Sunday, August 21, 2005

What's Real?

I don't like "reality TV" and I mock it with gusto. I can understand why it would be popular though. Not only are most reality TV shows run like a sporting event (for which many people already have their own system of predictions and favorites set up), the pseudo-reality in reality TV is just barely more fantastic than the "real reality" that identification and projection is easy. If that fails, then there's the backup measure, and sadly sometimes the main attraction, of watching other people cry, humiliate themselves, and go through all the melodramatic gestures necessary in these shows. Even if it is laughing at others' pain, it's a level of drama and excitement that exceeds the excitement of the quotidian. At least that's what I observe.

If reality TV has been a big hit in America, with a population of about 300 million, think what it could be like in China, with a population of almost 1.5 billion. Actually, no need to think. Look: "Super Girl" is a direct translation of an accepted abbreviation for the show and its participants but basically, it's Chinese Idol version Female.

The show is in its second year and this year, it's a runaway hit. It engenders everything from abbreviations adopted into common parlance to fans, the audience, and viewers like you at home crying themselves silly. So let me let you in on a little secret: "PK" is an abbreviation for "Player Killer" which means eliminating somebody from Chinese Idol. But people use it in everyday speech now to refer to eliminating or rejecting somebody. So if you're a guai lo in Shanghai and you insult the show, your ass is gonna be hella PKed back to the States.

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