With all the turmoil in our lives lately, my family has found joy in two diversions recently. The Joe Cocker translation video, and ABC’s new hyper-silly reality show I Survived a Japanese Game Show.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s got to be stupid, right? Certainly the premise is cruel – certainly the show is all about making fun of someone from a different culture?
As someone who has been in more multicultural situations than he ever thought he’d see (and not through some contrived Celebration of Cultures one-time event), I can tell you that this show strikes just the right tone.
It’s silly. It’s downright bizarre. It makes fun of all of us.
The show is filled with a kind of joy, a celebration. There’s the whole “show within a show” aspect (during the Japanese broadcast parts, the quality of the HD actually changes – this is by design). The Japanese audience most definitely is laughing at the loud but clueless Americans. We, the American audience, are supposed to be laughing at the very strange entertainment culture of many Japanese.
I have a confession to make: I LOVE Japanese game shows. Ever since the first time I saw MXC (or Most Extreme Elimination Challenge) on Spike, I have been hooked. Of course, the funniest part of the show was the American English overdubbing, but there was still something loveable about the crazy underlying Japanese show Takeshi’s Castle.
By the way, the lead-in to Japanese Game Show is Wipeout, and Americanised version of these type of shows. It’s a little crueler than the originals, and not done in the same spirit of fun, but we still watch anyway – it’s like a train wreck.
But Japanese Game Show is just so much fun – both because we get to see an (almost) real Japanese game show, Majide (which means “Seriously?”), but we also get to see the reactions of the hapless Americans, who were not told what they would be doing when they signed up for an un-described reality show (why would anyone do that?)
An example of one of the contests on Majide: Big Bug Splat On A Wind Shield – Contestants in bug suits carrying a goo-filled balloon on a chest-mounted pouch had to jump on a trampoline and accurately place markers on three separate targets on a target area decorated to look like a car windshield.
The audience is screaming and banging drums, and the host is as hammy as David Lee Roth.
The only part of the show I don’t like is the typical reality show cliches: everyone lives in the same house (with a tough mama-san, no less). Characters give “confessionals” throughout the show (yuck), and a camera follows the contestants backstage. There seems to be contrived conflict, and that’s many times no fun to watch at all.
All in all, though, it’s good, silly, intra-cultural fun. My kids absolutely love it.
As far as the uptight folks who are afraid to laugh at our world’s cultural differences (in a non-condescending way, of course), well, they tend to run in pretty homogenous circles themselves, so I pay them no nevermind. Life is too short to walk around offended, especially for other people (who may not even be offended themselves)
Check the show out next week, or watch it online at ABC’s site: it’ll be more fun than you think!