Se scrie iar despre 'La Europa', de data asta in The Scotsman. Dincolo de aprecierile de principiu la adresa sitcom-ului romanesc, articolul ofera o noua ocazie de protest impotriva superficialitatii scandaloase a ziaristilor occidentali care n-au alta treaba mai buna de facut decit sa ne ponegreasca tara la cafeaua de dimineata. Articolul e doar un pretext ca ziaristul sa aduca vorba despre educatia maselor cu televizorul, narav mostenit de la Ceausescu, ca si despre Dallas-ul de Slobozia si despre popularitatea lui Larry Hagman in Romania - o tara in care, se arata in articolul din The Scotsman, vrajitoria este o ocupatie legala, oamenii isi tin animalele in camerele din fata si existenta vampirilor este acceptata de o minoritate numeroasa. Cititi si protestati - insa, dat fiind ca e vorba de Scotia, s-ar putea sa avem mici probleme cu directionarea sa: la Edinburgh, la Glasgow, la Londra sau direct la Bruxelles?
* Two litres of lager and a pocket of euros CLARE CHAPMAN http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1013092004 WITH its directives on the correct shape of fruit, production quotas, wine lakes and butter mountains the EU is baffling at the best of times. So now Brussels is funding a sitcom to explain the finer points of membership of the trading bloc to the Romanian public. The TV show's simple tales of how to slaughter a pig to EU regulations, how to use barcodes and breed goats in the best traditions of European Union approved animal husbandry, has made The Winding Road to Europe an unlikely smash hit in the former communist state. Bureaucrats backed the show in an effort to educate the country where witchcraft is a registered trade, people keep farmyard animals in their front rooms and the existence of vampires is taken as fact by a large minority. They hope the sitcom will improve the understanding of the modern world and the organisation. Romania is hoping to join the EU in 2007 when another expansion of the now 25-member bloc is planned. But together with Bulgaria, the country is also one of the poorest in Europe, and in many regions the EU is a distant organisation that people know almost nothing about. Set in the fictional La Europa (To Europe) pub with a cast of uneducated rustics, villagers pop in and out of the bar with a frequency that staff at the Queen Vic or Rovers Return could only dream of, and Romanian viewers are watching with undisguised fascination as they tell each other how wonderful their lives will be in the EU. Halfway through the 12-episode series Romanians already appear not to be able to get enough of the show. Gabriel Giurgiu, creator of the series, said the humorous stupidity of the characters was the best way of getting across information about the EU to those who would otherwise find it hard to understand. "Not just people in rural regions, but also those in urban areas watch it simply because it is funny and easy to understand," he said. "The characters speak in their own, fairly simple language that is easy to understand and explain what's what with EU rules and regulations. "We decided that all these characters should have a chat in the local pub. People don't go to the town hall or church to chat and discuss news, they go to the pub." The use of television to educate the masses is nothing new in Romania. In the 1970s former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu broke with the Communist tradition in banning broadcasts of Western TV programmes and allowed people to watch Dallas to distract them from their troubles. The show and its actors still enjoy cult status today in Romania with Larry Hagman one of Romania's favourite stars. Viewers have warmed to the antics of the characters in the show, who are seen as stereotypes of rural Romania, including the eurosceptic, the youth who wants to get out and make a name for himself in the big city, the businessman and the cynical drunkard. It has an audience that includes 60% of Romania's rural population, according to state TV which broadcasts the show. Every Sunday they sit down to watch The Winding Road to Europe, with the episodes having such exciting titles as 'Breeding Norms', an episode in which farmers are told how their goats, pigs, cows and other animals have to be bred to EU standards. In another episode, a man called The Professor, who set up a snail farm to cash in on capitalism when the Iron Curtain fell, explains to fellow drinkers about barcodes, computers and the internet. In each episode the characters discuss the opportunities of the EU and what being part of the economic bloc could do for them. Some at first may not understand - "I'll give you a barcode so big you won't be able to carry it," says one villager. But doubters are won over and the confused enlightened as the wonders of life in the EU are explained. And if anyone is still wavering after that the omniscient barmaid-cum-pub-owner Bonguta sets them straight with dark warnings of what will happen if they don't embrace the EU. "If not, at Christmas we'll be eating yoghurt and mashed beans," she says in one episode. EU officials even appear as cameos in the shows, including Britain's EU ambassador to Romania Jonathan Scheele, to reinforce the message. The show, which only costs £17,000 per 15 minute episode to make and was partly funded by the EU's office in Romania, was produced at relatively low cost by Western standards because of the cheaper wages that Romanian actors command for domestic series. The average monthly wage in Romania is around £100, and even leading TV stars cannot command Western fees for appearing in shows. The state TV, which airs the programme, admitted that the money provided by the EU went to pay the actors' salaries. The producers believe the show's message seems to be getting through. Constantin Vasile, 47, from Albesti, a village in southern Romania, said: "I do like the sitcom because it speaks my language and I got tired of those pompous statements from politicians who never know how to put things so that people like me can understand. "Now I know, or at least I know more about, how I should sacrifice my pig at Christmas and my lamb at Easter. I still have some issues about the vegetable norms but at least now I know there are some norms." Ana Amoraritei, 52, from Tomsani, a village in southern Romania, added: "It may be a bit too late for someone like me to remember all these rules and stuff they tell us in the show, but at least my two sons who watch it can make use of it. "We always watch it because we're around the television at that time on Sunday and we can all do with a good laugh." DEEP IN THE HEART OF SLOBOZIA THE popularity of Dallas in Romania during the Ceausescu years was so great that even today - almost 15 years since the regime was toppled in a bloody revolution - Larry Hagman, who played villainous JR Ewing, has a massive following among Romanians. A Romanian businessman, Ilie Alexandru, was such a huge fan, he created Southfork Land, a theme park and resort based on the Ewing ranch in Dallas in Slobozia, south-east of Bucharest. Special TV programmes dedicated to Hagman and his career are aired at regular intervals on Romanian TV, and in the late 1990s JR could be seen plastered on giant billboards at the side of Romanian roads advertising east European oil companies. Hagman himself has said he still gets bags of fan mail from Romanians and once described himself as "killer" popular among Romanians. When asked about Hagman, people of all ages speak in excited or awed tones about the man many regard as the greatest soap actor of all time. "He may have been a villain but he was the one we wanted to watch all the time," said Nicolae Nan, 63. "Larry Hagman as JR was fantastic. If I met him now I'd shake his hand and say thank you, you're the greatest." Bucharest student Nadia Ciofu, 22, added: "I was barely born when JR was on the screens here but we all know about him. If I could pick any one actor to have a dinner date with it would be him." ______________ EuroAtlantic Club monitoring Romania's efforts to join the EU http://www.europe.org.ro/euroatlantic_club/ mail to: P.O.Box 13-166, Bucharest 70700 e-mail to: [EMAIL PROTECTED] [Non-text portions of this message have been removed] ------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor --------------------~--> $9.95 domain names from Yahoo!. Register anything. http://us.click.yahoo.com/J8kdrA/y20IAA/yQLSAA/DXOolB/TM --------------------------------------------------------------------~-> Sageata Albastra e cea mai mare tzeapa a transportului public! Yahoo! Groups Links <*> To visit your group on the web, go to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/protest-ro/ <*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to: [EMAIL PROTECTED] <*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to: http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/