Losing touch with the Romanian “media culture” was not something I had considered when arriving to Vienna. The thing that surprises me the most is that it occurred so silently, nobody could even sense it happened. Having no access to the object that kept me on track with everything during my 19 year long stay in the Carpathian Garden – the TV and its wonders – eventually led to a loss of interest towards themes so fervently discussed back in Sibiu. Why?
It’s been more than two years since I last sat on my favourite chair in my grandmother’s home, reading a piece of beautiful Romanian postmodern creation that was absolutely unrelated to the exams I had to take in order to obtain my high school degree. I vaguely remember the coffee conversations we enjoyed in Sibiu, yet always remember the places, the people and the books (and the places where you could get the books and meet lots of cool people – Humanitas). Of course, everything that happened in the media was a part of our lives and of our discussion topics, the music we heard on TV was played at our parties and the people who were famous for a reason and promoted in the media were our models in life.
Compared to the Austrian press, Romanian print is extremely poor in information and suffers from a severe case of tabloidization, yet it’s still being read and somewhat followed (in terms of fashion and lifestyle of celebrities, habits of going to very expensive clubs and wearing very expensive clothes and so on) by a big load of people. Media apparently influences Austrian minds and Romanian pockets.
Although it was hard getting to transit from the typical Romanian way of perceiving media, Vienna (and even more: the University of Vienna) has introduced me to some of the most fascinating themes I’ve faced so far. Coming close to the age of uninnocence, subjects that earlier could not be debated without a serious amount of controversy and very many stereotypes in mind seem more and more promising. The pages are unfolding in a more Standard (Austrian quality newspaper) kind of life than in the typical Tribuna (local Sibiu newspaper) times. It’s true, I haven’t read a good postmodern fiction work in a long while and my favourite chair can never be replaced. Yet nobody seeks to copy Lugner around here and it makes much more sense to take some distance from things portrayed in the media – both on TV and in print – then to let your life be exclusively influenced by it.
Tip for estranged Romanians suffering from cultural swing: always listen closely to the songs on the radio that are trendy in Romania when arriving in the country, then repeat some lyrics in front of your friends. Somehow this still gets the conversations started just like in the old days.