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Crap, just crap. E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Bro Fan
CCTV 9 is hands down the biggest pile of crap on TV, anywhere. China Central Television boasts like 15 different channels, rather originally named CCTV 1, CCTV 2, CCTV 3 and so on, until you get to 12. After this, other handles are used, probably because everyone forgot what they were before, plus the fact that no-one could stand watching the rest of them to check what number they actually managed to get up to.

They are all, without exception, rubbish. As a result, my obscenely large television here at home is nourished almost entirely on a diet of pirated DVDs, plus the odd CD, if I can stand being in the same rooms as the accompanying bright blue screen when it is playing. Should lethargy have overcome me entirely, and I find myself in the unfortunate situation of eating my Teriyaki Chicken on the sofa alone, with no energy left to trudge to the DVD walk-in library, I might give the box in the corner a run for its money, and allow one final chance to redeem itself from the nadir of my criticisms.

Each time, without fail, I am forced to turn the glowing box off in disgust, moving onto more exciting pastimes such as playing with cigarette lighters, rearranging the fridge magnets, or reading December’s edition of That’s Beijing. Sure, you can’t always rely on terrestrial television to entertain the sky-high standards of people such as myself, which is why you might want to select the best you’ve got to represent you on the world cable scene. The makers of CCTV 9 - the English language station, also known rather ambitiously as CCTV International - clearly had better ideas, and decided to keep spewing out the same old crap as the 14 other channels, but to be presented in bad English.

It is a truly tragic state of affairs. I may say this again and again, but please: in a country of 1.3 gadzillion, could you folks seriously not come up with anything better? The result is a collection of wholly uninspiring presenters - who look even more bored than I am, but don’t even have the Teriyaki to provide at least some amusement - mumbling into their ill-fitting grey suits, sounding as if they’ve swallowed the Oxford English dictionary and are hell-bent on weaving their long-word-of-the-week into every other sentence.

The variety of programming is truly impressive - one moment you have a 15 year old documentary on penguins, the next you’re fighting your way through a hard 45 minute show on early Tang pottery, and before you know it, you’re being abused by a 10-strong gang of loud, brash and obnoxious 6 year olds all on a collective sugar high, singing some dreadful song or the other ad nauseam.

Then of course, there’s Discovering China, as the channel explains: “Hosted by native English speakers, the program shows how they look at and understand what is happening in the country. It is a different account by people who are often fascinated by this ancient yet modern nation.” Well, kind of. Thick with figures, dates, and names, and almost entirely devoid of any interesting content, this is a unquestionably a dull Chinese script, presented by some foreigner who figured a weekend away shooting some programme no-one’s ever going to watch, all expenses paid, might be quite a laugh. You can sense the poor dude’s hangover almost as much as his embarassment at hosting such a turkey of a show.

Most of us foreigners here in China have had the opportunity to play the ‘Westerner’ card at some point - the semi-celebrity status palmed off on you for the simple reason of not being Chinese. This can be as simple as having your photo taken by other Chinese visitors wandering around Tiananmen Square or Bell Tower in Xi'an, or indeed can lead to your own 5 minutes of fame on a television channel universally regarded as pitiful in the rest of the world.

But then enter the real celebrities. Yes, the rest of the Chinese population may not believe it, but there are some other people, apparently, who have learnt how to speak Chinese. Yes, real Chinese. And guess what? They’re not Chinese. They weren’t even born in China! Can you imagine!? Rumour has it they’ve even learned how to use chopticks!

As if to prove the fact, CCTV regularly parades these linguistically gifted foreigners in front of the cameras, for all to marvel at in the provinces. Quite which one will come to replace the nemisis of all round-eyed Chinese students, Da Shan, remains to be seen. But for all his foreheaded-glory, there are an ever increasing number of white boys who are brought out to look awkward on another sham of a TV show.

Yes, this is a channel with potentially the largest viewing figures in the world, and the criteria to get your own show appears to be limited to just one thing: Ability to speak Chinese. Not a mean feat, as many of us lambs to the slaughter can testify, but please. Whilst the programmes themselves wouldn’t last 5 minutes before being axed on an underfunded soft-porn cable channel in the West, the novelty factor of a white-skinned youth, regardless of the overpowering geek factor, is more than enough to make prime time viewing here in CCTV9 land.

And if they’re not presenting a tedious game show, they’re taking part in one. Performing a little dance, singing a bad song, telling a joke - whilst the (Chinese) crowd claps along, out of time.

Small wonder really that DVDs are so cheap here…Oh, and to leave you a final thought about CCTV, watch the Video (from April 2010) below which is titled: "CCTV “International Relations Expert” Forgets His Lines On National Television". Anchorman did not memorize his lines. This time CCTV was really in for it…


CCTV channel 2:

Host: “The Conflict between the Thailand red shirt protestors and the government army continues. Can this crisis end with peace? Will there be more painful bloody confrontations? Now we are linked to China International Relations Research Center, South East Asia department Dr. Chu Hao. Hi Chu Hao, From the program yesterday we can see that Thai prime minister Abhist Vejjajiva rejected Red Shirt’s peace overtures.  We also heard the news that Thailand Army may take actions within the next two days to forcefully disperse the protesters.  Do you think there will be new confrontation breaking out?”

Zhu Hao: “From the current situation, the possibility of confrontation breaking out has increased.  This includes two sides, first is the conflict between Red Shirts and the government deepens, Red Shirts uh… Red Shirts leader uh… said today… yesterday… uh… uh… he is willing to accept the parliament uh… to be dissolved uh… within 30 days… and uh…on the other hand… uh… Red Shirts is getting ready for armed struggle… the government… prime minister Abhist… uh… prime minister Abhist…  …”

[Long period of  silence]

Host: “Prime minister Abhist… go on, Zhu Hao.”

Zhu Hao: “uh….”


Zhu Hao: “uh… Prime minister Abhist tightened up the methods of breaking up Red Shirts, so first he uh… announced uh… expressed strong position… will further more… strengthened the armed crackdown of Red Shirts. On the other hand uh… he also announced he will implement reform to eliminate the unfairness in the society. uhhh… So uhh… where is the situation of Thailand going from here I think depends on uh… Thailand… uh… various… uh.. various political forces… uh… currently… uh.. uh… Red Shirts are taking more violent actions and the government are putting more pressures.  In march, Red Shirts already prepared self… self-made.. self-made weapons.  In April, Red Shirts not only robbed… hmmmmmmm… “


Host: “hmm… Ok, ok  Chu Hao, thanks, thanks…”

Dr. Chu makes a disappointing face and sticks out his tongue…

Our valuable Editor Bro Fan has been with us since Sunday, 06 June 2010.

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