How did I miss this before? Apparently Fox has a reality-tv show called Solitary. Contestants endure dehumanizing, Gitmo-style confinement and stress. The last one to cry Uncle wins.
And the rest of us are supposed to consider this entertainment.
I’ll occasionally entertain conspiracy-theory thinking, but I try to keep it in check. A show like this makes it hard to avoid. One can imagine the current administration saying to its buddy Rupert Murdoch something like “We need to find a way to make torture seem more palatable to the American people. Can you help us out with that?”
Familiarity breeds contempt. What better way to trivialize institutionalized torture than by turning it into a game show? A child growing up watching this show might look at sleep deprivation, etc, as something they do on game shows, and be inured to it.
I can’t think about this without feeling like the whole human species has gone off the rails.
I’ve been working on an ongoing translation project for the past four months. It’s being released in the USA under the title Unbeatable Banzuke on the G4 cable station.
The show was called 筋肉番付 (kinniku banzuke—”Muscle Ranking”) in Japanese, and aired about ten years ago.
Yesterday, I caught just a few minutes of a segment I had translated. From what little I saw, the production company hasn’t tampered much with my translation (as edited by my editor at the translation agency). The American version is kind of weird. They’ve got an American doing completely new voiceover, and his pronunciation of Japanese words is as bad as anyone who doesn’t know a lick of Japanese. The show closes with more completely new content in the form of a signoff by a Japanese-speaking announcer named Kei Kato, who was not a part of the original show. I’m not exactly sure what the point of this extra “local color” is. I’m also a little puzzled that they’d want the local color, but stick with such stridently Americanized pronunciation for Japanese words.
They also seem to have deleted all the original telops, including the many advertising the prize money for each event. This is reasonable, but since the contestants frequently make reference to the money they stand to win, I’m guessing they’ve probably edited those parts out. I’ll need to watch more to find out.
Sitting on an ergometer at the gym yesterday, I was equidistant between two televisions. One was tuned to Bravo, showing “Make Me a Supermodel,” the other on the hilariously misnamed The Learning Channel (seriously, this should be The Endumbening Channel), showing “Fad Diets.”
This juxtaposition all by itself was entertaining enough, but when they got to the part about people who actually do use tapeworms as a weight-loss tool, I was agog. Reality outpaces our ability to satirize it.
As I understand it, the position of the Writer’s Guild of America is that writers should be compensated for online distribution. The studios’ position is that media distributed online has no value.
So when I download a TV show over bittorrent, I’m supporting the studios’ position. They should thank me.