Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Azeri Entertainment at the Gym

On Sunday it was pouring rain, so I had to run on the treadmill at the gym. When I use the treadmill, I watch one of the TVs while listening to the music on my iPod. Most of the time I watch whatever is on the TV in front of my treadmill. But that TV was showing what I call "lame CNN," or the Stateside version of CNN. I prefer CNN International because it has a more worldwide focus. Stateside CNN is very US-centric and sensationalistic, like any other American newscast.

The TV next to the one with "lame CNN" was on a Ukrainian channel that was showing a news report. When the news ended, a show called, "Catastrophe" came on. "Catastrophe" shows various disasters like plane crashes, train derailments, building collapses, etc. But it seems to focus on how people miraculously survived those particular disasters, at least that's what I got from watching without sound. As I was watching "Catastrophe," a man started using a treadmill to my right and decided to change the channel. I was a little miffed because he didn't ask if he could change the channel. He probably figured that I was watching the TV with CNN, which was directly in front of my treadmill. But I was starting to get into "Catastrophe" and also getting some practice reading Cyrillic characters (I have been slacking off on my Russian studies lately, and  I know that Ukrainian is a different language than Russian. But they both use the Cyrillic alphabet.). I couldn't really complain since I was just watching the pictures on the TV and listening to music.

My fellow treadmill user changed the channel to Lider TV, which is a channel from Azerbaijan. For those who don't know where Azerbaijan is, it's located on the west side of the Caspian Sea near Armenia and Georgia. Azerbaijan is a former Soviet republic with the world's nicest people. I think that Azerbaijan means, "Land of the World's Friendliest People" in the Azeri language because the Azeri students I work with are very open and friendly.

The program on Lider TV that the other person on the treadmill wanted to watch was a very bad movie. It was the most low-budget movie that I've seen in a long time. It was sepia-toned, like a silent movie from 100 years ago. There seemed to be one camera angle. It was like the director never advanced beyond old silent movie filming techniques. The main characters in this film were members of a tribe in a jungle. All of the men in the movie had bad wigs with black shoulder-length hair. Their beards and mustaches were obvious fakes. Most of the men in the movie wore what looked like grass skirts, though there were a few who wore leopard print skirts. The few women of the tribe wore leopard print tops with their grass skirts. The chief wore a crown and the other men wore Viking helmets with horns, though several men wore headbands with Viking horns (they must have run out of money to buy helmets for all of the actors). But the best part of all was the tribesmen's teeth. They were supposed to look like fangs but ended up looking just like the plastic novelty teeth that my son gave out as party favors at his 10th birthday party.

There wasn't much action in this movie. The men did a lot of dancing around a fire and talking with each other. Sometimes they danced with spears and sometimes without them. At one point in the movie there was a dragon, which was really two people in a dragon costume. The tribespeople saw the dragon coming and fled as quickly as they could from it. What made that scene so comical was that the people in the dragon costume seemed to be moving out of synch with each other and extremely slowly. The tribe could have casually sauntered away from the dragon and still escaped from it. This movie really held my attention because it was so bad. I'm sure that if I could have heard and understood the dialogue, it would have been just as awful as the costumes. Sometimes it's best to just watch the action and listen to music. When I'm on the treadmill, it seems like I check the timer every 5 seconds because it gets pretty boring running in one place, even with music and silent TV. But I really got caught up in the hokeyness of that movie and actually kept my eyes on it instead of the treadmill timer. Maybe I just need to watch bad, low-budget foreign movies to keep indoor workouts halfway entertaining.

Another thing that I noticed about watching Azeri TV is the number of Western products that were advertised during the commercial breaks. I saw ads for: Nivea lotion, Dreft laundry liquid, Coca-Cola, and Pampers disposable diapers. It seems like as soon as Azerbaijan became independent from the Soviet Union, Western companies started selling their products there.

I'm hoping for some good weather so that I can run outdoors. But if I end up using the treadmill in the gym, I'll have to check out Lider TV's Low Budget Cinema to help pass the time.

No comments:

Post a Comment