Culture Shock!

This blog post is part of an exchange between students at Stanford University and at American University in Cairo.

The Ad:

“Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment.” This Egyptian commercial shows a typical conversation between parents and their son. The mother starts by showing us how she is disappointed from her son due to his carelessness in studying and suddenly the mobile phone of the grandmother rings in a special tone and she answers in a funny and surprising way.

Have you ever seen a grandma-playing billiard? That was the ending of the commercial; she was holding a billiard stick and doing a gesture with her hand like punks or rock stars do. This comic effect in particular arises from both speech and action; it is inconsistent for an old, conservative looking, grandmother to have a ring tone like that. It is also inconsistent for her to answer the phone the way she did, usually  most grandmothers, not only Egyptians, speak in a soft tone.

The Egyptian audiences can laugh at the commercial because in Egyptian culture its weird when a grandmother has a mobile phone with ring tone for “Usher” and answers the call with “Yo” and “What’s up”, which relates more to an informal American language and teenagers in specific.

It’s culturally illogical for the audience that an Egyptian grandmother has a ring tone for “usher” and answers with “Yo and wasp”, while the whole family is trying to re-construct the manner grounding for the grandson and the grandmother is the one who needs it! It is unexpected and un-realistic to find a grand mother talking like how rappers do because it’s unacceptable in our culture to have an old woman speaking in such way.

In conclusion, the Egyptian picture of a grand mother or even a mother is the following: conservative, protective, strict, old fashioned, with ethics, and manners. When an Egyptian ringing tone commercial comes and presents the total opposite of that to its audience then there will definitely be surprise and incongruity because of the culture aspect. It may be a little bit expected in another culture, but in ours there is no way to have a grand mother listening to Usher and putting his song as a ringing tone. It gives us a culture shock!

Seif,Fatima, Alaa, Alia

This entry was posted in CCR exchange: Stanford-AUC, Fall 2010: Political Cartoons and Ads analysis. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Culture Shock!

  1. McKenzie says:

    Awesome job picking a funny clip! Everyone in our class laughed out loud when we saw it! It definitely reminds me of modern American culture, and what is perhaps even funnier is that I know a few grandparents who are like the grandmother in the commercial. Many parents and grandparents work especially hard to be keep up with America’s youth, and often times that means using the same slang and pop culture references, only they often just seem out of place, making the people using them seem further out of touch than they are. Also, props for hinting that it might be expected for American grandparents/parents , since it is not always the case but there are certainly some isolated, and hilarious, instances when they do attempt to fit in with the young crowd.

  2. Ingrid and Ben says:

    We really liked this ad. The cultural/language barrier was relatively insignificant, as stereotypes regarding the behavior of seniors transcend across cultures. The same ad with an American family would have had very similar effect, although the dismayed reaction of the mother to her mother’s ring tone would not have been as pronounced in an American ad.

  3. Geffen Oren & Morgan McCluskey says:

    We found this video to be very funny! In our culture we have similar stereotype of old people, so we could understand the incongruity of the joke. The last scene with the hand”rock on’ sign made the commercial totally hilarious.

  4. Rohan and Jack says:

    This ad was hilarious. The shock of the grandmother’s ring tone being an Usher and Lil Jon song was ridiculous. This ad relates a lot to American ads in that it presents a character that the audience expects to act one way, but they actually act differently. I think the mother burying her face in her hands is also great because it demonstrates the changing culture in Egypt similar to the changing American culture.

  5. Kristen and April says:

    We enjoyed this ad for a couple reasons. Firstly, it breaks the stereotype of “older” people attempting to act like a teenager. For example, she answers the phone at dinner using lingo such as “yo” and “what’s up.” This provides a sharp contrast between the formal dinner setting and her hip behavior. Secondly, we found the ringtone choice interesting because it was a popular song in America as well. The language in this clip is not pertinent to the overall concept based on the grandmother’s actions and behavior. It was funny!

  6. Aliza Rosen says:

    We found this clip to be very funny. In America, it would be humorous as well for a grandmother to pick up the phone in such a manner. This clip seems similar to advertisements in the U.S. It mocks the world’s obsession with cell phones and technology, and it is shocking and surprising to see a traditionally more conservative grandmother acting like a teenager.

  7. Aziza and Coral says:

    We thought this ad was very funny. Of course, we did not understand what the family was discussing over the dinner table. However, the moment the phone rang, we began to laugh because the song choice in itself was funny for a grandmother. We also enjoyed how the whole camera shifted and focused on the grandmother when she began to speak.

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