If you're in America right now, I'm really jealous of your horn of plenty that is American TV. I took my home country's TV for granted, and now I realize how good I really had it. The USA makes the best freakin' TV shows in the world, and to quote the most awesome guy in the universe Joe Donatelli, "right now is the Golden Era of Television." I soon realized shortly after moving to Japan that Japanese TV sucks ass. Let me explain the primary reasons...
Japanese TV producers are either given no money to make a decent show or they just don't care. Whatever the reason, they spend next to nothing on producing crappy TV entertainment, and it shows. I spend more on my own YouTube videos than they do on their TV shows.
Many shows fall into 1 or more of the following 4 categories:
- People sitting around on a gaudy 1970s Las Vegas-looking set and talking--usually about current events or stupid stuff that other people on the show did or said.
- People eating food far superior to whatever you're eating at the time and making a huge deal out of how delicious it is. This is the perfect show to watch while you eat Cup Noodle after a hard day of shoveling heaps of corporate donkey shit. Pour yourself another glass of vodka to wash down the MSG noodles, then cry yourself to sleep.
- People playing some trivia game or Japanese kanji quiz on a gaudy 1970s Las Vegas-looking set.
- People watching videos or re-enactments of stories from the USA, Europe, Australia, etc. Flash back to the gaudy 1970s Las Vegas-looking set, and the celebrity guests will comment on whatever top YouTube video was just shown. Shameless robbery of Western entertainment wallowing in sheer laziness. Well, I suppose the West steals from the East at times too, but this just pisses me off.
Then there are Japanese dramas. Sometimes good writing makes up for the lack of budget, but the fact that they often film them in and around the TV station's office building severely limits the show's creative stretch. If the show is on Fuji TV, you'll see Fuji's offices in just about every drama. They'll almost never build a set, and the rare times they do, it will look like the set from your high school's production of "Carousel." The reason behind this lies in the 3-month cycle that all Japanese dramas follow. A drama is on for 3 months, then done. Unlike kick-ass American shows like "Lost," their dramas don't go season after season. Why spend money on a set for a 3-month show?
Aspiring Japanese actors and actresses are obviously trained in stage acting and not TV acting. Stage acting is meant to be big and exaggerated so that audience members in the back of the theater can see, hear, and appreciate the stage action. TV acting should be far more subtle because the camera puts the audience in close proximity to the players. Over-acting is unnecessary. Watch an American TV show from the 1950s, and you'll see plenty of stage acting. Fortunately, we matured out of it. Japan hasn't yet.
Most Japanese actors and actresses tragically overact. It's so obnoxious that any shred of entertainment value remaining drips directly from the abysmal performance. It's like watching bad karaoke. It's so bad it's entertaining (for the first 3 minutes).
Always Dubbing, Never Subtitling
When they do show an American movie, they most often dub it in Japanese as opposed to subtitle it. So obnoxious. Every Hollywood blockbuster is instantly transformed into a cheezy 1970s kung fu movie. I wanna hear Jessica Alba's sexy voice, dammit!
The largest and most famous talent agency in Japan specializes in boy bands. After paying their dues as hot pants-clad, pretty-boy singers, these boys inevitably end up being the next generation of actors, announcers, and commentators on TV. Imagine Hanson reading your daily news to you. Imagine the New Kids on the Block commentating on Obama's administration. Imagine Marky Mark in big Hollywood movies. Oh, wait...that actually happened. Well, it's still freakin' obnoxious--kinda like the way I keep over-using the word "freakin'."
What's Up With All the Transvestites?
Japanese must love transvestites because they're all over the TV. "Whoa! That chick is hot...oh wait...that's a man...dammit...got me again." Where transvestites in the Puritan US often fulfill a "circus freak" role; those in Japan enjoy mainstream entertainment jobs as announcers, comedians, and commentators. One is even featured on a commercial for women's leg-shaving gel. Yeah, if I were a woman, that would be my brand of choice--you know it could stand up to some pretty tough leg hair situations. Just as Jewish people rule the American entertainment industry, transvestites must rule the Japanese one. I gotta remember to dress like a chick at my next audition.
This is where you tell me, "Hey David! If Japanese TV sucks so much ass, then don't watch it!" I won't. Luckily, I recently implemented an XBMC PC loaded with the "Navi-X" python script. You're totally cool if you know what that is. This computer dork gadget/software gathers hundreds of online video feeds so that I can enjoy as much Discovery channel, Animal Planet, and Angry Video Game Nerd as my soy sauce-marinated heart desires.
Although this article was intended to rag on Japanese TV, rarely do I find that things in life are that clear-cut. Japanese TV does have 2 saving graces:
- There is no shortage of cute girls on Japanese TV. God bless them for that. I'm like a dog reacting to a loud sound. My eyes and ears will focus on it for a bit, then I'll get back to biting my balls. It's the cheapest form of stimulation and the highest form of marketing, and every TV show production company in every corner of the universe knows that. Japan is just far more obvious about it compared with the USA. Cute young girls will sit in the background on talk shows. Imagine 20 hot young models just sitting in the background on the set of Oprah. Then my mom and I could both watch together. Now that's awesome marketing.
- Japan has a show where they mess with animals in the most hilarious ways. For example, one show messed with one of those professional frisbee-catching dogs. They substituted a frisbee with other similar objects (like giant cookies) and watched the confused expression on the dog's face as he caught (and destroyed) them. The best was when they tossed a disc of raw pizza dough, and the dog's face got encased in it. Now that's entertainment! If they tried that in the USA, PETA would probably be all over their ass.
Now that I think about it, I should be grateful that Japanese TV sucks. Not watching it allows me far more free time to work on more creative and constructive endeavors (like writing this blog article). Nevertheless--dear fellow American--the next time you switch on your TV, say a pledge of allegiance for me. Don't take what you've got for granted, you lucky couch potato mofo.