Top Ten Pop Culture References From Spoof Movies That Have Been Altered For The German Dub

Judging by the overly harsh criticism including death threats towards the writer-directors, I am pretty sure I am the only person on this planet who finds spoof movies amusing (to my defense: I also love the 50s and art movies). Sure, they are immature, crude and vulgar… but so am I, so why wouldn’t I like it? But even I have to say that they aren’t really good, but they entertain on a very dumb level, and land in my DVD player every once a while. The first “Scary Movie” and “Not Another Teen Movie” are the only ones that I’d actually call good comedy movies, not just dumbly entertaining.

I am also pretty sure I am the only person who watched these movies in two languages. As you might know, Germany is one of the few nations that dubs almost all movies, and I’d say that German dubs are fairly advanced. They use distinctive and professional voice actors who put the right feelings and emotions into the vocal delivery, and usually, an actor / an actress has one voice actor they are immediately associated with. Dubbing serious movies like dramas or thrillers or art movies, etc. is easy, as you can translate everything the way it is without the need to alter anything for better understanding. But with comedy movies, it’s a bit trickier, because often they get humor out of everyday situations that everybody in the country of origin can relate to but aren’t common in German speaking territory. Often, puns on idioms and phrases don’t work out because they simply don’t exist over here, or food, shops, social issues, laws, etc. are mentioned that we aren’t familiar with. The same happened the other way around: “Der Schuh des Manitu” is a classic German comedy movie from 2001 that happens to be the commercially most successful movie of all time in Germany. It’s also a parody of the adaptations of Karl May novels, which have been highly popular over here for decades. There’s also tons of word play and references to German pop culture, as well as the protagonists (a Native American and a Southern American who are blood brothers) constantly speaking with a Bavarian accent. Nothing of all of this can be translated, but still there was an English dub.

Now, the American spoof movies live very much from pop culture references. More often than not, they can be accurately translated. Everybody knows who Britney Spears or what Alice in Wonderland is, and so the jokes work out. After all, America is the biggest trendsetter to German language territory. But every once in a while, something very popular in the USA doesn’t get any attention over here, and so dubbers have to decide whether they’d rather leave the joke as it is but won’t get a laugh out of German speaking audiences or alter the verbal references to something that Germans are also familiar with. This list shows some examples of the occasions where the latter was the case.

The Top Ten

1 Simon Cowell ("Scary Movie 3" and "Meet the Spartans") Simon Cowell (

Oh, and I forgot: in "Vampires Suck" Becca says "American Idol would totally suck without Simon" in the original English version. In German she says: "Popstars definitely needs new judges." Which is weird, as "Popstars" had different judges each season. They could have as well said: "Das Supertalent would totally suck without Dieter Bohlen." - Martin_Canine

In many of these spoof movies, talent search shows are the butt of a joke. Of course, poking fun at the biggest of them is funniest as everybody knows them. So in both “Scary Movie 3” and “Meet the Spartans”, parodies of the then-current judges appear, most notably Simon Cowell (played by Cowell himself in "Scary Movie 3", and by an impostor in "Meet the Spartans"). Talent search shows are also extremely popular in Germany, and judging by how much longer they have aired over here than abroad, German speaking territories love them even more than anyone else. However, the American versions never aired over here, as the specifically German editions do, so Cowell isn’t known to Germans. Dieter Bohlen (a producer and one half of Modern Talking) is the major judge on the German versions of both “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent”, and one of the most famous celebrities of the country (although very polarizing), so in the German dub of both scenes, a near perfect ...more - Martin_Canine

2 "Not the douchebags from the Jersey Shore" ("Vampires Suck")

Fun fact: the vast of voice actors for the German dub of "Vampires Suck" is the same as that for the original "Twilight" movies, bringing the impostors even closer to the original. - Martin_Canine

In the original English language version, protagonist Becca, who is new to her school, asks her new friend “who that is”, referring to Edward. However, she mistakes that question and starts saying the name of the cast of "Jersey Shore", who stands next to him, but she is cut off by Becca with the line in the title of this item. However, while “Jersey Shore” did air for some time in Germany, it wasn’t a hit at all and barely anybody knew it. So instead of that, she says different names: those of the cast of “Beverly Hills, 90210”, which was more popular at that time. You only see the cast for a brief moment, and they have approximately the same looks. - Martin_Canine

3 "Dating Paula Abdul" ("Superhero Movie")

In “Superhero Movie”, the villain says that people who do three kinds of things are crazy: hearing voices, talking to cats and dating Paula Abdul. Here we have the same problem as with Simon Cowell, because she isn’t well known over here. The solution is pretty much the same as for Cowell. In the German dub, people who do these things are crazy: hearing voices, talking to cats and singing for Dieter Bohlen. - Martin_Canine

4 "The Kardashians are in town" ("Vampires Suck")

In “Vampires Suck”, Becca’s dad, the sheriff, is on the case of the killings done by the vampires. However, he’s got another theory who’s behind all this: the Kardashians. He says this in two scenes. In the first, he finds a corpse with every little drop of blood gone, and comes to one conclusion: “The Kardashians are in town”. In the second scene, a severed head lands near him, and he just casually shakes his head and mumbles, mildly amused: “Kardashians”. In Germany, the Kardashians weren’t well known as their show wasn’t a hit (I don’t even think it aired on a big channel) and Kanye West, as great as he musically is, doesn’t have the same status as in the USA. So the German dubbers had to get inventive, and change the lines so Germans get a joke as well. So now in German, his conclusion goes like this: “The Osbournes are in town”. May I say that this is even funnier because I’d rather picture Ozzy Osbourne drinking blood than Kim Kardashian. For the ...more - Martin_Canine

5 "Stop singing like Taylor Swift!" ("Vampires Suck")

