Wie ich heute fast auf die Gleise geschubst wurde.

Oder auch: Spaß als Blockwart.

In Berlin ist auf allen Bahnhöfen der BVG das Rauchen verboten. Mangels Personal wird das aber nur halbherzig bis gar nicht durchgesetzt. (Es gibt da Lautsprecheransagen. hah!) Im Ergebnis sind fast immer Raucher auf dem Bahnhof.

So auch heute. Meine Freundin hat Asthma, und als ich da heute eine ganze Gruppe rauchender Jungspunde sah, konnte ich ausnahmsweise nicht an mich halten.

Macht Ihr mal bitte die Kippen aus? Meine Freundin hat Asthma, das ist echt Scheiße.“

Innerhalb von gefühlt 5 Sekunden war ich umringt. „Was willst Du“, „verpiss Dich!“, „Du sagst uns gar nix!“ und so weiter. Mein Hirn schaltete in diesem Moment auf stur, und ich sagte denen, dass das einfach Arschlochverhalten sei, Rauchen nicht ohne Grund auf Bahnhöfen verboten sei, und ich schon weggehen würde, wenn sie einfach nur die Zigaretten ausmachen.

Mehr Kontra, mehr umringen. An dieser Stelle war ich dann womöglich etwas blöd, und nahm einem die mir ins Gesicht gehaltene Kippe einfach ab und warf sie weg. Jetzt geht das Schubsen los (wir sind keine zwei Meter von der Bahnsteigkante entfernt), meine Freundin wird deutlich unruhig, Passanten aufmerksam.

Das Ganze endet damit, dass die Jungspunde sich gegenseitig festhalten, Drohungen ausgespuckt werden, und Passanten mich vom Geschehen wegziehen. Jepp, es ist nun einmal Sache des Opfers zu deeskalieren. „Der Klügere gibt nach“ und so.

BVG schreibt, man solle sich an die Polizei wenden, dann könne man das Videomaterial sichten. Und dann? Das ist doch Humbug. Zum einen geht es mir gar nicht um die Jungspunde. Das sind (zwar erwachsene) Halbstarke, denen will ich das Leben nicht versauen.

Und was soll das bringen, jetzt die Polizei einzuschalten? Sollen die auf die paar Halbstärke, die auf den Videos wahrscheinlich nur so gerade eben erkennbar sind, eine Schleierfahndung ansetzen? Und dafür soll ich mir den Abend versauen und lange Zeugenaussagen machen? Ich will, dass die BVG ihr Sicherheitspersonal nicht dazu verwendet, Schwarzfahrer oder schlafende Obdachlose, die niemanden etwas tun zu kontrollieren, sondern um genau die Verhaltensregeln durchzusetzen, die zur Sicherheit da sind.

Aber das braucht deutlich mehr Personal, und dann auch noch geschultes.

Lektion? Was bleibt, wenn man sieht das wer am Bahnhof raucht, und das einen stört? Ignorieren, weggehen.

Was denn sonst? Sicherheitsdienst rufen? Bis der von drei bis fünf Bahnhöfen weiter weg da ist, sind Zigarette und Raucher lange weg. Polizei? Ich bitte Sie! Die Raucher ansprechen? Siehe oben.

Nein, das einzig richtige ist: Leise ärgern, weggehen, vielleicht zuhause noch etwas weiter ärgern. Und wenn dann später mal was anderes passiert, macht man das eben genauso.

Nein, ich hab hier und heute keine Moral anzubieten.

Terrifying German Culture Hour — Advertising

A while ago, I explained how we have fewer adbreaks here in german TV. Of course, we cought up a bit over the years, but it’s still a socialist paradise in comparison. But there is also of course a distinct… german-ness to the ads I was seeing as a kid and young adult. Even when these ads were supposed to take place in a big city in the USA:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfp2Bg6iUdY

I, and probably a lot of my german friends were utterly convinced that this is America. Cars, cool people, sunshine, car telephones, the works. Nothing in this ad struck me as anything but American.

Boy was I wrong. My girlfriend insisted that all the US kids were constantly weirded out by this odd german ad. How can this be? Nothing german ever makes it across the pond, right? Well, I went to the Internet and found out that this is indeed a work by  Pahnke & Partners. („Pahnke“ being such a cliché german name, I still think it must be a subsidy of Pahlgruber & Söhne)

Still, we also had ads that were much more distinctively german. They then mangled Mozart for fun and profit (with very subjective measures of fun):

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1sUSnzgrD4

And yes, every brand needs it’s distinctive jingle, here’s the one for Lagnese ice cream:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkHmMUD6Rdo

(„Nogger“ is, by the way, named after it’s nougat core. Pop culture germany was and often still is ignorant when it comes to how to handle race issues. That slogan roughly translates to „get a Nogger on“, and it still boggles my mind.)

At least, that song got a country makeover to make it better:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsOvjAtBWFw

Eventually though, german advertisers cought on and some brands went for.. something different.

Ever heard of „Einstürzende Neubauten“? (translates to „collapsing new buildings“) If not, here’s a sample of their work:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiQ7IbJEsoE

The lead is Blixa Bargeld, and he did amazing spots for the DIY chain Hornbach:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kdLmXRmEec

In case you wondered: He’s reading copytext from the stores catalog.

Later on, Hornbach goes full on feelings:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk5-bH0WQOQ

And before you doubt me, yes, germans are pretty serious about nails:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtyKNbWpfFw

So, modern german advertising has understood how to do viral buzz. And some agencies are really good at turning a brand around.

