Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Guilty pleasures

HousewivesI'm starting to wonder about the Dutch taste in popular culture.

It started in the video store.  I usually browse the new releases, "DagFilm", expecting that I'll find recent big-screen blockbusters with a sprinkling of European art-house fare.  Instead, I find a few thrillers, a low shelf of cartoons, and a large rack of horror films.  I would estimate that fully half of the current fare are standard teen-slasher films (Tourista is a current favorite, just in time for vacation season).  It's a major genre of the racks in the back as well.  The "Comedy" selection skews heavily towards the "American Pie" genre, while the Action and Science Fiction sections crowd out Dramas and Local Films.

I've been trying to find a wider variety of current releases, or of older classic films, but no success. So far, I've had to rent a few and rip them to my hard drive while I'm in the US.

Similar strangeness dominates the local cable programming on UPC.  English-language programs include old and new bits of pop-America: Vegas, Magnum PI, CSI, Law and Order, but few other shows.  Dr. Phil and Oprah pop up from time to time, along with Jay Leno or Conan.  I'll skip past the Fashion Channel and the weekly reruns of "How the West Was Won" on TCM.  But it's an odd sampling of distant video culture.

Then there's the movie channels.  While Film 1 will occasionally show a fresh release or a classic, more often... not.  Tonight features Premonition (Depressed housewife learns her husband was killed in a car accident the day previously, awakens the next morning to find him alive and well at home, and then awakens the next day after to a  world in which he is still dead), Death of a President (Years after the assassination of President George W. Bush in Chicago, an investigative documentary examines that as-yet-unsolved crime), Timboektoe (A Dutch coming-of-age drama), and The Hills Have Eyes II (A group of National Guard trainees find themselves battling against a vicious group of mutants on their last day of training in the desert.)

It's started to make E! look appealing (Living Lohan, E! News, Red Carpet Retro, and Girls of the Mansion).

The On Demand movies include lots of films I would classify as 'Guilty Pleasures": Tom Cruise in Cocktail (When he pours, he reigns), Patrick Swayze's Road House (The dancing's over. Now it gets dirty), Stallone's Rambo (Heroes never die.... They just reload), then Bronson's Death Wish, Star Trek 5 and 6 (The worst of the series), Jurassic Park 3 (ditto), Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Saturday Night Fever (thank goodness not the sequel Staying Alive)...it goes on and on...

I began to suspect a trend.

Suspicion was confirmed when I discovered the On-Demand TV programs last week.  The first two full seasons of Desperate Housewives, lots of Criminal Intent, and much of Grey's Anatomy.  Little else.

One might argue that the US media companies are sending their bottom-shelf titles to the Netherlands. Or, one might suspect that Dutch taste tends towards...well...a steady diet of guilty pleasures?

And that's all right, with popcorn, on a Friday night, late.  But not all day, every day...

'and the worst part is, now I've gotten sucked into Desperate Housewives (The guilty pleasure returns...)

5 comments:

Textual Healer said...

Um yeah. I watched ten minutes of prime time saturday evening TV on one of the main Dutch channels recently. It was like that embarassing family stuff they used to play on BBC in the 1960s. Four young lassies dressed in identical milknmiad outfits singing a children song while four little girls shuffled their feet next to them looking like they didn't know they were there. Afraid I went back to the BBC.

A Touch of Dutch said...

I agree. I noticed this while sick in bed all week.

I'm personally loving the A-Team reruns. I never got into that while I was in high school & it's fun to watch now with my husband. He was a big A-Team fan. They were huge in the Netherlands!

I believe since I've come to the Netherlands, I have seen more showings of the Wesley Snipes/Tommy Lee Jones action thriller "US Marshalls" and the "Blade" series more than I can stomach via channels like Veronica and the RTL channels. But I am very thankful they don't dub over the dialogue as done so in countries like Germany. In Germany I was sad to see Eddie Murphy's many roles in the "Nutty Professor" dubbed over, even though I am not much of a fan of this film.

I'm a big Zone Reality fan and also I enjoy the Discovery Science and National Geographic channels.

Dave Hampton said...

TH: I watch the quiz shows on BBC (and feel grossly inadequate). The rest is impenetrable to american viewers (even football)...

TD: I can't believe I forgot the A-Team reruns: this must be the only place on the planet that plays marathon reruns every weekend. I've also developed a passing fascination with Al Jezeera, a minor crush on Jenny Harrison (the CNN WeatherWoman) each morning, and a fondness for House. And I agree that it's so nice not to have the dubbing (I try to translate the text faster than the actors say the lines).

Textual Healer said...

Impenetrable because of the specific cultural references? Or because its a different way of making TV (movies) - with the plots being less obvious etc? The UK crime thrillers (Morse etc) are a staple favourite here. BBC Prime is the best for seeing TV classics

Decora said...

I noticed that most of the shows that "tanked" back at home, seem to find a nice place in the netherlands fast. The ones that are successful take a little longer to be shown and are usually a couple of months behind. Also, crime dramas popular as it seems, and Oprah...