5 WTF Experiences Foreign Fans Have With American Movies
When I was a kid back in Poland, all of my days started with me turning on the little TV set my parents let me keep in my room. Unless I was out or asleep, my TV was always on, and it always showed American movies and TV shows, except when I switched to the German channels during the night for reasons that nobody wants to hear about. (If you do want to hear about it, PM me and I will send you a link to my webcam chatroom.) I don't know why I had so little interest in Polish productions, with one notable exception, but I do know that when you're a foreigner obsessed with American cinema, it changes you, like how ...
You Become Unreasonably Happy Whenever Your Country Is Mentioned
After I was officially done with the education system, I spent a few months getting extra fat so that my ass would be big enough for all of Poland to kiss it when I moved abroad, never to return. What I mean is that I didn't have the best time in my home country, which is why it's so strange that I love hearing Polish in American movies and TV shows.
Do you remember in episode 2 of Jessica Jones when Je-Jo briefly talks to a car mechanic? I do. I remember every little detail of that scene because at the end, the guy spoke Polish. As Jones left, he said something like "Good girls" but he could've said "Ruthless cuckoos" and I still would have felt, well, proud.
That's how you'd say it in Polish. Yes, our language is the Welsh of Eastern Europe.
See, I grew up seeing the U.S. as a symbol of wealth and power, and I guess part of me still feels that way. That's why hearing Polish or a mention of Poland on American TV feels like ... validation, I guess, even when it's not in the best context. Like in the episode of Person Of Interest when the main character goes against Polish gangsters. You can tell because one of them had a giant Polish eagle tattooed on his chest.
Despite the fact that the sort of people that get this tattoo would probably also sport a few swastikas, I actually sort of rooted for the bad guys here because, hot damn, they were deemed dangerous enough to be punched by Jesus Christ himself. Same goes for Donnie Wahlberg investigating a Polish real-estate developer in the episode "Payback" of Blue Bloods. And you can bet my favorite season of The Wire is the second one where half the secondary characters are Polish.
That being said: Fuck Ziggy. It's his fault that is dead.
There also was that time on Luke Cage where Polish arms dealers shot at each other with those Super Alien Bullets and ... Hmm ... You know, it just occurred to me that most Polish characters in American movies and TV shows are criminals. I should probably feel insulted about that, if it wasn't for the fact that when you're a foreign fan of American stuff, you live up to certain stereotypes, since ...
Your Whole Attitude Towards Pirating Changes Drastically
I'm going to talk a lot about streaming, and I want to make it clear that when I say "streaming" I do NOT secretly mean "pirating" just because the former is technically legal and the latter isn't. So, whenever it seems like I might be talking about ripping income from the artists that worked so hard to create things, I'm ACTUALLY talking about streaming in the most moral way possible. OK? OK. So, back in the day, I was really into streaming. Like, 90 percent of my movies, games, and music were streamed, and I was even willing to install cancer on my computer to stream better.
The worst was when you'd spend two days streaming a movie and it ended up being bestiality porn.
I did it because a lot of the stuff I wanted to see wasn't available for sale in Poland, like, say, Batman: The Animated Series. My reasoning was that if the major studios didn't want my zlotys to begin with, then my streaming wasn't hurting anyone. A few years later, they finally started wanting my money but I was so used to streaming by then that I just kept doing it, justifying my decisions with the super inflated prices of DVDs.
Imagine having to pay like $120 for Streamers Of The Caribbean.
Eventually, though, the prices dropped and I swore off streaming. And then I moved to Japan. Deadpool premiered here in JUNE while everyone else got to see it back in February. I was gonna miss out on Ryan Reynolds' crass yet undeniable charm for four months. Thor II? U.S. premiere: November 8th 2013. Japanese premiere: February 1st 2014. Avengers II and X-Men: Apocalypse came out two-and-a-half months after the U.S. Fuck, The Martian only premiered here THIS YEAR.
No joke: It would take a probe less time to reach Mars than it took The Martian to reach Japan.
That is NOT a normal release schedule -- it's cinematic entrapment that's forcing me to ... stream. Not because of impatience, but because of spoilers. By the time a blockbuster reaches Japan, I can't even Google its name because that usually brings up an article with a huge spoiler in the title. And don't even think about getting on any social media site at all. You're going to see people talking about the movie, and if you complain about spoilers, you're the asshole because, "Oh get over it. The movie came out half a year ago. If you didn't want to hear spoilers, you should have seen the movie like everyone else!"
I know that I shouldn't get mad about it if it happens like two to three months after the premiere ... but I still do. My enemy list grows every day. And only superhero-themed blockbusters can satisfy my blood thirst.
So people in my position can either get off the internet, which, no, I can't and I've accepted that about myself, or stream. Now, are all of my excuses more full of shit than a coprophiliac's fleshlight? Definitely, but so is making me wait until GODDAMN JANUARY 27 TO SEE DOCTOR STRANGE!
You Get To Enjoy Animated Musicals Twice
I've gone on record to say that Tangled was way better than Frozen but I'll give Frozen this: it had the better song. Yes, singular. Why? Were there more songs in the movie other than "Let It Go?" There WERE? Fascinating. Anyway, yeah, "Let It Go" was an instant Disney classic while all Tangled had was "When Will My Life Begin."
