Tuesday, August 24, 2010

TV in China


I think I watched the ending of an episode of China's Next Top Model. All the contestants seemed bad (just like on America's Next Top Model). The woman they kicked off the show was as thin as a ballerina. Just before she left they had her stand on a scale. As she stood there, the refrain from "You're Beautiful" played. She cried when she saw she weighed 56.9kg, a clip was shown of a plumper, more confident, version of her in an earlier episode, and everyone hugged her and cried. It was pretty clear the show had broken her spirit and started her on the road to an eating disorder. Even the girl that "won" the episode had to undergo several minutes of criticism.

This show consisted of four people with laptops and a host. You watched the people play a game similar to hearts on a computer screen:


I saw an infomercial for "Sand" watches (obviously not a brand form an English speaking country). They looked very gold, had two certificates of authenticity, were coated with 0.03microns of 99.9% gold, and had "Au999" prominently displayed on their face:


I think there was a teeny tiny diamond on there, too. The announcer had a mustache that was obviously fake. (The watches cost 44 American dollars.)

There was a period drama:


And a cooking program:


Some guy in a pink shirt talks to people in chairs. The books behind him have titles like "STRUTS IN ACTION" and "Javaserver Pages", but measurements unrelated to computer programming appear on the screen, like ">150mg/dL", ">50cm", and something with "moles", so I have no idea what he was trying to teach (if he was teaching at all).


There were several American channels with Chinese subtitles. American news channels do not have Chinese subtitles, so if you don't know English you wont understand what is being said.

This seems to be a soap opera set in a rural area. the buildings look dilapidated but the people seem to be dressed in brand new clothing, right off the rack:



An old woman sings while young men dance synchronized hip-hop behind her. A large audience waves lights as she performs:


Chinese opera:


A Tide commercial:


Some sort of comedy with a nerd-type with big glasses and a group of attractive female co-stars:



They seemed to work in a clothing store and always had very strong emotions on their faces.

There is an Arabic channel, with subtitles in Arabic, Chinese, and English. This program had a black guy, an Asian guy, and an elderly white lady showing how to do Tai Chi:


There was also a Russian channel. I asked why the Chinese government had television channels in Arabic and Russian. I was told it was to send propaganda over the border.

There were some shows made by the Chinese government in English, so I could consume some of their propaganda. It was a lot of touristy/panda/"learning Chinese is fun" crap but I did enjoy the show "Crossover" which always seemed to end abruptly (right in the middle of conversations). I see the show is available on-line and even there the shows end the same way.

I caught the ending to the American movie "Carrie". What was weird was how they censored the ending. They had all the violence at the prom, but when the mother was killed they only showed a close-up of her face; all the Christian iconography was cut out. I think they were trying to cut out the Christianity, even though the ending isn't exactly material anyone would use for proselytizing. The censors had no idea what they were doing.

Anyway, TV there looked boring; drained of anything interesting or truly cultural.


Pete said...

China's television looks bizarre but then again I'm sure ours does, too, to a foreigner's eyes. I'm still struck at the Westernization of their culture. It's like they took a Western idea - Top Model - and put their spin on it. Except for the Chinese opera, very little appears to be rooted deeply in Chinese culture.

I'm enjoying these posts. What a trip you went on.

El Pollo Real said...

how America is better than China

Fascinating tag unto itself. I hope you continue and make a series.