You would think I’d have plenty o’ stories about how it feels to be finally here. I don’t. Instead, there’s something that has hit me in the few days I was here (okay, that may be one of the reasons there’s not a ton of stories just yet). It’s something a little peripheral, maybe one of those details that strike you about a country.
It’s radio commercials. Yeah. Not that exciting. But it’s such a shock to hear radio commercials for Planned Parenthood. We have the same sort of clinics, but they tend to operate a little under the radar (which, I believe is a good place to be for business that’s so personal and intimate). I actually worked next to a Dutch version of Planned Parenthood, which was sometimes a little weird; especially that one time there was a protest going on. It was a protest from a left wing political group, a protest with a party theme of ‘Rebel without a cause’, because there was no incentive or legislature to protest against. The protest consisted of one fat, middle aged woman in a bikini handing about flyers. One of those moments where you have to actively tell yourself that freedom of speech is a good thing, also for fat, middle aged women in a bikini defending the rights of an institution that nobody is actively disputing.
Apart from my personal feelings toward what is promoted in the ads, I will probably be uncomfortable for quite some time with what American media deems appropriate and what gets filtered out. The lyrics from songs I knew from Dutch radio suddenly make no sense, because words that don’t rhyme came in the place of the original words. At the same time, you get the things that belong only in a doctor’s office yapped about on television and on the radio. Yesterday I listened a full minute to side effects of an anti-depressant that are basically enough to make you need the stuff. I know a lot of words in English that I am never allowed to say in public, but that I learned from American movies and series. I think Dutch culture is rougher, with less taboos, but also is more subtle about a lot of things in life. Maybe the tension just is reversed in both countries, making it all the more obvious for me. I’ll let you know how that works out.