The worst show on Earth

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The worst show on Earth

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I am not smart. If you read a little further I’ll tell you why. Not for nothing, they call me the Cable King. I am glued to the tube because I’ve got it all, from Spice to Discovery. In my universe, I am God.

My most physically daunting task is lifting my hand and flipping the channels on my remote. The mental strain I feel is something like what George W. Bush must have felt when he was in office. I mean, in a nanosecond I have to decide whether to stay with my channel or move on. It is only natural, then, that stimulating images always get my vote. Or, when I am only half awake, screams like “Heeeeelp! Superman!” will do the trick. But then there is this odd brain mechanism that kicks in and tells me to stay put, even when I dislike a channel so much that I would rather endure another losing season with the Detroit Lions than stay with it for another minute. The reason for this perplexing behavior falls under the lose definition of what in psychology is called masochism.

But I must admit to getting a certain kind of painful pleasure from watching the show “Chatting Beauties,” a program where beautiful women show a little flesh, do a few dance moves, and engage in Q. and A. sessions that are so shallow they would even hold the interest of Miami’s entire bimbo population. The hitch (for me, anyway): all of the women are foreigners! Already, a couple of the ladies who have made appearances on the show have posed for bikini shots, which you can download with your iPhone for roughly $300 a pop.

The show (already in its third year and with no end in sight) popularized the English word “loser” here when a young university coed used the word to describe men who are less than 180 centimeters tall (that’s 5 feet, 9 inches for anyone feeling threatened). Her comments set off a national firestorm that had something to do with whether men with unwanted body hair could also be placed into the same category. But my memory’s a little fuzzy on that one.

Although I would love nothing more than to suffer for hours watching the show, my shrink tells me that doing so would put my particular brand of asexual masochism at serious risk of becoming full blown sexual masochism. And I clearly don’t want that to happen.

With South Korea’s foreign population eclipsing the one million mark, it’s no wonder that TV stations are trying to tap into a new market. But a show that features scantily clad ladies in miniskirts is not going to help the country become more “globalized,” as this program so shamelessly claims. The producers must have more holes in their brains than a chunk of Swiss cheese.

As Lee Charm, a naturalized Korean citizen by way of Germany who now heads the Korea Tourism Board, once said about the show: “I hate it!”

In contrast, “Tears of the Amazon,” aired by MBC a couple of weeks ago, is one of the best shows I’ve seen in years. The format is simple: it shows indigenous people living in the Amazon and how they are able to coexist with nature.

It was enough to make me think about what I’ve been missing. Given viewers’ penchant for mindless shows, the fact that it commands an audience share of 25 percent, an unprecedented number for documentaries, is a good indicator of what a thoughtful program can do - without the miniskirts.

*The gwangdae were entertainers in ancient Korea who wandered the land in search of their next joke or adventure.


By Brian Lee [africanu@joongang.co.kr]
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