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"Westerner's" most ridiculous beliefs about the time of communism in Poland

a.k.     Oct 23, 2012, 11:02am  #1

Just today I stumbled here across this comment:

(about whether Poles like British culture)
oxon:
Polish people do not embrace British culture. (James Bond is just pure drivel.) Eastern Europeans, unlike their American and UK counterparts listen generally to euro trash music and pop. This is not their fault. Blues/Rock/Jazz etc had its roots in America born of the Atlantic slave trade. UK bands like the stones, Beatles, Yardbirds and Cream took their material from early American music and transformed it.

Whilst we lived under capitalism which meant that if you didn't work you would not prosper, music was a release from the 'tyranny' of the conveyor belts and factories and it was also a way to get rich if you were good enough. Under communism, you did as you were told and you meekly obeyed. Your personalities and creative juices were stifled so you all grew up with absolutely no clue about what music was apart from the odd classical.


For the record: Even though I don't remember the times of communism myself (I'm too young), I know that there was no music genre which was unknown in Poland during that period. Jazz, blues, rock'n'roll, big beat, rock, later punk rock and raggae/ska too. The groups which were world famous were well known in Poland too. The aforementioned The Rolling Stones have their gig in 1967. The Beatles were very popular and had many copiers e.g. Czerwone Gitary.


In this thread I'd like you to share either funny stories about misbeliefs of foreign people you've encountered or your own beliefs which turned out to be false. Also you can discuss about actual life in those times - I may learn a lot thanks to you :) ...for instance one questioned always bothered me: how people in those times acquired the "western" music groups' albums if there was no official distributors of that stuff (or was there?)


Ironside Threads: 50
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  ♂  :-( Edited by: Ironside  Oct 23, 2012, 11:09am  #2

a.k.:
I don't remember the times of communism myself (I'm too young),


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_jazz

Magdalena Threads: 3
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  ♀   Edited by: Magdalena  Oct 23, 2012, 11:10am  #3

a.k.:
how people in those times acquired the "western" music groups' albums if there was no official distributors of that stuff (or was there?)


Radio Station "Trójka" - MiniMax weekly programme - a DJ would proceed to broadcast the full extent of the newest and most interesting albums he had managed to buy abroad. All you had to do was rig your tape recorders and press "record". :-)
I was a teenager in the eighties and I never felt left out of the global music culture. It was a pain buying enough good cassettes though!

Old stuff like the Beatles or Rolling Stones, or classic performers like Dylan, you could simply buy in the shops. Plus a smattering of newer and more explosive stuff as well. Can't remember the name of the distributor(s).

Later on, you also got whatever you wanted from pirates ;-) Cheap and rather good quality, actually...

a.k.     Oct 23, 2012, 11:12am  #4

Magdalena:
Radio Station "Trójka" - MiniMax weekly programme - a DJ would proceed to broadcast the full extent of the newest and most interesting albums he had managed to buy abroad. All you had to do was rig your tape recorders and press "record". :-)


What about the times when there was no tape recorders. Was there any way of buying a vinyl?

Magdalena Threads: 3
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  ♀   Oct 23, 2012, 11:13am  #5

a.k.:
. Was there any way of buying a vinyl?


Sorry, man, I was born into a world with tape recorders already in it ;-)

a.k.     Oct 23, 2012, 11:26am  #6

One more question regarding movies this time.
I had in home some old "Film" magazine issues (from the 1960s) and I flicked them through . I noticed that Poland generally wasn't lagging behind in the field of news from the world wide cinema. Mostly it was focused on continental Euopean cinema (French, Italian, even Swedish) but there was also mentioned Hollywood movies also wide interest in Oscars.
On the other hand I've heard that in cinemas one could watch very narrow variety of foreign movies, mostly westerns. How come "Film" magazine was covering such an extended movie reviews of movies which were not to watch in Polish cinemas? Was it that there were some movie preview events and that's how the rarer movies came across the Polish society?

a.k.     Oct 23, 2012, 12:01pm  #7

Ironside

Alright, at least after the stalinism there was no unknown music genre.

NorthMancPolak Threads: 5
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  ♂   Edited by: NorthMancPolak  Oct 23, 2012, 12:07pm  #8

Haven't you learned that oxon can't be taken seriously‽ He knows nothing about the real Poland!

oxon:


Polish people do not embrace British culture. (James Bond is just pure drivel.)


