Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bieber Fever and American Pop Culture in Georgia

When I first met my students they asked the usual questions like "What State are you from?" and   "Do you have a brother or sister?" But one question that has stuck out, and has constantly made me wonder is the "Do you like Justin Bieber?" question. Now, after spending this past summer teaching  a hip hop dance routine to Bieber's "Baby, Baby" song to the kids at the Hempstead Boys and Girls Club summer camp, I was well aware of the Bieber effect. However, I never would of thought he would of made it all the way over to the little country of Georgia! 

You would be surprised of how many of my students (well, mostly my girl students) who are madly in love with Bieber! They know all the words to his songs, and have memorized his dance moves. If my students are shy in class one day, I know to always bring up the subject of Justin Bieber. We played a celebrity guessing game in my 8th form class a few weeks ago, and one student had to guess who all the other students were pretending to be. Of course the first one to be guessed correctly was Tamera as Justin Bieber because everyone knows she's crazy for him! 

This madness for Bieber made me start thinking about American pop culture in general in Georgia. The most obvious is the television shows. There is a Georgian type Oprah, The View, The Late Night Show , SNL, Survivor and Friends just to name a few. They are all casted with Georgians and speak only Georgian, but they are most definitely influenced by its American counterparts. They even have an American Idol type show called Geo Star. And believe me Georgian families are just as obsessed as American families are. For a country that less than 20 years ago just created their first independent TV channel (post USSR) this is quite incredible!

The Late Night Show

Georgian Survivor (Tamara, the winner, actually works for my english teaching program)

Geo Star (Georgian American Idol)

Part of me is proud that American pop culture has made it all the way over to my favorite former USSR country, but at the same time it makes me wonder how much this effects Georgian culture. I know that Georgians are no where ready to give up their Henri Joxadze and Eter Kakulia (Ia Ia song) for Eminem and Rihanna. But I wonder sometimes if they are so caught up in copying our shows and music that they will end up not producing any of their own ideas. I guess time will only tell, but until then I will continue to discuss Justin Beiber's ever changing bowl hair cut and fashion styles with my 11th grade girls if it will make them speak English. 

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