What’s Hot and What’s Not

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)

 The Simpsons

Way better than the Brady Bunch at exemplifying American values.

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 NBA pays extra if players are able to double as the team mascot."

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!

Converse Sneakers

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?

"If I had know that she would continuously exploit pictures of me on her blog, I would have never started dating her"

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 🙂

 Route 66

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… 300 more miles until the next Cracker BarrelOkay 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!


6 thoughts on “What’s Hot and What’s Not

  1. Those are some really random facts that Spaniards know about the US. The fact that they know about he Superbowl and cheerleaders from the Simpsons was really strange to me. I was thinking that other syndicated shows, like Friends or Seinfeld, would be higher on the list. Thinking about one of your previous posts, it does not surprise me that they’ve never heard of Ranch dressing. As Americans we can also be unfamiliar with other foreign products (like that dish soap and Nutella stuff you mentioned before). Finally, the Grizzles!? Before this post I’ve never heard of them before! ha That I think is the most random thing in the world. So they actually keep track of the team’s scores on a regular basis or Spaniards just choose that team to like out of a list of NBA teams?

    • What they put on salads here is olive oil, salt, and/or vinegar. Any type of salad dressing is not typical to have at home in your fridge. Ha and yes a lot of guys know about the Grizzlies! It’s not that they watch all the games, it’s just that they have heard of the team since a good Spanish guy used to play there. The first time I heard a student talk about that team I was so confused – but now that I know the background it makes more sense 🙂 (A lot of people know about the Bulls! but no on has heard of the Cubs or the White Sox)

  2. I am very grateful for tv shows like the Simpsons. Even tho we Americans are viewed as baffoons, I think it’s better than how the Mid-Eastern folks from Iraq and Afghanistan depict us.

    • Really?? How do they depict us in the Middle East?? At least the Simpsons was created by Americans and isn’t a parody that Spanish people made about us – that would be way worse!

  3. I’ve lived in TN for 17 years and I didn’t know we even had a team named the Grizzlies LOL

    The Simpsons – really – that is just plain sad. Why not the Gilmore Girls, 7th Heaven… Oh let’s face it, there’s A LOT on tv we wouldn’t want the world to identify with us isn’t there? Not that I don’t watch it – it’s just not how I’d like the world to see us i.e. Jersey Shore, Jerseylicious – in fact, any show with the name Jersey in it 🙂 And let’s not even go to how television portrays people from Tennessee. However, how can “quality” entertainment be stopped 🙂

    As for my knowledge of Spanish culture, it’s very limited. I think it really astonished Art and I when we were in Europe how much the news in other countries centered on the USA (our news, our economy, our products…) We hear so little about other countries in our newscasts (except wars) that we have a very insulated view of the rest of the world. We now make it a habit to get our news from BBC as we learn more from them about the world (and the USA) than we do our major American news stations.

    • I agree! It’s very strange, everyone else around the world knows so much about our culture, yet we know practically nothing about them! I think it’s because in the USA we dominate the world television, movie, and music market (the majority of the radio stations here play American music and the movie theater is full of American releases)

      And probably the Simpsons is so popular here because it’s a cartoon and therefore easier to “dub” (Here in Spain TV and movies never have subtitles – instead they use Spanish voice-overs) So maybe dubbing looks more natural with a cartoon? Just my thought!

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