- -  Day # 99  + +

EU > Portugal > Lisbon

Fado and Smelly Cats

Lisbon, PT (View on map)

Yesterday`s article about immigration showed that some subjects cut countries in half and opposes people to one another. Fortunately, there are also issues that unite different cultures. It would be hard to find a place people watch no sports and don`t listen to music. In the modern world, TV is one the most common media to send entertainment into people`s homes. Internet has added the feature of global accessibility to it, allowing virtually anybody from anywhere to view the same content. Still, each country has different preferences. Here`s a list of some entertainment stuff that is popular in Portugal.

Joao (19):

`Not all news programs in Portugal are equally reliable`
Telenoveles are a typical Iberian/South American phenomenon. The best translation for Telenovele would be soap opera and if you switch on a Portuguese TV, there will always be one on air. Their names are very cheesy, ranging from Morangos com A?ucar (Strawberries with sugar), to Paginas de Vida (Pages of life) and Vingan?a, which translates as `Revenge`. Especially in the old days, when Portugal only had state owned television, the imported Brazilian telenoveles were much more popular than local versions. At present, many scripts still come from South America, but the series are played by local actors.

Choice on offer
Most Portuguese households have access to over 40 channels, including many international ones. The standard offer consists of only four channels, but the cable now provides many more, most of the time combined with internet access and a telephony package. It`s mostly old people who have not chosen to get an additional package. Their choice is limited to RTP1, RTP2 (both state-owned), SIC and TVI. The additional package differs, but it is likely to include major international channels like CNN (USA), BBC (UK), TV5 (French), Eurosport, Euronews, MTV and a range of Spanish channels.

Commercial TV was only introduced 15 years ago, but the offer has gradually expanded since. MTV now has a Portuguese version, creatively baptised MTV Portugal, while SIC offers SIC Mulheres for women, SIC Radical for adolescents and SIC News for 24 hours news coverage.

The programs
`Friends`, `Sex in the city` and `Desperate Housewives` have all made it across the ocean, and they are quite popular. `Friends` was actually the first series to be aired in a dubbed version. All other imported programs are usually subtitled, and the Friends experiment was a big failure. It is now broadcast with subtitles again, helping the Portuguese to keep their exposure to English at the desired level.

?Big Brother` was a big hit when it was first broadcast, but has now disappeared off the screen. It has been replaced by a variety of singing and dancing competitions, Extreme Makeover and a marriage competition which sort-of combines the previous three.

Satire is also popular. Like in many other countries, the news and/or local politicians are often a source of inspiration when it comes to sour jokes. Portugal has a program called `Smelly cat` which includes sketches and imitations. It is not unusual for people to copy expressions from the sketches and include them in their own jokes for that week. Eixo do Mal (Centre of Evil) is a similar program, although it is not produced by comedians. It brings together five critics who, together, discuss the news of the previous week. Although the setting is fairly serious, the end result is often quite funny.

Another typical Portuguese program is called `Do you know more than a 10-year old`. It is a daily quiz program. Rui (24) tells me that, so far this year, only had one adult win against the 10-year old, and this person was a teacher. Other quizzes include Lingo, a word game, and until recently `Who wants to be a millionaire`.

The news
Jo?o (19, photo) tells me that the 10 o`clock evening news at RTP2 is the most serious and reliable news program. The 8 o`clock version is generally more popular, but according to Jo?o `it sometimes starts of with 20 minutes of football news, which in itself does not make a very serious impression`. The 8 o`clock version usually lasts for one hour, and shows two bars of information running through the bottom of the screen to make the maximum use of the screen for transmitting the news facts.

People who want to access the news during the day can either watch SIC News or visit the website www.publico.pt, which is one of the few Portuguese news websites that gets visitors from all layers of the population.

More popular than Publico.pt, especially among youngsters, is Hi5.pt. It`s a profile website that many kids and young grown-ups use to show themselves to the world, make new friends and stay in touch with old ones. Just like in many other countries, the national profile website is more popular than international alternatives like Myspace or Facebook. Gmail is most popular for e-mail, MSN Messenger for chatting. Youtube is favourite for viewing videos, while some people also subscribe to pirate MP3 exchange websites.

The traditional Portuguese music is called Fado. It sings about life, sometimes in happy ways, most of the time quite said. Nostalgia is a dominant sentiment in Portugal. Joanna (22) tells me that Portuguese is the only language in the world that has a noun for the act of missing somebody: saudade. `I miss you` would translate into `Eu tenho saudades tuas`. For dramatic goodbyes, friends sometimes even say: `Estou a morrer de saudade`: `I will die of missing you`. The nostalgic sentiments are closely related to the history of the seafarers, where wives had to miss their husbands who sailed off to the colonies. Or to undiscovered terrain in even earlier days. Today`s nostalgia results from missing that entire era, a time when Portugal was one of the countries ahead of the world.

Modern Portuguese bands usually sing in English. Joanna explains that the charts are dominated by trash Portuguese music, because fans of that kind of music are the only ones who still spend money on physical CD singles. Joanna mentions Tony Carreira as a good example of cheesy Portuguese music. Agata is generally considered the worst: only electronic cords and very superficial lyrics. Three of her songs, all about her husband cheating on her up until the final reconciliations, still made very big hits. Xutos e Pontap?s, translating into Kicking & Kicking are more popular and actually have some real instruments in the music.

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