Ok, it’s out now: Germans (used) to love David Hasselhoff

The best part of being German but not living in Germany is that you get a different perspective of how other nations see your home country, especially the perspective of the country you chose to live in. I live in Australia and I am already used to certain questions about where I might be from.

 

You’re not from around here, are ya?

Usually I am Dutch. At least that is what people think. Sometimes I am from Ireland. This opinion might be based on my hair colour as well as my inability sometimes to pronounce an English “th” properly. Most of the time it works out well, but after some letter and word combinations, I don’t know, I just fail to produce the right sound completely.

 

“She is German.”

Sometimes I am introduced with “This is my friend, she is German.” I am not sure why anyone would introduce someone else like that, but it actually happens quite often. I like to think that this introduction is based on a general need for clarification. If a person speaks with an accent, even though it might be a tiny little bit, it may raise the question of the person’s origin. Especially if this someone comes from overseas. Since Australians are always cautious about not appearing rude or offensive, and asking because an accent might be exactly that, there seems to be a demand for a short heads up.

Achtung! everyone, she is German. I like that actually. It’s almost German.

 

What people associate with Germans

Mostly, the reactions are something along the lines of: “From Germany? I love Germany. I’ve been there twice (which I find pretty amazing given travelling to Europe takes up quite a bit of travel time). I love Berlin. Such an amazing city and so much history.”

I love hearing about how much people love Germany. It makes me feel welcome and I know there will be a topic we can talk about at least for the next 15 minutes. Awesome, small talk topic checked! All good, if it wasn’t for this very bad German accent they put on all of a sudden. Just for me. At the rare occasions this happens I usually excuse myself to get another beer, a proper pint not a small one.

 

Put up or shut up, what’s wrong with Germans?

Sometimes I get asked some surprising questions. When I met my Canadian friend’s boyfriend, also Canadian, for the first time, he asked me the following question and to be honest, I had no idea it’s such a burning one:

 

What’s with that love for the Hoff? Why do Germans love David Hasselhoff so much? Why the hell?!

 

To that day, I didn’t even know that David Hasselhoff wasn’t a hero in other countries too, apart from Germany and Austria. I thought everyone in every single country in the world must have adored him as much as Germans do. Or as much as Germans did?

 

No, David didn’t bring down the wall

There is one thing I want to mention first, because – contrary to popular believe – David Hasselhoff wasn’t the reason the wall was torn down. As much as I adore David, I don’t agree with him on that one.

In truth, the story about David Hasselhoff and the wall that had been dividing Germany started with his song “Looking for Freedom” that was in the German, Austrian and Swiss charts at #1 for several weeks. This was a few months before November 9 1989, the day that marked the beginning of the end of the socialist dictatorship that had been ruled the German Democratic Republic (GDR) for 40 years.

He also happen to be in Germany when the wall finally came down. Indeed, David’s song about freedom (in general not specifically the freedom of Germans) as well as other songs by German artists like Westernhagen were later on seen as one the signs for the political change that was about to happen.

 

How he ended up on top of the wall

So, how did David Hasselhoff actually end up on top of the Berlin wall? You probably know the amateur video capture of him singing “Looking for Freedom” on the wall that made it around the globe and around Germany. He was wearing an awesome black leather jacket lit up by light bulbs and surrounded by an ecstatic crowd of West and East Germans, singing along for the freedom they had been waiting for so long.

 

Germans already loved The Hoff before the reunification

David Hasselhoff was actually extremely popular in Germany long before the reunification of Germany. He was known not so much for his singing but for being the main character called Michael Knight in Knight Rider in the 80s. In fact, David Hasselhoff is the TV hero of my childhood, along with Rudi Carrel, a Dutch TV personality and pre-version of a nowadays talk show host.

For me David Hasselhoff was just part of the Germany I grew up in. He was there whenever I sat down to watch TV or listen to the radio. The truth is, at some point I must have even thought he’s German. Or at least I was surprised he was not. Why else would he show up on German television all the time? He was just everywhere; and everyone seemed to like it.

 

The early bird…

Knight Rider and later Baywatch were the first American TV shows on German television and more grasping than their German relatives on the other 3 channels. No surprise David Hasselhoff took off in the Germany of the 80s and 90s. I am not saying, he took off because there wasn’t anyone else around, but less competition might have helped him stick out and made it easier for him to conquer the German market. But hold on, Knight Rider was an awesome show and also pretty popular in other parts of the world. And people say so was Baywatch.

 

…but the second mouse…

His popularity declined in the mid 90s. Even his next single in 1990 “Crazy for you”, which came out after “Looking for Freedom”, made it only at #7 in Germany (but at #1 again in Austria), followed by the next single “David” at #12 in the German charts (but #1 again in Austria) and some others that ended up at about the #20s.

David Hasselhoff was still around for some time in the reunified Germany, touring through Germany and Austria but since the days that have transpired since he’s been seen differently, especially by the nowadays German youth.

I realised the changing image when I was reading about new and cool German words that people have come up with. I was shocked.

“Rufst du mir’n Taxi? Bin schon ziemlich gehasselhofft!”

What do you think gehasselhofft means? It’s your turn.

Can you call me a taxi? I am already pretty ___ !

a) sloshed
b) drunk
c) wasted

 

What do you think about the German love for the Hoff? I would love to hear about it in the comments.

6 replies on “I am German and I love David Hasselhoff

  • Cate

    Ha! Funny! I recently moved to Leipzig from Melbourne, Australia and I too wondering why David Hasselhoff was considered so popular (no signs of this here yet). He’s considered somewhat cringe inducing in Australia as you know-did you see him on the celebrity reality tv show? Bizarre.

    Reply
  • Petra

    Hallo Anja
    Vielen Dank du sprichst mir aus der Seele.
    I am from Berlin and I have lived in Wales for 15 years. My friend just showed me this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRvd3auw6mw which made me look for articles on Germans and The Hoff. Immediately I came across your marvellous article. Thank you! There certainly is an obsession here about me being German and that I therefore must love The Hoff. Rudi Carell, the German accent. It’s all true for me, too.
    Greetings to Down Under.
    Petra

    Reply
    • Anja Mueller

      Hi! No problem. She said “Vorurteile” which simply translates to prejudice. She probably means people only think Germans love David but it actually isn’t true (I don’t agree :)). Hope I could help. 🙂

      Reply

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