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Another reason why globalization is good

I am in Antwerp. As well as being a city of great economic importance as one of Europe’s largest ports, and also one of those great Dutch trading cities in which modern capitalism was invented in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Antwerp is today a very cool city: full of great bars, interesting shops, jazz clubs, assorted types of cafe, you name it. This afternoon, after drinking two or three glasses of fine Belgian beer while listening to a piano and bass jazz duo, I got on the metro to go back to my hotel. (The Belgians are the first people I have encountered who have managed to make a single line metro system confusing to use, but I digress). I found myself sitting in a seat on the metro platform, waiting for a train.

Suddenly, quite softly, I heard a familiar song being sung. It was one of the songs from the famous musical epsiode of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. As I do happen to count knowing the lyrics (and far too much dialogue) of Buffy amongst my many skills, I paused for a moment or two and (perhaps it was the beer) joined in. After a few seconds, the girl noticed that there was somebody else singing and stopped, and seemed slightly embarrassed to be caught doing this. However, I mentioned that as someone who personally owned six seasons of Buffy on DVD, I was unlikely to think less of her for singing songs from Buffy. (There is also the minor matter that she was quite beautiful, and few guys mind it if a beautiful girl is a little embarassed).

She said that she was still waiting for the DVDs of season 5, as she is buying the US versions. (It is a point of dispute amongst Buffy fans as to whether the US or European DVDs are better. The European ones have been released first and are in widescreen, but the US ones are cheaper and have more special features, including a particularly hilarious commentary track on one episode from Seth Green. So we discussed this briefly. But once again I digress).

She expressed her surprise about the whole thing: she said that she sings that song when walking the dog, but that nobody had ever recognised it before. She said this in an accent I couldn’t quite place: it sounded sort of posh English, but it wasn’t quite that. So I asked her. She said that she was Argentine, but that she had lived in England for a time, and also had spent a while in Germany. I could sense that there was more to the story than this, But that was as much as I got.

If I was writing this in a film script, this would have been a wonderful example of what Roger Ebert calls a “meet cute”, and I would have no doubt used the whole episode as an excuse to invite her back to the jazz club, and it would have ended up being a wonderfully amusing story to tell our grandchildren.

But, sadly, there is something that I have left out of this story, which is that the girl in question was not alone. She was with a young Belgian man, obviously a boyfriend. So, I chatted with them a little until my train came, wished them goodbye and boarded my train.

I am not sure that there is a point to this story, other than that a globalised world in which I, an Australian who lives in London, can spontaneously start singing a song from a musical episode of a television series of light gothic horror set in a Californian high school with a beautiful somewhat anglicised Argentine woman in an underground train station in Antwerp is something I like immensely. And also, Joss Whedon is a genius.

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12 comments to Another reason why globalization is good

  • Bombadil

    Buffy in widescreen? I thought the original shows were shot in 4×3 … how can they be in widescreen?

    I checked amazon.co.uk and didn’t see any reference to the Buffy sets being in widescreen either … are you certain on this?

  • jk

    Widescreen AND Season Six is out??? I am one jealous Yank.

    Great story.

  • Which song was it? Spike’s ‘Let Me Rest in Peace’? The one where Anya breaks into a big rock riff about bunnies? The Anya-Xander duet with the bit about “skeezy cheeses”? ‘You Make Me Complete’? That last one sometimes goes through my head too.

  • Dave The Australian

    Whatever! Angel was a far better show. I could hardly stand buffy by the end of it, so damn whiney.

  • Ann

    You’re not ready
    For the world outside
    You keep pretending
    But you just can’t hide
    I know I said
    That I’d be standing by your side
    But I….

    …Wish I could lay your arms down
    And let you rest at last
    Wish I could slay your demons
    But now that time has passed
    Wish I could stay

    That’s the one I usually find myself singing.

    That and Where Do We Go From Here. (Understand/we’ll go hand in hand/But we walk alone in fear/Tell me!)

  • Sandy P.

    So I will walk through the fire
    ‘Cos where else can i turn
    And i will walk through the fire
    And let it..

  • Bombadil: Almost all television programming has been shot in widescreen for a few years now, sort of. What I mean by that is that the important action all takes place within a 4:3 window, but the shot is framed in 16:9, and the special effects if necessary are done over a full 16:9 window. The image is then cropped to 4:3 for broadcast in most places. It is done this way so that if the world goes to widescreen TV in a big way later, then the programs can be rebroadcast in widescreen and it will look fine.

    In the UK, the widescreen versions have been broadcast in digital and put on the DVDs. (I think this started with season 4). I am sure about this. I have the DVDs.

    And the song was “Standing”, so points to Ann for singing the same one.

  • mmm… Anthony Stewart Head singing. I’ve had at least one British ex-pat complain about Giles’ and Spike’s accents on the show, though ASH is, in fact, from Great Britain (though his real accent is apparently not what us Americans would think of as upper-class. 🙂 I don’t think I ever thought of James Marsters’ accent as realistic but whattheheck, it’s utterly hilarious.

    So season six is out in Europe? We have to wait until June, and probably December 2004 for season 7. We can get Firefly now, however.

  • It also says something about the media industry’s attempts to introduce region encoding.

  • You forgot to mention that it was shot in Orlando, Florida. It had a plastic-people-and-places-set-in-a-swamp look. (At least, for the two minutes total that I ever watched the show, that’s what it looked like to me.)

  • Kresh

    Yes, Joss Whedon is a genius as well as a damn good public speaker.

    If you enjoyed Buffy, check out the sci-fi series “Firefly” which was released in the US yesterday. Written and produced by Mr. Whedon, it’s a smashingly good series that owes more to “Farscape” than “Star Trek” in atmosphere. Realistic characters with great interaction and decent special effects, its a great series.

    *sigh* Unsupported by Fox, never advertised, and not loved by the powers that be, Firefly never made it past 12 episodes and ended with a brief flash, much like its namesake. The ride was far too short…

  • Yes, and Fox showing the episodes in the wrong order didn’t help. The good news of course is that Firefly is now being made into a movie written and directed by Joss Whedon. (Fox passed on it but it was picked up by Universal). This should be fun.