Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Sweetie (Αγαπούλα)

A series of 25-35 second ads that embody all aspects of the current political and economic situation in Greece has recently been given an in-depth analysis on TV's weekend breakfast talk shows due to the impact that they have made. The 'αγαπούλα' ads ('agapoula' = sweetie) represent the stereotype of the neo-rich Greek, the kind of person who is now most likely in financial trouble, and who has possibly now entered the world of the neo-poor, quite a different world to the one inhabited by people who have been poor all their lives.

The President insists that Antoniou is going to play in the next match.
Glossary: agapoula - 'sweetie'; amola - 'be off'; pes tou - 'tell him'.
The President: "Tell him the kid's got a great pair of legs."
The coach: "Tell him, if the kid's got great legs, he should advertise stockings."
The President: "Tell him the kid shoots goals that kill."
The coach: "Tell him that's something woodcocks and pigeons know very well."
The President: "Tell him the kid sells T-shirts."
The coach: "Oh, I didn't know he was in the underwear trade."
The President: "Tell him that Antoniou looks in one direction and passes in another."
The coach: "Finally, we agree on something."

In the end, the coach agrees that in 1-2 games, "the kid's gonna become a legend" (the President had just warned him that he'll be sending him to another field, something like pasture land).

By watching these ads, you will get a good insight into what has happened in Greece, and more importantly, why it happened. What is being said or implied through them is the kind of thing that journalists are too afraid to mention for fear of libel. Just this weekend, Makis Psomiadis filed a defamation lawsuit against the company that produced the ads, saying that they make a mockery of his persona. Considering the ads are centred around the shenanigans of a football club president who smokes cigars, is involved in match-fixing and ends up in jail, it is easy to see the resmeblance...

The use of the word 'agapoula' comes from its common usage by mafia-like underworld bosses (especially football - Makis Psomiadis himself has probably used it on amny occasions) and other neo-rich folk (how they became wealthy is no significance here) when calling out to their subordinates to get their attention.

So Antoniou did end up playing in the next match.
Glossary: doulia sou - 'get back to work'; ethniki - 'national' (road/club); kelebiah (slang) - 'arab'.
The President: "Tell him that after his appearance, all the major clubs are asking for him."
The coach: "Have they run out of porters? Or DJs?"
The President: "Tell him that in a month's time, the kid's gonna be playing in the national."
The coach: "Tell me at which point I can find him so I can throw a few gardenias."

The language barrier leads to the best parts of a non-English speaking culture's identity being kept secret from mainstream Western society. Greeks have long taken agapoula-like figures for granted, at the same time as showering attention on the bigshots; few would have dared to speak out about them in the past. It's only in recent times that such taboos have broken down, spurred on by the crisis  which has demanded greater transparency and a greater incination to state the obvious.

The President has found some interested buyers.
Glossary: petreleopigi - 'oil source'; mihanaki - 'motorbike'; bambouini - 'monkeys'; poula - 'sell'.
The President: "Tell him that the team is like an oil source."
The Arab: "Tell him that with an oil source like that one, we can't even fill a motorbike."
The President: "Tell him that the bambouini are gonna love that team."
The translator: "Tell him that they're called 'bedouini'."
The President: "Tell him that Antoniou is in the team."
The Arab: "Tell him, what use is a coat in the desert?"

The easiest way to make a mockery of the lack of transparency in certain sectors of society is with cryptic jokes, which the agapoula ads have succeeded in doing, so well in fact, that the product this series of TV spots advertises is now insignificant compared to the impact the ads themselves have made on the TV viewers. What the viewers will remember of these brilliant commercials for the WIND cellphone company is not the Free2Go call packages, but the mafia-like face of the football club president who fell on hard times.

The President's been charged with match-fixing.
Glossary: tis kakias oras - 'hopeless'; hasodiki - 'bad lawyer'; koukoula - 'hood'
The President: "Tell that ham lawyer that I'm paying him to get me out, not to put the others in."
The lawyer: "Tell him that all his sing-songs on the phone fill more cassettes than Parios'."
The President:"Can't he find me a little window?"
The lawyer: "That man doesn't fit through a balcony door, let alone a little window."
The President:"Tell that case-loser to cut out the bullshit and tell me exactly what I have to do!"
The lawyer: "Tell him to give me five or six or seven names."
The President:"Is that what he said? Agapoula, get the hood*."

It has been a difficult past year in Greece in general, but no way have Greeks lost their sense of humour, as these tragi-comic scenes reveal. Greeks are in fact laughing with the 'President', and not at him. As Takis Spiridakis, the actor who plays the President, said in a breakfast talk show: "Η Ελλάδα τα τελευταία χρόνια είχε όλο αγαπούλες" (= Greece in recent times was full of 'agapoules').

*hood - During WW2, informers pointed out their victims to the Nazis while wearing a hood so as not to be recognised (the victims would have been fellow villagers of the informer). 

UPDATE: 21 June - Agapoula is back from 'Europe'.

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