are television shows, meaning you can hear all of George Carlin's "seven dirty words" on a regular basis. Everything that comes in from the U.S. is unfiltered and raw and in its original form.
It's ironic that Slovenes living in an obscure country 4,000 miles away from the United States enjoy uncensored access to American media that is censored at home.
In that way, perhaps Slovenes are even more American than Americans.