The other night, we met up with another expat couple at a nearby Western restaurant. As we enjoyed our Carlsbergs and hamburgers, we chatted about movies. Or, more accurately, we tried to chat about movies. “Hey,” Nick piped up, “What was that hilarious movie with the kid from, um, ‘Arrested Development’ and the fat guy from that other movie?” All was silent for a moment, and then I said, “Oh! I know! Um, ‘The Hangover’! No, wait. That’s not it.” Elyse (our new friend) sputtered, “Jonah Somebody! Um…it was that movie about the high school kids? And they’re trying to get to that party? And there was, like, Mike Tyson’s tiger. Wait, no.” Pete (Elyse’s husband): “Seth Rogen! What the hell was that movie called, though? Oh my god.” Finally, after about ten starts and stops, we came up with “Superbad,” and then we fell silent again, exhausted in our mental victory of accessing this formerly-readily-available knowledge.
Living in China has turned the American pop culture part of our brains to mush. We are simply not exposed to the ins and outs of Hollywood: only 20 American movies a year are allowed shown in China, and there is a complete dearth of trashy English magazines. All this is probably for the betterment of our brains, but sad when you try to call up the name of an actor in casual conversation and find yourself going, “Jessica…um…from that one movie with the…thing…well, anyway. Kardashi—something or other? No…”
We’re going to have a lot of catching-up to do when we return to the States. Either that, or we’ll just be out-of-touch and a couple years behind forever. But at least we’ll know how to order at Chinese restaurants!