My host family was particularly interested in an issue of Time magazine that my mom sent me, so I handed it to them to check out. I was struck by the way they looked over it. They were unable to distinguish the ads from the stories, and navigated different texts, sizes, and graphics in a way that seemed totally unnatural to me. Without exposure to mass marketing on a regular basis, they are "fresh" in a way that Americans could never be. Long before American children have the skills to actually read a Time magazine, they can navigate it in ways that are more organized and predicable.
I could barely contain my amusement and delight when they turned to the election coverage that was packed into Time's pages. Having never been subjected to the 24/7 barrage of worthless election coverage provided by much of the American media, and with only the candidates' pictures to work from, I thought they summed up the themes of the election well.
Our discussion of American electoral politics went as follows:
Dad: "His hair is all white. He's really old."
Me: "Yeah - he's seventy-two."
Dad: "Wow, he's ancient! America can't have a president who's that old."
Me: "... yeah."
Dad: "This one's a little kid."
Me: "Well, he's forty-seven."
Mom: "But he looks so young. And handsome."
Dad: "He's black."
Me: "Yeah, his Dad is from Kenya."
Dad: "But how can America have an African president?"
Me: "Well, his mom is American, and he was born in America."
Mom: "Yeah, he's not really black."
Dad: "Wow - she's hot."
Me: "... yeah."
Dad: "Maybe she will be my second wife."
Joe Biden...… did not appear in this issue of Time
*Special thanks to my Mom for sending the magazines. Also thanks for the Oreos. One night, I locked myself in my house with a book and ate the whole box in you honor.