It was still a good song. It's just very ... pop-ey. And the thing about sub-perfect pop is that it's OK while it lasts but it never hits any real heights and leaves no lasting impression on you, and I just realized that my sexual history would make a great pop song. But back to the point: "When Will My Life Begin" was meant to set the tone of the entire movie and it unfortunately dropped the ball with its sugary cuteness. And with all due respect, it's sort of the fault of the singer, Mandy Moore. Why do I say that? Because I've listened to the song's Japanese version, and it's miles better:
In Japan, the song was sung by Mari Okonogi, and she elevates it to a whole new level because she sings it more elegantly and with an adult voice. And when you take the pink saccharine out of "When Will My Life Begin," it becomes a REALLY great song, which in turn affects your perception of the entire movie.
That's also how I feel about "Be Prepared" from The Lion King. First, try to forget what an amazing actor Jeremy Irons is. I know it's hard, but do your best. Watching his performance in Dungeons & Dragons should help. Now, since you've done the near impossible, really listen to how he sings in "Be Prepared."
It's not really singing as much as it is ... melodic talking. You don't hear any oomph, zazz, or squanch in the song where there clearly should be some. But all those things are found in the Polish version of the song.
I lost my shit every single time I heard this song as a kid. It was massive, operatic, and sounds monumentally badass, which are things I don't really feel when listening to the original.
It's not always a competition, though. I love both the English and Polish versions of "Hellfire" from The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, despite it being a Disney song about rape. But both renditions are very different, as are, in turn, the films themselves. This means that I basically get two to three movies in one with every animated musical, a fact that I sadistically rub in the noses of my nephews and nieces LITERALLY ALL THE TIME. And that's why I never get asked to babysit.
Hype Doesn't Affect Your Opinions
I like That '70s Show for two reasons: because it has Red Forman, the greatest American that ever lived, and because I was never exposed to the show's marketing. See, That '70s Show is decent, but according to its commercials, it is, and I quote, "the biggest phenomenon since disco."
Look, it's OK to exaggerate a little in promos. It's why I begin every conversation by pretending to get off the phone with Obama. And, yeah, if it wasn't for That '70s Show, we would never truly appreciate Laura Prepon's topless scenes in Orange Is the New Black but ...
Sorry, what was I saying?
No show could ever live up to hype like that. If I had to sit through it, I'd have never given That '70s Show a chance. But I first streamed the show in Poland without seeing any commercials for it, so I was allowed to form an opinion on it all on my own, and that ALWAYS tends to work in a show or movie's favor.
I still think that's why I enjoyed stuff like John Carter so much. When it came out in Japan, its marketing campaigns were very tame, unlike the American commercials which made it seem like Red Bull Star Wars. Then there was the time when I first saw Juno and went to talk about it with some of my online buddies, only to discover they all hated it. I honestly did not get it. I thought the movie was great. It was quirky, before that word lost all meaning, but it was also kind of sad and had no black-and-white answers to serious questions.
Questions such as: Why isn't Michael Cera the official mascot of the internet yet?!
Juno isn't on my Top 10 list or anything but I enjoyed it, so why didn't everyone? From what I heard, it's because the movie was over-hyped up the whazoo. If you lived in America when it was released, people basically screamed from passing cars at you about how it was the indie comedy of the decade. Living across the Atlantic at the time, I didn't have this problem, but I get it. It's like how there's no better way to ruin someone's meal than by promising that their sandwich will feel better than a blowjob. When you raise people's expectations like that, you are only setting them up for disappointment and a night of cleaning mayonnaise off their dick.
You Sometimes Miss Out On Good Movies Because Of Badly Translated Titles
All of Japan has been designed with seniors in mind. That's why there are escalators everywhere (for easy movement), and why all the school uniform skirts are so short (for easy perving.) It's also why most foreign movie titles here are untranslated, in case a senior citizen accidentally buys a ticket for an American movie thinking it's actually Japanese, the horror. This wasn't the case with Wreck-It Ralph, however, because the title's Japanese pronunciation is legally considered cruelty to your mouth. So they translated it. To ... Sugar Rush.
This is why my wife refused to give the movie a chance for years.
Plus, she already lives with a clumsy buffoon -- why would she want to watch a whole movie about one?
It does make some sense as Sugar Rush is the name of the arcade game that most of the plot takes place in, but it also makes the whole film sound super lame. Sugar Rush is the title that you'd give an early 2000s movie about Ben Affleck desperately trying to date Nelly Furtado, not a whimsical, funny adventure. I wonder how many people decided to skip it because of that?
Titles are important, dammit. They are the first impressions of the cinematic world, and it's crucial to get them right, otherwise you put innocent young people at risk of not watching The French Connection until they're 20. This was me, incidentally. See, the movie's Polish title is closer to "The French Connector," (which is probably a Jason Statham movie by now, honestly.) The title is basically the same as the original, I know, but it always reminded me of plumbing supplies, and it took me years to get over that. Today, The French Connection is one of my favorite movies.
I have considered suing the movie's translator for keeping me from it for so long.
Shit, when I was 12, I had a chance to see Alien but decided against it because the movie's Polish title is "Alien -- The Eighth Passenger Of The Nostromo." My pre-adolescent brain got bored and peaced out halfway through that title. I can't even imagine how many people never saw The Terminator in Polish cinemas because it came out here as "The Electronic Murderer." No, really.
It also works the other way around when fans like me sit down to a movie titled "Whirling Sex" and then discover that it's actually about dancing.
That's just playing dirty.
But, hey, at least I didn't pay for it. Thanks, "streaming"!
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist, interviewer, and editor. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter.
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