Saturday, September 16, 2006

Cultura moldovaneasca, si buna, si rea

I have noticed two major cultural presences in Moldova this month, and sadly, the bad one is more popular.

The bad one is Cleopatra Stratan, the three-year-old daughter of pop singer Pavel Stratan. Her song, which has the exact same backing track has her father's song, plays on Moldovan radio all day. This wouldn't be a problem if my host family didn't constantly play Moldovan pop radio. Whenever the song comes on, I have to leave the room and listen to something completely opposite, like Atari Teenage Riot. Cleopatra is headlining her own concert Sunday, with her father as the "special guest". Now there is definitely a time and a place for cute little kids singing, namely public television before 11 a.m. But for a three-year-old girl to be this popular is beyond my understanding.

My perception of Moldovan culture has been revived, however, by The Matrix dubbed in Moldovan. No, not Romanian. No, not Russian. Dubbed in Moldovan, a mix of Romanian and Russian words and phrases with the most vulgar words from both languages mixed in at every other line. The makers of the Moldovan Matrix dubbed all the lines in corny voices and replaced parts of the movie's original soundtrack with Russian dance music. They also changed a healthy amount of the plot; The Matrix is how Moldovans picture themselves in 2003, a time when Moldova occupied half the territory of Europe, and machines enslaved Moldovans because they realized that a drunk Moldovan was an excellent source of energy. Moldovans trapped in the Matrix have never tasted real wine. Some of my favorite lines from the movie:

When Morpheus talks to Neo for the first time on the cell phone and warns him about agents approaching: "Just give them a bribe and they'll let you go."

When Morpheus talks to Neo in the dojo simulation: "Hit me in the balls, but not too hard."

When Dozer says (in English), "We've got a lot of work to do," Neo and Morpheus have this conversation:
Neo: What language is he speaking?
Morpheus: I don't know.
Neo: Why doesn't he learn Romanian?
Morpheus: He's weak in the head. He doesn't even know how to read.

It's not high-class humor, but it's simple and fun. Watching it has also expanded my vocabulary of curse words in both Romanian and Russian. Now that's the kind of Moldovan culture I like.

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At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Lilia said...

"Watching it has also expanded my vocabulary of curse words in both Romanian and Russian. Now that's the kind of Moldovan culture I like."

That's sad. Hope you get it out of your head soon.

At 4:14 PM, Blogger Peter Myers said...

It's not language for me to use. It's language for me to understand when crazy beggar ladies start screaming and throwing rocks at the windows of the McDonald's, like one did today.

At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Ionas Aurelian Rus said...

The Cleopatra Stratan case does remind one a bit about JonBenet Ramsey, so I definitely agree with Peter on his first point. I also realize that it takes a lot of courage for Peter to say what he said.
By the way, the son of one of my friends, a deputy district attorney in a Colorado County, was supposed to be one of the three prosecutors in the trial of John Mark Karr, the person who confessed that he killed JonBenet, but didn't.

All the best,


At 7:04 PM, Anonymous Ionas Aurelian Rus said...

From what Peter says, one gets the sense that the Moldovan Matrix is quite funny. It might be done in bad taste, but so is Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part 1, yet I have watched it several times.

All the best,


At 11:48 PM, Blogger Charles Myers said...

From my small sampling, I'd say that Moldovans have is large part of the hearts for sappy children on TV. I remember the hour-long little kids dancing on a giqnt-flower decorated stage for Women's day in Match when we were there. Cute for 3 minutes one time... takes a native to want it for an hour or to listen daily.

And, if you follow the link on Peter's base page to her on YouTube, there are more videos than one would think possible for a three-year old.

At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Lilia said...

Peter, it's not the vocabulary I'm worried about, it's the fact that you're liking it. So i really do hope you get over it soon. I don't want you to leave Moldova with that in mind. Our culture is as rich as it is unknown and misterious. Cleopatra Stratan is not our culture. Vulgar-Matrix isn't either.

At 3:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Pete,
I'm a Moldovan and I find planeta moldova funny at times. At times it is overreacted, but sucks and it surely makes it funny. Check it out and let me know what you think. Matrix rests...
P.S.My favourite is Prikoke and Cana.
The hysterical part is that if you really come to think about...this is how moldovans are.No offence, I'm a Moldovan too.

At 9:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get a grip, people. It's just something that is sweet and takes people's minds off of their daily troubles for awhile. Why is that so wrong, and how is it so different than so many other things, like eating a cookie? Besides, children represent the future, and the future holds so much more promise than a past that many would like to leave behind so that they can move forward.


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