It is not a part of German culture to withold one's disapproval. Many foreigners who live here can recount tales of being told off for anything, anything at all, which a passer-by deems improper.
Haughty matrons tell off the Heidelbergerin for not packing her groceries fast enough at the Aldi. Ian in Hamburg gets the stink-eye for riding his bike in the afternoon on a work day. Phone operators chastise me for not having the serial number of my washing machine handy when I call for a repairman. And customs officers assure everyone that no matter how the form is filled out, it's wrong.
Yes, we like to point out each other's faults, here in Germany. So it shouldn't surprise us that among the highlights of last month's viewing, we find Pro Sieben's Most Annoying Germans of 2011.
If you open the list of fifty most annoying Germans, one sees the smiling face of Boris Becker. This shocked me. Not that Becker made the list, but rather, that there were 49 others in front of him.
The Odd Men Out
Television viewers selcted the Die Nervigsten Deutschen, and they showed quite specific tastes in their distaste. They filled the top five slots with tabloid glitterati, except for one.
The Pope (#4), technically qualifies as a German, and a Bavarian at that. But to call His Holiness annoying is to call Dick Cheney a little haughty, or Bernie Madoff an inconvenience.
Two of this year's Nervigstern filed in joint names, those cooing turtledoves Pietro Lombardi and Sarah Engels. The pair fell in bed love when they placed first and second on Deutschland Sucht den Superstar, part of the Pop Idol franchise. They got engaged soon after, and many smelled a cynical PR opportunity. The pair drips with starry-eyed goo. Each wears a silver ID bracelet that reads Sarah and Pietro, and have been seen, in public, sharing a lollipop. They are so romantic, they are rarely seen outside each other's mouths.
And you know what? Good for them. Public displays of affection annoy only the cynical, the miserable and the loveless. Yes, voting public, that obviously means you.
The panel of TV commenters weren't far behind the mob, baying for blood and public humiliation.
Comedian Simon-Gosejohann chided Pietro for having no self-awareness or interior life. Rapper Sido trotted out the old chestnut that dumme Menschen sind glücklich, or stupid people are happy, to wild applause from the studio audience. Comedienne Carolin Kebekus just kind of sneered.
A Bunch of Boobs
What annoys the public more than romance? Breasts, it would appear. The remaining three finalists sport boobs like zeppelins, as the professionally annoyed panel reminded us.
The booth announcer commented that fifth place mononame Indira had just been reassessed by ratings agencies, and "upgraded from a D+ to a DD+". Amid many shots of second place Gina-Lisa Lohfink's ample bustline, Sido cattily christened her Vagina-Lisa, and moderator Micky Beisenherz changed her last name to Lohfick. For those of you who don't know: ficken, in German, means to fuck. It takes real class to be that annoyed.
(An aside: According to Hä, the Langenscheidt youthspeak dictionary, young German men call such a rack a docking station. They don't seem to be terribly nervig.)
So, who is the most annoying German for 2011? It's the pneumatic Daniela Katzenberger, an actress/model/singer/personality/author. At first glance, she might seem like a celebrity in the Gabor or Kardashian mold—or as we say in German, she has no hobbies. But like the cat after which she is named, her cunning hides her genius. Her autobiography confirms it: it's titled Be Crafty, Play Dumb.
She is truly a child of the media, with an unerring sense for publicity. As a teenager, she auditioned for a spot on Auf und Davon – Mein Auslandstagebuch, one of the several popular reality shows which document the tales of Germans who set out for a new life abroad.
Daniela set her eyes on Chicago, and scored an internship with Hooters. When Hooters learned that their new intern would be bringing a TV crew, they rather wisely demurred. But that didn't stop Katzi, and she delivered her application to become a Playboy Bunny to Hugh Hefner himself. I understand he offered to marry her, before someone reminded him that he was married already.
From there, no-one could stop her.
Who's Annoying Whom?
I think it's fair to ask a question of the people behind The Most Annoying Germans of 2011.
That question is not what will people think of Germany with all these programmes about Germans getting on each other's nerves and wanting to leave the country?
No, the question is who the hell do you think you are?
The gracious Miss Katzenberger has not responded to this taunt on her highly-professional, multilingual website. (I notice that none of the panel of commenters has a goddamn multilingual website, BTW.)
But if she should wish to tell these TV sorts where to get off, I invite her to do it this Friday, January 13. It, of course, is the fourth annual Deutschland über Elvis International Day to Bite Me.
Bite me, bitte!
Snarl at them, Katzi. You can read all about the history of The International Day to Bite Me at its homepage on Deutschland über Elvis, join in the fun on our Facebook event page, or follow the hashtag #bitemeday.
DüE declared the day in response to the annual Clean Off Your Desk Day, and it celebrates, with a hearty bite me!, a deserved riposte to all those busybodies who will tell you how to live your life.
Daniela, you can let those puppies loose anywhere you want. Ignore what people say!