Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Same Same, But Different! Pt 11: Local Television

Nice shootin', pardner. . .

In the vernacular where I live, the saying goes "payback's a bitch"; another way of saying what goes around, comes around. Perhaps it'd be clearer for some readers to note it makes reference to karma, although this isn't a piece on revenge - it's indirectly more about the love/hate relationship many of us have with television programming.

Without going into detail better left un-posted, the television up top lay down it's functional existence via a large caliber hand gun a few days ago. Granted, it was merely the messenger, but still...

No, I'm not one of those Hunter S. Thompson wannabes - thankfully I outgrew that in my first couple years of college or I'd be a rather sad example of a human today - but seeing this electronic bearer of bland tidings dispatched with such a vengeance warmed the very cockles of my aging heart.

You're far less likely to be
graced with wisdom from a
monk in Idaho than you are
to hear crop news from
Zeke and Jeb
In the earliest days of television broadcasts in the USA some of you will remember gathering with friends to watch a test pattern for a while and marvel at this miraculous new technology. The unfortunate side note to that is how some programs broadcast today aren't much more stimulating as those earliest static test images.

Local programming is the worst, hands down. Aside from the kitsch factor and the wealth of opportunities to gather blooper clips for YouTube there's rarely little danger of running across anything of quality on a small town broadcast, unless you really need an instructional program on how to go about tipping a cow.

Let me save you the time if you feel compelled to leave a comment defending local program by saying it has its place, and it can be amusing, albeit often unintentionally. I myself have appeared on smaller market programs a couple of times to be interviewed about independent film-making, but that's a completely different topic.

When I'm on the road here in the USA I tend to stay in mostly utilitarian lodging, and that means there's often not a lot to do within easy striking distance. After a day's driving or whatever I all too often find myself watching TV, and seeking out the local news or other programming. It gives me a glimpse into life in that particular area, and yes, crop reports are life to many people.

If I'm not careful, though, I can become hooked on Thai television. The cheesier the better, for some reason.  I suppose it has something to do with the gluttony and sloth I'm already signed on for when I leave the rationality of my everyday life behind.  I stay up too late, I spend too much, I'll eat an order of food enough for three people and behavior I'd normally keep a reign on I can justify from Hell to breakfast, no problem at all.

Most of you will notice that this South Park clone

Again, I don't speak Thai; but I'd guess the worst of the broadcasts are those I see broadcast in Thai.  The Thai love their "stories" equally as much as some in the US love following the Kardashians. Kindly note I did not include myself in that group.

Thai soap operas feature action so exaggerated and with such low budget technical skills they're rather like potato chips; difficult to just eat one or two (maybe I should have likened them to a road accident - you don't really want to look, but most of us do). Before you know it an hour's gone, and if you have a friend with you who hasn't been howling with laughter because it's a comedy they're usually staring at the screen with rapt attention, as if another episode will follow immediately after the one that just ended.

Unfortunately, as some of you know, there often IS another one of one sort or another on directly afterward, and if you've allowed your Thai friend(s) to start watching stories you may have lost them for the evening. In some cases that's a beneficial thing; my friend can be entertained while I'm checking email, transferring photos off the camera or taking a nap.

I'm not implying that the Thai are unintelligent or anything of the sort. More often than not, if one of my friends picks up the remote (and can't find a football broadcast) they tend to settle on an educational program for a while - nature shows depicting other parts of the world are favorites - but it usually isn't long before the sounds of channel roulette stop and are replaced by canned laughter and the "zooops! thunk! booiiinng!" noises of one simple Thai comedy or another.

The Thai have no corner on the cheesy TV broadcasts there, though; there's one local Pattaya channel many I know have come to dislike, if for no other reason that they insist on mispronouncing the name of the place. Some may be quite fond of it, so I'll leave it unnamed, and I do occasionally stop while flipping around the dial to see if there's the slim chance they aren't re-broadcasting the paid clips from one club of drunken revelers or another.

The same smiling interviewer will repeat something along the lines of "So, you have many visitors come here for the fun I see... tell us a bit about that!" and then hold the microphone up to the the person next to them - that person often wearing the face of a deer caught in the headlights.  The locale changes, the interviews rarely do. It's a living, and it is entertaining in small doses sometimes, I have to agree.

Returning to my room one night I was looking for some news in English and happened across it. Someone at the station was asleep at the board and they were broadcasting the image below.  Just for kicks and giggles I checked back a few times before turning in that night, and it hadn't changed.

It was one of the better programs I'd seen them run in a while.

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