I live in Berlin, and Berliners love to complain about the BVG, the state-owned company that runs public transit. In fact, Ton Steine Scherben, the band from a previous installment actually have a song that calls for actual revolution over not paying the tickets:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-Zkkm76-_0

Of course, everything is relative. Aforementioned american girlfriend is happy and content that the U‑Bahn here isn’t on actual fire:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCyFqsNmsCo

But the BVG social media team has managed to turn things around. They actually run a store where you can buy various things with their trademarked seat pattern. And who wouldn’t want to wear this tanktop?

They also maintain quite the twitter feed and occasionally make even international splashes with their Youtube videos (The only line you need to understand is „Is mir egal“, which translates to „I don’t care“.):

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEYim54pJ00

And of course, classical music:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnXnLeo54FA

Hey, JollyOrc, that is no classical music, that is.. horrible 80ies synthpop!“

Well, you’re not quite correct. This is a cover of „Ohne Dich“, one of the bigger hits during the 80ies, originally by the Münchner Freiheit:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoZ8naG0sj0

Every german in the 80ies knew this song, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t quite a few millenials who got conceived to this..

Of course, the opening salvo for this kind of viral, very german advertising came from Edeka, an until then, solidly square supermarket chain:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxVcgDMBU94

Friedrich Liechtenstein is a bonafide classical actor, artist and all around cool dude. But please, pretty-please, don’t confuse him with this swiss dude:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9z3G-duHdQ

This ad ran so often in german TV that the inevitable happened: A eurotrash music video:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL7-yqFrkWY

 

Terrifying German Culture Hour: Dinner for One

If you’ve ever spent new years eve in germany, you probably have encountered this: Dinner for One

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BN9edpdCH7c

This sketch, performed by two british variety actors (and tumblers) is a german ritual for generations by now — despite the fact that it is indeed performed in english, without any german subtitles.

Millions of germans will devote about 15 minutes sometime at new years eve to watch this clip. Slavishly. If there is no TV, modern germans will happily gather in a corner of their chosen party location, huddle around the biggest phone screen they can find and fire up YouTube.

Why?

For once, this sketch is hilarious. I mean, look at the butler stumbling over the stuffed tiger, that is solid comedic gold. And the voices he makes!

The other reason? Frankly, I have no idea. Ritual. Like the thing with the Berliner, Pfannkuchen, Kreppel, Krapfen that we insist on gobbling down at the same time. (The vast regional variety of names for food is another post. Rest assured that when ordering a Pfannkuchen, you’ll get vastly different things, depending on where you order it)

But that aside, if something is beloved, there will be copies, hommages.. remixes. One obvious thing of course is recreating it in german language. As I wrote earlier, if it is foreign tv in germany, we dub it, or, even better, remake it:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8rM7-jZeuE

If you didn’t understand a word, even though you learned german at school, you’re forgiven. This is Kölsch, one of the many wonderful german dialects.

There’s also Bayrisch:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGvpXy55x-M

Fränkisch:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfSgD3drWyo

with well-known comedians (Miss Sophie is portrayed by the musical genius from this earlier post)

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BerPLxA7uE

And only germans can appreciate the genius of Downfall for one:

https://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​z​g​c​Z​m​2​H​_​WWg

Netflix, savvy as they are, recognized the cultural significance of Dinner for One and made a YouTube ad in this vein:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhiHT9kOdxc

It becomes slightly problematic if someone confuses the seasons and performs this sketch during the fifth season (which is the Karneval. Another post for a later time):

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHFvOfvG8VA

And to get the german kids hooked young, we also have a version with our beloved depressed square loaf, Bernd:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkS4H5fLcq4

Terrifying German Culture Hour — Ad Breaks!

While I was doing research for Terrifying German Culture Hour, something occurred to me:

German TV, especially in the 70ies and 80ies had way less advertising than comparable shows in the US.

That sounds like a trivial „so what?“ insight, but it is actually huge:

For starters, they did of course import TV shows from the US and aired them (dubbed) in Germany. But, where the US original would have three to four ad segments, the german one would have one or two.

And those blocks would actually be in the mathematical middle of the show, not where the showrunners intended them to be. So, we would watch the A‑Team, the van would race through some gate, a rocket launcher gets cocked, the screen goes black… and then comes back to show the conclusion. No ad-break. We thought those pauses were normal!

On the other hand, the german ad-breaks would then happen kinda mid-sentence. „yes, I love it when a plan comes… “ ad-jingle, Mainzelmännchen, a few advertisements, possibly with Prilblumen, more Mainzelmännchen, then „yes, I love it when a plan comes together. Get ‚em B.A.!“

Again, we thought that was normal.

The completely other thing: Anything that got aired after 20:00 came without any advertisement. So when the germans took Love Boat and remade it as Das Traumschiff, or General Hospital, remade as Die Schwarzwaldklinik, they not only made these things so very very german, but..

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG_Ha4B4NHc

…also expanded it to about 90 to 120 minutes, sans ad breaks. In case the implications aren’t immediately clear to you: Love Boat is a show that has a one-hour slot. That means 40 minutes plus advertising, with the arc of suspense optimized to having three mini-cliffhangers and a satisfying finale.

They took this format, stretched it to more than double the time and reworked the arc of suspense to not have the three mini-cliffhangers. The result was rather plodding and, compared to anything from the US, slow.

The real kicker here is that due to the bureaucracy of german public tv stations, this sort of plodding and timing became the defacto standard of german tv productions for decades. The main production company is still adhering to the formulas laid down in that era, instead of doing more KLIMBIM:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zlurwOsma0

Yes, kids could and did watch this.