In a motorbike riding scene, Becca pulls out a guitar out of nowhere and starts singing a parody of Taylor Swift’s “Hey Stephen”. Edward then tells her to “stop singing like Taylor Swift”. For whatever reason, as by 2010 Taylor Swift was already well known (not AS popular as in the USA, but people already knew who she was), they changed the line to “stop singing like a casting star! ” (“Casting star” is a term for a singer who became famous through a talent search show like “American Idol”). - Martin_Canine

6 "Kazaam!" ("Scary Movie")

The first “Scary Movie” is a comical masterpiece. Even those who usually hate spoof movies call this a classic comedy movie, and, at least over here, several quotes have made it into everyday language - ironically, the “Wazzup! ” scene is one of the most famous scenes of it, although the original commercial didn’t air over here. Anyhow, one of the very first jokes of the movie was altered in the German dub, because the movie it references isn’t known in Germany. The original dialog goes like this: “So you like scary movies? What’s your favorite? ” “I don’t know…” “Think.” “I know, Kazaam! Where Shaq plays a genie.” ”That's not a horror movie.” “Yeah, well, you've never seen Shaq act.”. In the German version it’s like this: “So you like horror movies? What’s your favorite? ” “I don’t know...” “Think.” “Oh, I know, Spiceworld with the Spice Girls! ” “That’s not a horror movie.” “As actresses, they are indeed the ...more - Martin_Canine

7 "They're something like Fox News" ("Vampires Suck")

In “Vampires Suck”, the Zolturi (a spoof of the Volturi from “New Moon”) are the vampire council, and are gruesome. To explain to Becca what extreme blood suckers they are, Edward's sister Iris says: “They’re something like Fox News! ”. Germany has completely different T.V. channels and news than the USA, and they wouldn’t have got the joke. Also, German news don’t really have a similar counterpart, so that wouldn’t have worked. So they changed the line to “They’re something like the GEZ! ”. The GEZ was responsible for collecting license fees for German T.V. channels until 2012. - Martin_Canine

8 "...or the Real Housewives of Atlanta" ("Vampires Suck")

When Edward explains to Becca what a vegetarian vampire is, he states that they only feed off animals and the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Like with most items on the list, the show was far more popular in the USA than in Germany, and so the German vegetarian vampires only drink the blood of animals and humans that can be found in containers. For whatever reason.

I also just realized that around 2010, American and German pop culture was most different. - Martin_Canine

9 "...but Emeril already took it" ("Disaster Movie")

While running away from a beast (which turns out to be Amy Winehouse later on), Will runs into American Gladiator Wolf. The entire scene plays out weird if you live in a country where nobody knows this show or is familiar with the concept, but since it’s a visual reference they couldn’t alter it. However, they changed a line of dialogue. Wolf states he wanted to get the catchphrase “Bam! ”, but Emeril Lagasse already used that. This guy isn’t known over here as well, so he simply says that a not specifically named T.V. cook used it. We have many famous T.V. cooks, but nobody uses a catchphrase. It was probably easiest to leave this entire sequence bizarre and unfunny to German language audiences. - Martin_Canine

10 "I found a husband for Star Jones" ("Date Movie")

When the heavily overweight Julia visits Hitch the Date Doctor to help her find a man, he says “I can’t help you and I found a husband for Star Jones”. Nobody knows who that is in Germany, and even I had to google her, despite getting the other references because I know a tad bit more about American pop culture of the 2000s than the average Austrian. In the German dub he says it differently, and even a bit less harsh: “I don’t think I can’t help you, and I even found husbands for the Weather Girls”. An 80s reference. Germans definitely get that. - Martin_Canine

The Contenders

11 "I promise I won't date Chris Brown" ("Vampires Suck")

Before Edward leaves, Becca has to promise him not to anything risky. She responds with "I promise I won't date Chris Brown". Since Rihanna is a superstar with lots of hit songs over here as well, the Chris Brown incident also received much media coverage over here, so I don't get why this joke was altered, but in German, she says "I promise I won't date Charlie Sheen". - Martin_Canine

12 "I'm Rick James, Bitch!" ("Epic Movie")

Silas, a parody of the monk in "The Da Vinci Code", only speaks pseudo-Latin, but there are subtitles in both English and German. Short before he seemingly fatally shoots Mr. Tumnus, he says "I'm Rick James, bitch! ". This phrase is from "Chappelle's Show" and refers to the singer Rick James. In the USA, this phrase became popular and made it into everyday language. As you might have guessed, neither Dave Chappelle nor Rick James are famous in German speaking territory (fun fact: I witnessed middle-aged men who thought that "Super Freak" sampled "U Can't Touch This" instead of the other way around, because the first song is virtually unknown), so the line wouldn't have made sense to Germans. Instead, the German subtitles read a very famous movie quote: "Hasta la vista, baby! "

For whatever reason, they kept the Rick James line in "Dance Flick". - Martin_Canine

13 "16 and Pregnant" ("the Starving Games")

In one of the earliest jokes in the movie, Kantmiss Evershot tells her boyfriend that she doesn't want to get children because they'd be born into a world in which people's misery is turned into a T.V. show. Her boyfriend nods and mumbles "The Hunger Games...". However, she reveals she actually talked about "16 and Pregnant". In the German dub, this was changed because in 2013, "16 and Pregnant" didn't air anymore on any popular channel and was never as popular to begin with. Instead, Kantmiss mentions one of the most popular reality shows in Germany: "Das Dschungelcamp", literally "The Jungle Camp". This is an inofficial nickname for the German edition of "I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Outta Here! " that's more commonly used than the actual title. In Germany, this show is more popular than in any other country (except for maybe the UK, which had even more seasons produced), and always receives huge media coverage long before the new season even started, when everyone is guessing the new ...more - Martin_Canine

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