1. Television. I have heard about (but never seen) a Turkish film in which a popular Turkish comedian, Omar the Tourist, is beamed into space where he has bizarre adventures with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock lookalikes.
The original *Star Trek * series has been translated into about every language there is, and shown everywhere on the planet. So has every popular series that doesn’t scan TOO “American;” I know that *I Love Lucy * has been shown regularly on every continent, but I’m not sure about Leave It To Beaver. I know that Gunsmoke was very popular in France a while back; for some reason, during the seventies, the French were totally ape over generic horse opera.
Some pretty advanced, industrialized countries don’t show a lot of American television any more, from what I hear, but most people in those countries would still know who Captain Kirk, Lucy Ricardo, or Marshall Matt Dillon were, I think.
2. Comics, particularly superheroes. I don’t know why – perhaps it’s due to the cheapness of the medium (at least, at first, when comics were sold on every newsstand), or perhaps it’s due to the ease with which they can be pirated and translated, but most countries’ populations seem to know who Superman and Batman are, as well as Spider-Man and many others; I once saw a Mexican wrestling match, back in the seventies, in which one of the wrestlers was wearing a pretty good Spidey costume. There’s also a hilarious bad movie from some country or other called 3 Dev Adam, or Three Mighty Men, in which Mexican wrestler Santo must team up with Captain America in order to stop the nefarious plot of the evil… Spider-Man?
Yeah, I know. Weird. But this one film alone would seem to prove my point; somehow, for some reason, comics got into these folks minds, and stuck there. This link will explain what I’m talking about; leads to i-mockery.com.