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August 2000, Week 2


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 10 Aug 2000 10:36:29 -0400
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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>television, but these are frequently littered with cultural >references (often as jokes) which are utterly lost on British >viewers despite the shared language.  I'm sure there are lots of >examples but I can only think of a few (non-canonical) ones at

My favorite example:  John Cleese talks about showing "A Fish Called Wanda" to both American and British audiences.  In one scene Kevin Kline suddenly pulls a gun out of nowhere.  British audiences always laugh, Americans never do.  Cleese's reasonable (though perhaps too pat) explanation is that we Americans are so used to seeing guns, at least in our media, that it seems if not reasonable then at least unsurprising and therefore not comic (which was Cleese's intention).

Not understanding cultural differences/references can also be a benefit at times.  I've had several people from England who say that Americans can't get all the references in Monty Python TV shows and are surprised that there's such a fanatic and large Python audience here in the States.  But I think there's a direct connection in that since we *don't* understand all the British culture references the shows don't seem dated.  "Saturday Night Live" episodes from a few years later often seem too much of their time (and it was admittedly more deliberately topical) but might not for non-Americans.


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