More evidence that oxon has never been to Poland, or he would have seen that Polish shops are FULL of western CDs/DVDs, etc.

Compare the shelves containing western films, to the "kino polskie" shelves in Empik. And that's just one example. UK/US culture is everywhere in Poland - some may say there's too much of it!

oxon:


Under communism, you did as you were told and you meekly obeyed. Your personalities and creative juices were stifled so you all grew up with absolutely no clue about what music was apart from the odd classical.


Rubbish. My mum was already a fan of the Stones/Beatles, etc. when she arrived in this country (1960s) - she became aware of this music by listening to the radio.

Even under communism, Poland wasn't a Third World village (even though people like oxon think it still is, lol.)

Magdalena Threads: 3
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  ♀   Oct 23, 2012, 12:08pm  #9

a.k.:
Was it that there were some movie preview events and that's how the rarer movies came across the Polish society?


Lots of movies were shown, westerns would actually be in the minority ;-)
Apart from that, we had something called Dyskusyjne Kluby Filmowe (Film Discussion Clubs) where the more esoteric stuff would be shown and a discussion held afterwards. Plus "film festivals" which meant e.g. a week of British films at a given cinema, or a month of Pasolini films, etc. etc. I used to be quite the moviegoer, but now can't remember the names of the Warsaw cinemas that would host events like that... ;-(

a.k.     Oct 23, 2012, 12:13pm  #10

NorthMancPolak:
Haven't you learned that oxon can't be taken seriously‽ He knows nothing about the real Poland!


That's why his comment fits this thread the best, which, I remind, begins with the words: most ridiculous ;)))

a.k.     Oct 23, 2012, 12:37pm  #11

NorthMancPolak

By the way, would you agree or disagree that the Oxon's belief about absolute cultural isolation of People's Republic of Poland are widespread among other Britons?

1jola Threads: 28
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  ♂   Oct 23, 2012, 12:51pm  #12

a.k.:
What about the times when there was no tape recorders. Was there any way of buying a vinyl?

In early seventies we recorded on reel to reel and I remember buying a Jethro Tull record at a outdoor market in Mariensztat, Old Town, Warsaw. Lots of music floated around. ( I later saw Tull at the Madison Square Garden, I think it was 1979).

Magdalena:
Lots of movies were shown, westerns would actually be in the minority ;-)

Ask your parents about how they rushed to see all the Winetou films.

Magdalena Threads: 3
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  ♀   Oct 23, 2012, 12:53pm  #13

1jola:
Ask your parents about how they rushed to see all the Winetou films.


I don't think my parents would fit the right age bracket, as they were children during WW2 or immediately after.
Also, I was speaking about MY experiences as a teenager, OK? And I would "rush" to see Enter the Dragon, Star Wars, and a bunch of other western "crap" ;-)

Rysavy Threads: 16
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  ♀   Oct 23, 2012, 01:05pm  #14

I dont know if I would be considered average Westerner...

It was highly romanticized when mentioned in my family... or at Church. Though Poland was not singled out often in itself and not just "one of the betrayed" behind the iron curtain. When mentioned it was like moral freedom fighters clinging to ethinic identity and not forsaking the Church to embrace the State religion of (cue* dramatic music and indrawn breath) communism like some countries did. Church alwasy wanted to "help" and asked for donations in that regard.

My father (he was QUITE a bit older than my mum) had also served with some Polish officers during his time as pilot in WWII and added his own spin of favorable review.

*snerk*

In general? belief about life behind curtain was controlled access to infomation and goods with strict reprisals for "mavericks" and religious suppression.

ShortHairThug Threads: -
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  ♂   Oct 23, 2012, 05:08pm  #15

a.k.:
oxon: Polish people do not embrace British culture. (James Bond is just pure drivel.)

