YouTube sensation and source of indescribable shame for those of us unfortunate enough to compare our adopted accents to his, Dustin Luke swung by the Bubble to announce that his fans will soon have yet another forum to get their Yankee fix on.
The Bubble: Congratulations! So what can viewers expect on Dustin Luke & Nihill: Dos Yankees Sueltos En Argentina?
Dustin: So this is actually the first time [TN] is doing anything like this. What we are doing is creating a link between TN’s website and our television program that premiers on Telenoche this Friday. There will be four online videos the days leading up to the TV premiere that are going to be more like YouTube creator style. They’re kind of teasers that lead up to Friday which will be the full episode.
The idea is that it’s a show that features this Yankee who is in love with Argentina, who is more or less Argentinizado, and his buddy — another guy from the USA — that get to travel around Argentina. We want to do typical things in cool places but give the audience a different perspective and maybe show people something new as well.
The Bubble: I want to build off of this idea of being “Argentinizado” for a minute. The whole idea behind the Bubble was to do something that provided our readers with the tools and information they needed to get outside of these expat or foreigner “bubbles” and experience life outside of the Palermo comfort zone.
Before you achieved this level of “Internet celebrity,” how did you get out of the “bubble”? What kind of advice can you give people looking to interact with real people and really experience Argentina?
Dustin Luke: I was just really aggressive with reaching out to people when I got here. I was really hincha pelotas about learning the language. I was obsessed with every new word, every new phrase. This was back when MSN messenger was big so I would dedicate hours to talking to people online and could learn these phrases and terms and had the opportunity to ask, “Hey what does this mean?!”
The Bubble: The idea is that language is key?
Dustin Luke: I mean yeah, you’ve got to get in there. You have to really want it and get out there. It helps to make the situation way better. There is so much power being able to put yourself in these uncomfortable situations.
The Bubble: So your advice is: put your money where your mouth is and get comfortable with getting uncomfortable.
Dustin Luke: Right, use it to your advantage. Even now people will say, “Oh man I forget you’re not from here,” but there is something really cool or endearing about someone who is willing to put themselves out there and learn.
The Bubble: Even at your somewhat ridiculously good level of Spanish, is there a word that you still get hung up on?
Dustin Luke: “La Rural” — it’s even weird in English. That’s my word it’s just doesn’t come out right.
The Bubble: I feel better about myself now. That means a lot. OK, back to the show. Talk to me about where you guys have gone for the show so far.
Dustin Luke: Oh man, we’ve been to a few places already. We are still shooting and will be going all over. But we went to Salta and it’s BEAUTIFUL. But it was kind of crazy — we had to get a whole team to help us out of the airport. There were 150 people at the airport. People were incredible. They just wanted pictures or an autograph. Mostly though, they just wanted to say, “Thank you, we genuinely love what you do.”
The Bubble: What do you think people are connecting with?
Dustin Luke: I think it’s this overwhelming passion [for Argentina] that they see we have. I love Argentina — I’m not the first person to do this or feel this way. But I think I might be the first Yankee to be in the public eye saying, “I am completely infatuated with Argentina.” Everyone here is used to a lot of negativity and then they see someone like me saying, “Guys, this place is incredible.” From the salt flats and desert in Salta and to Tierra del Fuego, people are saying, “Wow, thank you — you’re right, we really do have it good.” People are just so used to thinking and asking, “Why would a Yankee come here when the good life is there?” There are so many reasons. So many.
The Bubble: Have you perfected answering that? We all get asked it — Why Argentina? Te gusta la Argentina? And of course we do, that’s why we’re here. But at this stage of the game, you pretty much have that answer down pat.
Dustin Luke: I don’t! I don’t have a one-sentence answer. I just have tons of examples and start with those until the conversation gets cut off. I mean, I did a video on that exact thing because you get asked it so much living here. That’s one of the videos that has done the best, I’d say. But really, you don’t see how beautiful this country is until you see it from an outside perspective.
The Bubble: Tying into that, do you feel pressure to show that conversely, Yankees don’t always have to suck?
Dustin Luke: I don’t necessarily feel pressure but I like that what we are doing is helping. I get the message of, “Sos el único yanqui que me cae bien,” and maybe somebody has told you that before too, but it’s a really strong thing to hear. I feel really good when I hear it. I’m not here to make some huge change or anything but I think it’s a really positive thing because this project does unite the Yankees and the Argentines a little bit more. That’s really great because the relationship isn’t always so comfortable.
The Bubble: One more question to wrap up. You had mentioned feeling really Buenos Aires focused for most of your time here. What are some of the places outside of Buenos Aires that blew you away?
Dustin Luke: Up until now, Cafayate has been my favorite. It’s just incredible. WE take a LOT of Instagram pictures. People can see what I’m talking about on Instagram and Twitter using #DustinLukeEnSalta. The #DustinLukeEn hashtag will let people see what we are seeing. There is just so so much to see.
To be honest, the idea of talking to a YouTube sensation originally elicited a vague sense of apathy in me that bordered on nausea, but I was genuinely impressed with Mr. Luke. His connection to Argentina is genuine, as is his excitement for reminding Argentines how cool their country is.
The concept of having a real intercambio gets lost far too easily between talks of debt restructuring, vulture funds and the lasting effects of failed foreign intervention. Maybe Dustin Luke is on to something. Instead of putting all our focus on getting a formal dialogue back on track between the powerful in Yanquilandia and Argentina, maybe we should start on the ground by putting ourselves out there. Starting an actual dialogue that is, well… actually enjoyable might do wonders to ease the growing chip on the shoulders of both the neo-imperialists and revolutionary wannabes alike.
It’s easy to see why Dustin has millions of views on YouTube, 79,000 Twitter followers and over 90,000 Instagram followers: his enthusiasm and genuine love for this country are contagious. He is, despite my best journalistic effort, impossible not to like. I thought my envidia sana would end at his accent and his ease of Spanish phrase, but it went way deeper. Both his passion for this country and ability to connect to the incredible people that live here are as enviable as they are noble.