The Final: Germany vs United States
Readers with long memories may recall that these two teams met each other before, back in the group stages, when America came out on top. However, past performance is no guarantee of future success, as they say (very quickly) in the best financial product advertisements. For the group stages were based on nothing more scientific than a quick finger in the proverbial, see which way the flag runs up the gut feeling. Or, to put it another way, I guessed.
Now, however, after the tense excitement of the semis, I feel that a more quantitative method is required. So what we have are six categories, which are all important facets of the trash experience. In each of these, we will pit the finalists together, like giant rubber-suited actors in a mid-60’s Japanese monster movie, and see who comes out on top. We will use a boxing-style scoring system i.e. the winner gets ten points, and the loser gets zero to nine, depending on their contribution.
How beautiful are their women? Some correspondents chose to question Germany’s strength in depth in this area, but this objection was rejected by the jury i.e. me. Don’t forget, I went to Hamburg not so long ago [look, it IS all written up, I just need to scan in the pics to illustrate it], and so can state that Misses Kinski, Schiffer and Habermann are merely the tip of a large, cute iceberg. However, we did accept the following impassioned plea:
How can any nation rank high on the International Babeometer Scale when the ‘Pro-Lifer licking sperm off a dog turd’ impersonator Steffi Graf can become such an object of obsessive lust to her countrymen that one of them is prepared to perforate the porcine Monica Seles to demonstrate the depths of their deranged desires?
Clearly some strength of feeling there. However, the same contributor rather blotted his copybook by going on to list Renee O’Connor — that’s the ugly one out of Xena: Warrior Princess (right) — as one of the reasons why America should win. Rather shot yourself in the foot there, didn’t we? A disturbing tendency in American towards teeth, tans, and tits means that victory in the first round goes to Europe
GERMANY 10, United States 8
The main problem in this area is one of proving origin. The archetypal American meal consists of hamburger and French fries — whose names would suggest they are German and (fairly obviously) French respectively, but this may be some kind of cultural myth. They may just have been invented by Messrs Hamburg + French. I don’t know, I just eat the freakin’ stuff, after all.
Let’s just rely on gut feeling here as to such matters. Pizza is American, and we’ll give Germany the benefit of Black Forest Gateau (or Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte, to give it its proper name — one of the few words I remember from O-grade German, along with “Kugelschreiber” — ball-point pen…), though we could argue either of these are being about as authentic as Vindaloo. The relentless nature of German cuisine (1001 interesting things to do with sausage) gets even to this hard-core carnivore, though America is penalised for being the origin of “health” food.
UNITED STATES 10, Germany 9
Not so long ago, this one would have been a foregone conclusion, with Germany romping to victory through the contribution of Bavaria alone. However, this is no longer the case, as America is slowly discovering the delights of real beer, as opposed to gnats piss cooled to the approximate temperature of liquid helium. Some of these are good. Very good. Indeed, probably good enough to challenge the best of the German beers. Patchy distribution of these is definitely a problem, and the consistency of the Bavarians, thanks to those fabulous purity laws, is unbeatable.
However, a bonus point to the Americans for taking the soft drink and raising it up to an art form. You don’t get Coke, you can get it with or without caffeine, sugar, or colour, and in “Original” or “New” varieties. And then there’s Jolt Cola (quadruple the caffeine, and twice the sugar, or thereabouts), to be found in discerning 7-11 stores up and down the land. Given it’s just past 2am, I could do with a bottle here right now.
GERMANY 10, United States 9
Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog, Jorg Buttgereit and Fritz Lang — strange bedfellows, but they are the ones whose names comes to mind when I think of the German film industry. Wenders deserves respect as the only director to work with Nastassja more than once, Herzog as pretty much the only director to work with Klaus more than once, Buttgereit for producing some of the grossest yet thought-provoking films in cinematic history, and Fritz Lang for ‘Metropolis’. Not bad, but…
You have to plough through a lot of half-heartedly trashy efforts to find true trash in the US. However, it is out there as witnessed by, for instance, this website [sadly no longer active, ten years later, so I removed the link] which specialises in women in peril (and wet T-shirts) movies. The custom videos are quite intriguing: supply a script, and for about $20 a minute, they’ll stage it — and admittedly then flog the tapes, but you do get a dollar for every one they sell. In the light of such…entrepreneurial imagination, it would be hard for any country to stand up, and that is aside from the vast slew of independent film-makers beavering away these days.
UNITED STATES 10, Germany 8
On the popular level, America wins hands down, largely by sheer weight of numbers — great though Kraftwerk are, they aren’t quite sufficient to stem the tidal wave, of Papua New Guinean proportions, which is the past forty years of American rock ‘n’ roll. Oh, there is more to it than that; I would personally point to KMFDM and Rammstein as being easily the match of your average Yankee band, although I will probably get shot if I fail to mention Kim Deal at this point.
However, it is in the realm of straight-faced absurdity that the Germans truly excel, and just about manage to pull off a stunning victory. Take the Eurovision Song Contest, for example: back in 1982, it was Nicole, with ‘A Little Peace’, one of the most sickening pieces of driviel you will ever hear. This year, it was Guildo Horn, a post-post-post-ironic parody of all the oompah music. And Mike ‘Womble’ Batt wrote their World Cup song. Against this, all the Americans can offer is a fondness for letting celebrities massacre the National Anthem at baseball games: first Roseanne, and now Caroline In The City star Lea Thompson, in her greatest contribution to popular culture since a certain scene in All The Right Moves. Or indeed, Howard the Duck.
GERMANY 10, United States 9
The biggest problem with German TV is that it is, understandably but still unhelpfully, in German. And sadly, they don’t discuss Black Forest Gateau and ball-point pens often enough for me to able to appreciate it. This limits its appeal, and indeed its distribution, though things may change when digital television brings in 500 more channels to be filled…somehow. On the plus side, they are remarkably unfettered about what they show: when we came back to our apartment in Hamburg, we’d bet on how many channels we’d have to go through to find some naked flesh. The answer was, almost inevitably, no more than three.
American television comes in three distinct flavours: network, syndicate and cable, in increasing order of pleasantness. Network TV possesses all the flavour and appeal of vanilla blancmange; syndicated television has moments of charm and originality, while on cable, your are talking a free fire zone as far as concepts like ‘good taste’ are concerned. Which is precisely the way it SHOULD be — something for everyone, even if they are depraved gun-freaks with an interest in rubber. That’s a TRUE minority interest, Channel 4 please note. But you can hardly go against any country where it takes half-an-hour to channel surf, and the variety is a telling blow for the land of the free.
UNITED STATES 10, Germany 7
And the final score is:
United States 56, Germany 54
leaving the winner of the inaugural Trash City World Cup as:
The United States
Congratulations to them and their 250 million inhabitants.
And I can assure you, it will certainly be another four years before I will even contemplate repeating this little exercise. Thank you for bearing with me!
Yours, Ref Hunter J.
Thanks are due to Mal Aitchison and John Spencer, for service above and beyond the call of duty. Even if, curiously, both of them do like Renee O’Connor.