tirsdag, mars 17, 2009
Global TV: Starcraft, mail-order brides and food porn
While I have not been watching a lot of TV on this round-the-world trip (apart from Argentinian football of course), what I have seen does grant some insight into different cultures. And as always, it is the weird shit that tickles the interest the most.
In South Korea for instance, there are multiple channels broadcasting live matches of the 10-year old computer game Starcraft, still massively popular on the peninsula. The best players are treated as minor celebrities, as I saw when happening upon the TV studio on the top floor of a huge shopping mall. The production was very dramatic and came across as an enthusiastically nerdy sporting event.
The weirdest thing to be seen in Taiwan's late night TV are long shows of Vietnamese brides, who get a five-minute segment each to dance around semi-provocatively in flimsy clothing, while the essential figures about them are displayed, including the number to call if you feel like marrying one. Taiwanese men will spend close to 10k USD for a marriage to be set up, and the business is popular enough that the ethnic demographics of Taiwan are changing. Crass commercialisation of human relations or just efficient marketing?
Cooking shows are also widely popular in Taiwan, but not to the insane degree of Japan. Food porn is always on, and while given the extremely high standard of Japanese cuisine a certain focus in understandable, but not to the obsessive degree of these shows. Frequent, loving pornographic closeups of bubbling dishes are accompanied by tacky music and idiotic commentary. This is all a build-up to the money shot of a celebrity or just an average Joe finally tasting the dish, unfailingly exclaiming "Oishii!" (delicious) with an orgasmic grin, non-pixellated. Apparently this is what Japanese viewers want, certainly there is a telling lack of a debating public sphere in the media. Harmony and harmless food is the order of the day in Japan Inc.
Over in Argentina the national obsession of Maradona-land is of course football. It is everywhere in daily life and of course all over the media. In addition to fluff like interviews on the daily lives of players and their families, there is an in-depth show called "Ping-Pong", which shows every goal chance of the match, adding them up and coming up with a ping-pong score of missed chances, thereby providing an analysis of who really should have won. The ball is, as we know, round. I eagerly await the hypothetical Hooligan: The day-to-day life of an Argentinian mobster.