If you were to ask a Spanish guy if he wanted Ranch Dressing on his salad – he probably wouldn’t have foggiest idea what you were talking about. Ask this same guy something about the Memphis Grizzlies NBA team, however, and he probably would be able to have a conversation with you!
My point isn’t that Spaniards are obsessed with basketball (or that that are anti-condiments) – rather that there exists certain things from American pop culture that are “common knowledge” in Spain. There are even some American things, in fact, that I would argue are even more popular over here than they are in the States. Confused? Allow me to break it down for ya 😉
American Things that are (Curiously) Popular in Spain
(In no particular order)
I wasn’t into watching The Simpsons while growing up – so maybe this show just seems more popular here than in the US because it was never on at my house, but even so, this show is a hit over here!
I’ve had more than one Spanish person tell me that they tune in to watch the Simpsons everyday while having lunch – and it’s not uncommon to see guys on the street wearing t-shirts paying homage to this American classic. Also, many of my English students know things about American culture because they saw it depicted in this show (cheerleaders at sporting events, the super bowl, decorating the outside of your house with Christmas lights ect…)
Admittedly, The Simpsons is (was in it’s prime?) a very well written and funny show – but it’s a little unsettling to me that this is the source of many people’s knowledge of American family life…. I swear we aren’t all donut eating degenerates!!
What do you think about The Simpsons’ popularity in other countries? Are you worried it portrays Americans in a unfair/negative way?
The Memphis Grizzlies
I wasn’t kidding about this one! I’m not a big follower of the NBA but this team isn’t wildly popular in the States, is it? Originally I would have thought that Spaniards would have been down with NBA teams that always win titles like the Lakers or something – but the Grizzlies, I have learned, is on their radar because a famous Spanish guy used to play there.
The guy in the photo (named Pau Gasol for those of you who are clueless like me) comes from Barcelona and according to Wikipedia has been tearing it up in the NBA for the past ten years. No wonder his fellow Spanish fans follow his career so closely!
I realize that these are also popular in the USA – but here in Spain I think that they are more “main-stream” popular than “trendy” popular. What I mean is, Who is the typical Converse owner in the United States? I always think of a hip twenty-something-city dweller-mac user – right?
The above photo is what came up on Google Images when I searched “hipster” shoes. Therefore, I would conclude that Converse is a brand that use to be “mainstream cool” sense in the US and now is making a come back in the “my dad use to wear these so they’re so uncool that they’re cool” sense.
Anyway, here in Spain I would say the Converse sneakers (including the retro high-tops) are the people’s go to “every day for walking in the street shoe”. They’re not trendy, just popular, and I have seen everyone from little kids to mothers sporting them. In fact, Diego owns more than one pair and even wore some on one of our first dates! See?
Point is, Converse aren’t for “cool” people here (obviously, if Diego wears them 😉 ) Instead they’re popular gym shoes for all walks of life 🙂
Now this last one is the biggest “head-scratcher” for me – a lot of people I’ve talk to in Spain have told me that they would love to visit the US, rent a car, and drive the whole Route 66. I have no idea how they heard that said route exists or what would possess them to want purposely subject themselves to many days of cross-country driving through mostly Mid-Western USA.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Midwest, but really – Would you spend 800 Euros on a plane ticket for 100 plus hours of this… Okay yes, I am exaggerating a little. I admit that part of the Route 66 (that goes through the southwest US) would be fun to drive for a few days. I can also understand why someone from Spain would be excited to drive so many consecutive miles – around here if you drive for more than 7 or 8 hours in any direction you either reach the ocean or cross the border into France. From a typical American point of view, however, road-trips are a “means to an end” and are not viewed as the actual vacation.
That, my friends, a little glimpse of what parts of our culture have taken root here in Spain! 🙂 Do you agree with my opinions about what is popular and what is not in the US? Are you surprised that someone here probably knows what the Route 66 is but probably wouldn’t recognize Ranch even if a bottle of it hit him/her in the head?? 😉 What do YOU know about Spanish culture? Please share!