Important Notice

Special captions are available for the humor-impaired.


Tuesday, October 28, 2003

La Vitta Is Not Too Bella

For several years now the publishing world has been awash with books chronicling the lives of middle-aged yuppies moving to small villages in France and Italy. A recent movie, Under the Tuscan Sun attempts to transfer this genre to the big screen. This fantasy of becoming a European peasant with a swell house seems to be pretty pervasive if you believe the best seller lists and box office numbers. Do Europeans fantasize about moving here to set up house in some rural setting?

After spending some time on Google I came up with no findings for searches like “Under the Nebraska Sun” or “A Year in Wheeling, West Virginia,” not even when I translated these into the applicable European languages. I would presume that this is either a market that is ripe for the picking or Europeans aren’t interested in finding out what it is like to live in the suburbs and go shopping at Wal-Mart (this is National Pick On Wal-Mart Month). I wonder why this is?

Perhaps it’s because Europe has decided not to shred every evidence of their past like so many incriminating Enron documents, that it is worth it to maintain older architectural structures (in France it is some sort of federal offense to tear down an outhouse). But the appeal of living in Europe goes beyond the “This Old House” syndrome; perhaps people realize after a certain level of material prosperity that a good way of life isn’t about how much stuff you surround yourself with in your cocoon (or crypt).

You could explain away this phenomenon as Americans’ curiosity with foreign cultures except that most of these memoirs contain a strong theme of escape and by escape I don’t mean a flight of fancy. I mean escape like a desperate prison break, like getting away from something as fast and as far as possible, like running for your life.

Don’t expect me to define la vitta bella for you in this crappy little essay; just don’t think you can buy it like in those tiresome ads for Master Card where all of life’s pleasures are rung up on a cash register and charged on your credit card with the result being “priceless” bliss. Your bliss isn’t priceless, it is costing you 19% interest and the statement will be at your house at the end of the month. Have you been planning your escape?

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you can't say something nice, say it here.