Friday, 12 February 2016

Worst Theme Song Ever--Why?

When the stalwarts make it through the third year of Edinburgh Uni's Polish night school classes, there is nowhere for us to go except back to the beginning of third year. You would think that after a few years of Third Year, we would all be chatting fluently about the latest Polish literature, but no. Occasionally we do discuss cinema, saying things like, "It was a good film", "No, I did not like it", or "It is a sad film. All Polish films are sad, naprrrrrawdę?" like the linguistic geniuses we are.

As a matter of fact, it is quite wrong and foreign to stick naprawdę on the ends of your Polish sentences, as Polish Pretend Son in his mercy saw fit to inform me. The Irishwoman beside me at class never makes such mistakes and indeed has a really good Polish accent. When congratulated on this highly desirable achievement, she said it came about because her Polish husband is so strict. Quite obviously the Polish wives and girlfriends of Perpetual Third Year students are much more easy-going than the Polish husbands, boyfriends and pretend sons and therefore not so helpful from a language learning point of view.

Teaching the same cast of characters Year Three over and over would get challenging for our teacher had she not a firm grasp of all the Polish resources available on the internet. Last week Year Three was introduced to the very clever, if highly embarrassing, Polish language series called "Uczmy się polskiego." It is hard to tell what year it is, but it looks like a last ditch attempt of the People's Republic to convince the world what a great place the People's Republic was. Besides, surely no capitalist democracy could produce such a terrible theme song:

Another clue that this is a communist-era production is the cynical appeal to the basest instincts of Polish as a Foreign Language learners. For example, in Episode 1 the hottie with the eyebrows is immediately smitten by the pudding-faced teenage girl wearing glasses. Clearly this was an tempt to convince pudding-faced teenage girls who wore glasses to defect to the PRL.

The Commies were also obviously trying to use the beautiful blond Polish mother as a sexual trap for Western men, but they also quite obviously underestimated the massive symbolic power of the Polish Mother. Should a Western man have come across Mrs Gregory in some airport, he would have fallen at her feet and wept rather than have even imagined sullying her Polish Mother purity. Naturally any Western man who watched this series massively resented goofy-looking Mr Gregory and wondered what Mrs Gregory could have seen in him.

Still another clue is that when Grandma in Episode 2 comes to visit, she looks around the crumbling concrete Stalinist horror that is the Gregorys' new sink estate and says, in all seriousness , "Nice neighbourhood."

But let us get back to the hottie who for some inexplicable reason has fallen instantly in love with the bespectacled dame reading Robinson Crusoe. (Why Robinson Crusoe? Does she feel that she has been  stranded on the island of the sink estate and has been longing for some Man Friday to come along? Or does Robinson Crusoe symbolize the Cute New Guy Who Is Moving Into the Building? Discuss---preferable po polsku.) Research shows that Marek's real name is/was Filip Kalczyński and he was born in 1977. So let us do the math.

Hmm. Hmm. Hmm. Berlin Wall fell in 1989... my mother cried tears of joy... my history teacher seemed very pleased about it all...nobody advised me to learn Slavic languages at once and make a million dollars in the newly opening markets....

Dash it! If I have his birth year right, in 1989, Marek-Filip was only 12. So that means he was only 13 when the PRL ended and that shoots my whole hermeneutic of  Reds-Under-the-Bed suspicion to blazes.

I can no longer give a credible explanation of why the theme song is so brow-wrinklingly terrible. But meanwhile, this is is a very clever way of teaching students how to understand Polish when they hear real, live Poles speaking it.

Update: Naturally you are dying to point out the very early appearance in this video of a Coke bottle. Well-spotted. The first Polish Coca-Cola office was set up in Warsaw in 1991 but so far research has not uncovered when the demon drink returned to the Ojczyzna. Neither has it turned up the date of the series.

The early appearance of the Coke and Sprite bottles plus the flags-of-the-world could suggest a weird mash-up of the new politics and the old. Commies were always big internationalists, hence the current lefty obsession with erasing borders, so the football means nothing. But the Coke bottle, I admit. That's another serious blow to my theory.


  1. I've only watched like 2 and a half minutes of this video and it's already probably the best thing I've ever seen

  2. I use this series for learning Polish. You get used to the theme song and the plot is actually not that bad after all (although the actors are very awkward). The textbook says the series is from 1993. /Emilka

    1. My theory is thus totally exploded. Thanks for solving the mystery of the date! I looked here, I looked there, and I could not find the original date anywhere.

      I actually like the actors. They must have been real troupers, smiling through all the Basic Polish for Foreigners dialogue.

  3. The girl is actually kind of cute behind the glasses.