Monday, January 22, 2007

¿Dónde está Miami? ~or~ Where is Miami?

As I was getting ready to run errands the other day, I had the television on to provide background noise. I like background noise. I wasn’t really paying attention because I wasn’t watching television – I was just listening a little. The show hadn’t been on very long before I realized that it was Hogan Knows Best. Isn’t that what it’s called? One of the reality shows on VH-1? Hulk Hogan, former wrestling superstar, invites cameras in to film his family?

I commented on Becca’s blog that I don’t watch much reality TV. Top Chef is my favorite. Flavor of Love is my guilty pleasure. I guess I’ve had the Hogan family on enough to recognize their voices. I recognized the sound of the two kids complaining. They couldn’t get directions. They couldn’t order food.

This is where I started to get mad. Based on my half-hearted listening, I assumed they were on vacation because the focus of this show seemed to be the Hogan children’s inability to communicate with people in stores. These people were speaking Spanish. I could not believe the gall of these spoiled, obnoxious American kids who went on vacation and expected the people to cater to them and speak English. I was livid. No wonder the rest of the world has such disdain for Americans. They may envy our freedoms but our people are just fucking rude.

I started paying a bit more attention when the Hogan mom began talking about the whole family taking Spanish lessons. I was a bit confused but assumed they must be on an extended vacation. Intrigued, I started watching the show.

They weren’t on vacation. They’d moved. They had not moved out of the United States. This family was taking Spanish lessons so they could live and communicate in MIAMI. Miami, Florida. In the United States of AMERICA.

The Hogans could not get directions, could not buy vitamins, could not hire/direct household staff without first learning to speak Spanish. In Miami. Florida. USA.

Ladies and Gentlemen: That’s fucked up.

Please don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Latinos or the Spanish language. I might, inadvertently, offend by my ignorance of Latino vs. Mexican vs. Spanish but I don’t have any dislike for anyone based on their country of origin. It’s like this. I’ve been to Juarez and Cancun. I’ve been to Munich and Frankfurt. I’ve been to Korea. Not once did I expect that anyone from any of those countries would speak my language. Granted, I was in Korea as a child and we lived on a US military installation but I was in Mexico and Germany as an adult. I went with the knowledge that English was not the native language in those countries. It would have been arrogant to expect anyone to understand me.

Why should Americans living in America have to learn to speak Spanish in order to live in an American city? That’s just wrong. In my humble opinion, that is so very, very wrong.


Jane said...

I know enough Spanish to order a beer and find a nude beach.

When I was in high school, I made it my goal to learn the sentence "Help! My head is stuck in the elevator door!" in every language I could. So far, I know just the one. English.

Ima Wurdibitsch said...

This is shameful but I was president of my high school Spanish class and all I can remember now is how to order a beer and find a bathroom. Okay, it's not quite that bad but it's close. I'm fairly certain that non-use has degraded my ability. When I was in Mexico, I started picking up the language again.

In German, I can say hello, count to ten (with a quick review), order a beer, find a bathroom, and tell you that in case of fire you should take the stairs instead of the elevator. I used to know how to tell you that cigarettes would kill you.

I can say hello in Korean and order food. I know a few obscene words/phrases.

I can, with a little review, count to ten in Danish.

I can give toasts in various languages. My favorite is Zulu. The toast? Oogy wa-wa!

Anonymous said...

I watched this episode and was disgusted. Visit my hometown, El Paso, Tejas, you would be hard pressed to find a newspaper in English.