Bollox, That’s probably it’s the only character he knows from the British cinema of that time. The reason for that is because it was embraced and produced by Hollywood but I’ll bet he never heard of Simon Templar also played by Roger Moore (The Saint) very popular in Poland and shown on polish TV in late 60’s early 70’s. Another example that comes to mind is The Avengers with Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee also appeared on polish TV at that time. Contrary to his simplistic view American presence on polish TV was not limited to the ever so popular Westerns but included other genre as well. Detective series like Kojak, Colombo, not to mention the war movies the likes of The Guns of Navarone, The Dirty Dozen, Where Eagles Dare etc. all showed by state run Polish TV almost as soon as they were released. Chances are that whatever his parents’ watched at that time so did ours.

NorthMancPolak Threads: 5
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  ♂   Oct 23, 2012, 05:24pm  #16

a.k.:
NorthMancPolak

By the way, would you agree or disagree that the Oxon's belief about absolute cultural isolation of People's Republic of Poland are widespread among other Britons?



Neither agree or disagree.

Most people over here simply have no idea about current Polish issues, never mind about how Poland was like over 20 years ago. Those who do have an idea are extremely unlikely to have oxon's attitude. Everyone I know who is not Polish, and had visited Poland before 2004, had nothing but praise for the people and the country.

Likewise, as I have mentioned before on this forum, there was virtually no anti-Polish opinion in the UK before 2004. The way that the trolls behave on here, you would think that we have been (for want of a better phrase) "white Pakis" for decades. This is absolutely NOT the case. Please do not think that the opinions of sad loser trolls on PF represent the majority of UK people.

a.k.     Oct 23, 2012, 07:57pm  #17

NorthMancPolak:
This is absolutely NOT the case. Please do not think that the opinions of sad loser trolls on PF represent the majority of UK people.


I ensure you I have never thought so. Speaking that I don't consider someone who thinks that there was a cultural isolation as being mean or anti Polish or whatever. Just uniformed that's all. I've always considered it interesting how people from the capitalistic countries of that time imagined living under communism. Certainly many have some views influenced for instance by the media informations they were given in those times, right?

NorthMancPolak Threads: 5
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  ♂   Oct 23, 2012, 10:36pm  #18

a.k.:
I ensure you I have never thought so.


Don't worry, I know you didn't ;)

a.k.:
Speaking that I don't consider someone who thinks that there was a cultural isolation as being mean or anti Polish or whatever. Just uniformed that's all.


That's about it - uninformed, and indifferent.

a.k.:
I've always considered it interesting how people from the capitalistic countries of that time imagined living under communism. Certainly many have some views influenced for instance by the media informations they were given in those times, right?


It was a long time ago, and I can't remember that much about the media reports, but I don't think that "culture" was really mentioned that much. But I don't think that this would make UK people think that Poland had no culture. I think most people weren't interested, that's all.

It affected families like ours, of course, because we had relatives over there, so we kept ourselves informed about life in Poland.

I think that most people would have thought of Poles as poor and oppressed, but not necessarily uncultured.

Lyzko     Oct 23, 2012, 10:47pm  #19

"Just for the record", a.k. (One of your favorite English openers, I seeLOL), merely wondering how equally ridiculous many European conceptions of pre-Civil Rights US must look to Americans who actually lived through the period. I too have grown increasingly weary of reading young Poles and others bemoan our treatment of African-Americans, Hispanics or various minorities etc.. How about "your" treatment of darker-skinned migrant labor to Poland, for example, or how about present-day Polish ####, eh? Are our beliefs of how difficult, for instance, it remains to be openly -ish in Poland also "ridiculous"??

Hate to be a gadfly here once again, but only to even the score a little:-)

a.k.     Oct 23, 2012, 11:07pm  #20

Lyzko:
How about "your" treatment of darker-skinned migrant labor to Poland


How about, please tell me.

Lyzko:
merely wondering how equally ridiculous many European conceptions of pre-Civil Rights US must look to Americans who actually lived through the period.


But that's your own fault. You make movies/programmes which presents your own country in bad light.

Lyzko:
Are our beliefs of how difficult, for instance, it remains to be openly -ish in Poland also "ridiculous"??


I have many gay friends who are openly gay, if that's what you mean. Now do answer on your question yourself.

