"Well..." she struggled to answer. "They don't have the same, standards I will say, when it comes to what is acceptable on television or advertising or shown on news stands." Hmm... whatever could she mean?
A few weeks after arriving here, we were listening to a local German radio station. The radio stations here play English songs about 75% of the time. We were driving along, listening to the radio announcer ramble away in German when the song started. And it started a little something like this- "What's my mother f***ing name! What's my mother f***ing name!"
Upon hearing this my kids said "Mom! How could you listen to that!" Apparently it's my fault for not being able to see into the future and know what song is going to start. We have come to find out that there is no such thing as the "radio edit" here in Germany. The kids will be listening to a song that they completely enjoyed back in the States. A song that they had no idea dropped the F bomb or was peppered with the S word. Not to call anyone out, but Black Eyed Peas, I'm looking your way...
When we go and play at the park it seems an impromptu game of Fußball always breaks out. When the German kids realize my children are American, there always seems to be an uptick in the number of F words that are said by the German kids when goals are missed or passes are incomplete. You might be wondering what the big deal is. We're a military family, how rare could these words be? Pretty rare at our house actually. Matt and I don't speak like that. Gosh and darn and heck usually are as colorful as we get. When we're really bugged freaking or effing have been known to slip out. I know! We really cut loose.
Not only do we hear these words, we see them on advertising posters. On our recent trip to Berlin, the U-Bahn stations all had signs with the F word. I have no idea what they were advertising. My favorite one said "Sh** Happens." It would seem sh** happens is a universal epithet crossing culture and language boundaries. We all know it's true. Sh** does happen. Why do we need a sign telling us though? I would have taken a picture, but I didn't to keep this blog firmly situated with a PG rating. And I know I would never hear the end of it from my kids if I actually typed out a swear word.
Not only do we hear more colorful language, we see much more of the human body. Mostly the female human body. Television programming isn't much of a problem. We get a special cable package put together especially for American ex-pats in Germany called TKS. The kids get their Disney and Nickelodeon craptacular shows and it keeps most of the skin to the much later hours. It's driving out and about that we get a little peep show. We recently passed a semi-truck that had woman from behind totally naked on the sides. Oh wait, I'm sorry. She wasn't fully naked, she was wearing a g-string made of dental floss. So she was nekkid.
When we drove to Austria last time we stopped in a gas station in the middle of nowhere. Right up there on the racks with all the gossip rags were the nudey magazines. Nipples galore on the covers. I completely ignored them, hoping my kids would do the same. Luckily, the nudey magazines seem to only be in gas stations out on long stretches of the Autobahn, not in towns. I've noticed that most of the vehicles stopped in these nudey-magazine-offering stations seem to be semi-trucks. It must get lonely on those long European roads. They could always just take a look at the sides of each other's trucks though.
After almost a year here, the swear words and occasional naked ladies have become just part of the background noise of Europe. We've just learned to walk right by. Except for Andre, my 8 year old. He never misses an opportunity to point out the lack of clothes or when he sees a swear word. "Mom! Did you see that?!"
"Yep. Sure did." The less of a reaction the better I think. After all, it's just another day in Europe.
What do you think? Do you think Americans are prudes? What would you tell your children?