Friday, July 4, 2008

The Reversal Of Babel: Award a Prize to Mr. Bean

It's hard for me to find a good picture of Mr. Bean, but you know who he is.

Here's what I want to say. I've been to China, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. I've taught South Koreans and interacted with them quite a bit... I've been in places where the cultural barriers are wide, deep and run long.

But everybody loves Mr. Bean.

It doesn't matter what their take is on George W. or what conversation you're able to have or not have due to a language barrier. If I was ever anywhere stumped, I just said..."Hey do you know Mr. Bean?"

"Mr. BEAN!" , yes, big smile, laugh, conversation, and connection.

He's big in Asia, so I'm assuming, everyhwhere. Mr Bean is also shown in North Korea, so I learned from a documentary. Sometimes in North Korea they have special movie festivals where imported films are shown. It's not like he's on their tv there, not that I'm aware of, but they love Mr. Bean reports say.

Here in the Philippines, he's very popular and there is lots of Mr. Bean merchandise everywhere, including kids backpacks, and t-shirts. There is a lot of merchandise from the animated series as well. The cartoon version of Bean is strange and Magooish. It's not nearly as interesting as the live acts.

These film shorts of Mr. Bean are sans spoken language. They are the human experience. So, there's no language barrier.'s the other thing I wanted to bring up. My youngest son is Autistic which is classified as a language disorder. He doesn't communicate in the conventional sense. He uses words, but for his own enjoyment only.

He reminds me of Arnie from What's Eating Gilbert Grape? Although Arnie used language every once in awhile in a traditional sense. That movie really reminds me of my guy, especially when he climbs up that tower and Johnny Depp

(Sorry Rowan, I know this is your entry, but I had to...Who's better than this JD? message me if you know...)

-takes a megaphone and has to sing a song to get him to listen and come down.. Leonardo couldn't have done a better job in that movie, I was astonished.

Anyway, my son is obsessed with Mr. Bean. He's quite particular about what he pays attention to, and he focuses very closely on each episode and knows all the routines by heart. His favorite is "Mind the Baby, Mr. Bean" where Bean gets stuck taking care of a baby at a carnival. It is pretty great, that one.

So Mr. Bean communicates where there may be no communication. He reaches the seemingly unreachable and has helped me make meaningful connections in disconnected circumstances. It's babel in reverse and he should get some kind of Bean Award for making my life easier and more fun.

Thanks, Rowan.

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