Lyzko     Oct 23, 2012, 11:27pm  #21

No, not exactly! I meant the treatment of openly non-Christian (żydowski) Poles in Poland today. Still, a dirty, little secret:-))

Barney Threads: 18
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  ♂   Oct 23, 2012, 11:33pm  #22

"Westerner's" most ridiculous beliefs about the time of communism in Poland
The general view was that Poland was a land of perpetual winter where everyone ate potatoes and queued for bread. There was no night life and you all watched films about blocks of flats and the production of Iron. There was nothing in the popular press or media about culture history or music.

a.k.     Oct 23, 2012, 11:41pm  #23

Barney:
The general view was that Poland was a land of perpetual winter where everyone ate potatoes and queued for bread. There was no night life and you all watched films about blocks of flats and the production of Iron. There was nothing in the popular press or media about culture history or music.


Actually the potato part is quite true... even today :))

Lyzko:
No, not exactly! I meant the treatment of openly non-Christian (żydowski) Poles in Poland today. Still, a dirty, little secret:-))


Yet so many openly J/ewish tv personalities... how come that this "little dirty secret" hasn't ruined their career?

Barney Threads: 18
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  ♂   Oct 23, 2012, 11:54pm  #24

a.k.:
Actually the potato part is quite true... even today :))

I'm glad to hear it.........................Bring to the boil the king of the soil as a very good friend of mine says when cooking.

It’s hard to underestimate the negative view the general public were encouraged to hold. In Ireland the brainwashing wasn’t quite as bad as it was in other countries.

rybnik Threads: 33
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  ♂   Oct 24, 2012, 12:06am  #25

Magdalena:
Lots of movies were shown

sure. But all the USA films that played showed the States in the poorest light possible.

a.k.     Oct 24, 2012, 12:14am  #26

rybnik:
But all the USA films that played showed the States in the poorest light possible.


Any specific title?

rybnik Threads: 33
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  ♂   Oct 24, 2012, 12:32am  #27

a.k.:
Any specific title?

sure
any film that was able to support the prevailing propaganda was shown in theaters (and on TV).
Violent gansters/crime films were common fare in Wrocław theaters: Serpico, The Godfather, Serpico
"drugs in America" - French Connection
"sexual promiscuity" -Looking for Mr Goodbar
"divorce and the breakup of families" - Kramer przeciw Kramerowi...................

boletus Threads: 45
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  ♂   Oct 24, 2012, 01:18am  #28

rybnik:
any film that was able to support the prevailing propaganda was shown in theaters (and on TV).

but many of the American films were top ranking, such as:
All About Eve, 1950 - Wszystko o Ewie, 1959, dubbing
12 angry men, 1956 - Dwunastu gniewnych ludzi, 1959, 1973, dubbing;
Anatomy of murder, 1959 - Anatomia morderstwa
To kill a mockinbird, 1962 - Zabić drozda, 1962

rybnik Threads: 33
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  ♂   Edited by: rybnik  Oct 24, 2012, 01:33am  #29

boletus:
but many of the American films were top ranking, such as:All About Eve, 1950 - Wszystko o Ewie, 1959, dubbing12 angry men, 1956 - Dwunastu gniewnych ludzi, 1959, 1973, dubbing; Anatomy of murder, 1959 - Anatomia morderstwaTo kill a mockinbird, 1962 - Zabić drozda, 1962

they are, as are the ones I listed.
my point is American films dealing with the seedier/violent/deviant side of life got an inordinate amount of play at the expense of works casting a more positive, favorable light on American life.

boletus Threads: 45
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  ♂   Edited by: boletus  Oct 24, 2012, 01:47am  #30

rybnik:
my point is American films dealing with the seedier/violent/deviant side of life got an inordinate amount of play.

I do not remember anyone looking at this your way when watching them. None of my friends ever though about them as anti-American propaganda movies. Come one Rybnik, you are just too sensitive, we were not the idiots; those movies were actually good, won many Oscars, they were shown all over the world (maybe few years earlier than in Poland :-)).

But frankly, we were more interested in Italian, French, Swedish movies, etc. then. And Magdalena was right - the DKFs (Film Discussion Clubs) were fantastic. You may want to see for example the article (in Polish) about DKF Żak in Gdańsk, one of the first DKF in Poland: http://www.klubzak.com.pl/doc_59.html

Its premiere took place on January 22 1956 with the presentation of Vittorio De Sica's "Miracolo a Milano" 1951 (Cud w Mediolanie). Officially it supposed to be a presentation of Russian children story "Konik Garbusek" (A hunchback Pony).




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