Thursday, January 22, 2009

Our 15 minutes of fame continues....

Just wanted you all to know, that President Barack Obama (let me just say that again for the sheer joy of it) PRESIDENT Barack Obama was not the only one getting media attention on Inauguration Day.

OK, it's true, we were only featured again because we are the only Americans around here that they could find willing to be filmed watching the inauguration on TV. We are not sure if they don't know any other Americans or if the others aren't as willing victims.... maybe it is the cuteness of our three little ones?

The first time we were on TV (in France, anyway, see blog from 11/19/08 if interested) we were totally into the idea as it was a story about us (OK, mostly André) and the gist was the burning question in all the minds of all French citizens that I meet "So, why do you Americans want to come here, to Besançon?" This time it was different - it was more like "Hey, everyone is all hyped up over this Obama thing and we want to report on that and so we thought, hey those guys we interviewed before are americans! So can we ask you how you feel about the inauguration, and watch you watch it?" At first, we really debated over whether or not to say yes. I mean, they are going to come watch us watch TV??? (Isn't that a bit odd?) And what if we say the wrong thing - I mean, we are now representing the entire US population to all of Franche Compte! And, um, do they know we don't even watch TV? But, then we thought, who better than us? And also, when else do we get a chance to be on TV? This is obviously our chance for the notorious '15 minutes of fame' - so we'd better make the most of it!

I got very curious about this idea of 15 minutes of fame (a phrase I have heard my entire life and never investigated thus far) and, of course, decided to look it up on wikipedia...

Turns out the saying comes from Andy Warhol (for some reason, I thought it was Woody Allen - same diff, right?). André and I were talking about whether this is true or not though, and, especially with the advent of reality TV it seems like it might be true. But then, we got to thinking some more. I mean, there are like 6.7 billion people on the planet. Even if you take into account all the reality 'stars' and 'person on the street' interviews in the universe, there is no way that everyone gets 15 minutes of fame. We are a rarified bunch! This doesn't neccessarily mean we are to be envied, but, that's not the point. The point is, are we common??? I think not.

Anyway, back to the story of our fame.

They called André back a few days before the inauguration and said that, lucky day, they had found another American to come and watch with us. Is that OK? PLUS, they also wanted to interview him and the other American after the inauguration (about 7pm our time) on live TV besides the taped section. So.... you found some other American randomly? (How does all this work?) But, hey, we're game - bring her on over.

The big day arrives. I spend the afternoon cleaning house which included major rearranging of our living room so the TV would be faced by a couch (usually we have it turned around in a deliberate attempt to show our disdain for what my parents always referred to as the 'boob tube' and more recently is hailed as the 'idiot box'). We thought it would be rude (and bizarre for TV viewers) to ask our guest to sit on the floor.

We do not have high speed internet at home, so we decide to watch the videofeed on French TV (yes, they are showing it live on channel 2) and listen to the audio over the internet via NPR. It actually worked out great. I was relieved since I really wanted to listen in English. The other American arrived in good time, her name was Nancy, she has lived in Besancon for many years, spoke French and English perfectly and was very nice. I was suprised at how much I appreciated being able to share the moment with her - I wished there were more Americans about - this was a truly American moment. (As long as we are wishing, it would have been amazing to be home to watch it!) The TV crew asked her a few questions, André a few questions and even posed some to the kids. I was sure Zander would get on TV since they asked him - what is Obama going to do when he is president? and he said "Maybe fix the world." (Let's all hope that's true!) but no TV time for Zander! At least, with this blog, his answer will live on forever.

Hmm.... didn't they ask ME any questions? (I know this one has been burning in your mind). Well, no. I, apparantly, do not qualify for television. First off, I'm not a cute kid, and secondly, I don't speak French well enough to be decipherable. I find it helpful, in these types of situations, to remember what I read in this great book a friend (Caroline!) gave me right before we moved here.. it is called Almost French and the protagonist (an Australian living in France) advised people such as myself to imagine they are a chair whenever in French situations where you don't speak the language. This way, it does not hurt your feelings as much when you are ignored. I have found this advice to be incredibly helpful countless times since my arrival here.

Well, we watched the inauguration (both André and I crying and Zander so excited he was squealing!) and listened to the speech and headed for the kitchen to try to whip up some dinner before live TV time. Well, I didn't mind being a chair, but I had made zucchini cake for these people as well, and none of them (the TV crew was like 5 people) would even try it. Now, that, I think, was just unacceptable! We were then informed that it seemed that they would use Nancy on live TV, not both Nancy and André and would we mind that? Also, can we keep the kids absolutely as silent as possible since they need to use our living room for the interview? Well, OK - but since they had been pretty silent during the entire TV show (Griffin made sticker pictures and necklaces) they were ready for some noise and it was a major challenge. They did admirably though. I got lots of compliments on how good they were. I love it when people tell me my kids are well-behaved - makes me so proud.

Anyway, I think they sensed we were wanting a few more minutes of fame so, after the live portion, they asked to interview André again for a segment the next day. André, my true defender and hero, insisted I be included as well. When he asked "Rebecca, aussi?" they were confused, oh, you want her as well? (like, why? She's a chair!!!) but agreed. So, we both got to be on TV the next day, and they even let me speak a bit in English. I did get some stage fright and didn't really answer the question in a good way, and, of course, most of my answer got cut out, so, I think I will do that here, so my true thoughts can be recorded for posterity. So, he asked me, do you think it is YOUR generation that made this possible? My answer to that would be, both yes and no. My generation, is not an entity unto itself. My generation was ready for this change, ready to elect an African American, ready to believe in this person who said things are not working and we will change it, ready to believe that change was possible and, with their embrace of that possibility, ready to mobilize and work and register countless new voters from every generation to make this dream a reality. They helped us all believe it was possible, and it became real through their vision and energy. But, on the other hand, this belief would never have been held by my generation if we did not stand on the backs of others, of all the generations before us. From the Revolution, to the Civil War to the fight for womens rights and the famous struggles to end segregation and the war in Vietnam our parents and grandparents paved the path that made it so I grew up in a world that was multicultural, politically correct and full of possibility. These older warriors worked to get Obama elected as well - I know many of them, including my own father who has raised us as Democrats and worked on elections my entire life. He didn't believe it would happen. I remember, during the primary, him saying that the US would NEVER elect a black man to president and even up to election day, him fearing that loss was inevitable. Luckily, for all of us, he was wrong (and happily so!) I think, the difference with the younger generation, is that we always believed more than we feared. However, kudos out to the older generations that kept fighting, even after countless losses. I think, that is what President Obama needs us to continue to do as the country moves foward, to continue to feed the idea of hope more than fear - to continue to make the leaps of faith, combined with hard work, that help us to become a better nation, for all citizens.

Anyway - the end result was we were on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon:

The Tuesday night section can be viewed here -- PLEASE NOTE this link changes every day, so you'll have to find and click the text that says Mardi 20 Janvier:

It is from 13 minutes 31 seconds to 15 minutes 05 seconds and you can watch up to 17 minutes 25 seconds for the live portion with Nancy....

The Wednesday afternoon section is here -- PLEASE NOTE this link changes every day, so you'll have to find and click the text that says Mercredi 21 Janvier :

It is from the very start to 2 minutes 53 seconds

Happy viewing!

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