Money and face yoga make my head acheMoney is now the loudest voice on Korean television. In this material world, everyone is screaming, “Show me the money,” and television must listen and obey this voice to survive. Money has become the subject which programmers think is bound to have viewers (and advertisers) glued to the TV screen. This is leading to a trend of what Americans call “infotainment” - an ugly term coined by forcing information and entertainment into a loveless marriage. Producers are pretending that their mission is to force television away from its reputation as an idiot box so it can become a source of “information you can use.”. Take an entertainment show on MBC-TV, titled “Sunday, Sunday Night.”
Airing on primetime Sunday evening at 6 p.m., “Sunday” is currently the No. 1 show in the time segment. Behind this success is the show’s slot, “Let’s Play, Economy,” during which financial experts every week offer advice on how to get rich. To remain true to that “infotainment” spirit, the show’s format involves visiting a celebrity’s house. Then the show has the financial experts check the celebrity’s financial status and give tips on how their subject can make more effective investments. The segment’s emcees are comedians who spit out silly jokes, so it fits the “infotainment” framework. Last week, the show urged viewers to invest in “advanced country bonds” until early spring.
Another sure-fire element of the show is a segment about health - or more precisely, how to look younger. It’s called “Young Face Club,” and involves celebrities answering a health quiz. Some of the celebrities wear gym suits and dangle from ladders. If they give the wrong answers, the ladder drops and strange smoke wafts over the stage. Last week’s segment was about anemia and a recent segment featured “face yoga,” in which celebrities made strange faces which they believed made them look 10 years younger.
Following the success of “Sunday,” other major TV channels are following suit, launching new “how to make money” programs. SBS-TV is offering “Let’s Live Well Off” tomorrow at 7 p.m., a title that reminds Koreans of the national motto from the breakneck economic growth of the 1970s. KBS-TV, which has already enjoyed success with an “infotainment” show on health, called “Vitamin,” is launching another version dealing with money issues, titled “Economy Vitamin.”
So far I have been unmoved by these “infotainment” shows, but I guess I’m in a minority. My mother tells me every night to watch cable TV shows that teach how to invest in stocks, instead of “Sex and the City.” Well, I love the ABBA song “Money, Money, Money,” but it’s for the rhythm not the lyrics. The acronym “CD” still means “compact disc” to me, not “certificate of deposits.”
One of my best friends dreamed of being a poet in college, but now he is working very hard for a bank. He’s even badgering me to invest in something called “Sector ETF” or “Umbrella Index Funds.” To me this sounds like a foreign language. Then I had to listen while he told me I must redesign my financial portfolio or regret it 50 years from now but I still don’t understand what that ETF thing is; although I’m told its an abbreviation of Exchange Traded Funds.
Another best friend of mne is living true to his dream of changing the world , but he is just scraping by and his prime concern is how to get out of the red. Maybe it’s time for all of us to surrender to this material reality, although that is the last thing that I want to do. Money has made television change for the worse. If it does the same to me I will be sad and angry.