The Oslo Cliché-a-Thon

What’s more clichéd than holding a boombox outside someone’s window or running to the airport to steal a final kiss? My experiences can’t hold a candle to those two (see what I did there? It’s a cliché. Read a book.) but here are two corny happenings from the week that only the most coked-out B movie scripts would ever think were original:

A. Russian Gangsters

“Bad guy from unidentified Eastern European country” is as classic a Hollywood cliché as big-bosomed blondes or Kung Fu backflips. I’m talking Rocky IV’s Ivan Drago and his iconic “I must break you,” or pretty much any bad guy on 24 when they decide to stop picking on the Arabs for a season. These heavily-accented thugs are a staple of our film culture — but surely it’s just a stereotype?

Well, two nights ago in my hostel lobby I overheard a guy scream into his phone — literally word-for-word verbatim — “I come to your house I fucking kill you. You give me shit you fuck business I kill you.” Maybe this is how Russians greet each other, or maybe he was just having a bad day, but then the guy slammed his phone shut and began talking with his partner. In Russian. And I heard the word “stab.”

I honestly hope he’s just emulating Drago the way we emulate James Bond. But the adidas tracksuit and Putin-style strut painted an alarmingly different picture.

B. Belting “Like a Rolling Stone” in a Moment of Emotional Frustration

What’s more clichéd than teenage angst? Teenage angst set to background music.

As I found out last night, the girl I’d been pursuing for the week had a boyfriend (and not just any boyfriend — in true cliché fashion, he was a foreigner flying in to see her that same night!) so in a fit of frustration I threw on headphones and decided to take an angsty walk. Luckily for me, Oslo after 11pm sees about as much action as I did on prom night — that is to say, it’s so quiet you can hear a pin drop (cliché #2!) — so I decided to belt out the lyrics to the first song that came on: Like a Rolling Stone.

To recap: a lovelorn foreigner in a strange land, dancing in the moonlight and beating his inner demons while screaming “Hoooow does it feeeeeeeeeel to be on your own?” — I’m pretty sure this is the ending to about eight TLC movies.

If my time in Oslo were a made-for-TV movie, now would be the climax of Act 3 — not exactly the one hour mark, but certainly in the zone after 54 minutes. As any Hollywood Hack knows, things come in bunches of three — and, as this is the denouement, I’m expecting something appropriately cheesy. Do I make that dash to the airport? Do I learn that the courage I’ve needed was inside me all along, or that I’ve travelled 4,000 miles away only to discover I never left home?

As the cliché goes, only time will tell.