Monday, April 4, 2011

The Soundtrack to Travel

To this day, the moment I hear 'Me Against The Music' by Madonna and Britney Spears, I am immediately transported to 2002 in Opole, Poland. I was a fresh university drop-out, high on the sense of my own intellectual power, disapproving of my workplace, and barely managing to get all the five food groups into my diet on a daily basis.

The video perhaps most known for the extra-textual kiss at the MTV video awards would flit across the plasma screen mounted above the plastic white tables, saluting the conservative Christians with homoerotic posturing and dance-friendly yoga moves. I wondered what the young Poles thought of this new collaboration, and I simultaneously loved and hated the song and its visual accompaniment because they reminded me of how people of my generation in more liberal environments might react, and how I could expect a different spectrum of responses that was skewed towards the more homophobic side of things in the small, German-infuenced city.

By the time I had decided that I'd mulled over the cultural significance of the rather lacklustre tune to death, it seemed to become even more ubiquitous. I started making up my own Polish-themed lyrics: "If you want to party, show us your zloty!" I improvised: zloty was the currency of the time, and for the first time ever, I was making my own money regularly. As an English teacher I had just enough to meet my expenses, and I was conscious that I was being given more than the average worker in Opole, and a bit uncomfortable about it. The young people seemed so miserable. I got tired of my Weird Al Yankovic tendencies eventually, but the still the song wouldn't go away... so now you know why Me Against The Music will always take me back to my few but memorable weeks in Poland.

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