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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

When I was new to Hong Kong - jobless, lazy and wilting away in a shoebox-sized serviced apartment that's so typical to this city - I became a TV addict for the first time. I watched anything that moved: ranging from Hitler on History channel to Chinese horror film monsters on cable to even the live camera relay from the building's entrance. And I didn't sleep through anything.

The vegetative state lasted for two months, maybe more. I became quite a potato all over except for my remote-tapping hand. But the bigger feature I am stuck with is the attraction of reality shows. Barring 'Growing up Gotti', it all works for me. I've even grown to like Simon (s)cowl. really. And I think Rockstar INXS is un-missable.

Of course, I'm hardly alone in succumbing to this genre. Zee TV (the only Hindi channel I get in my building) has polished its Saregamapa singing competition to reflect more competitivness and more rudeness (by pitching 'guru' music directors against each other, half of them coming across as fairly abrasive and one of whom is further ruder).

Of course, can't help but compare the American shows to their Indian counterparts. And the first thing that comes to my mind is not the participant quality, nor production values - it's the culture!

While the American shows treat their contendors as adults - lambasting them or praising them as potential singers, the Indian judges treat them, and even address them, as if they were kids. Imagine Paula Abdul telling Bo Bice "you are like our son" or Simon tell Carrie Underwood "I am criticizing you, but take it in the spirit of our teaching heritage... we are just teachers trying to make you children better"! Nope I am not making these dialogues up - these are straight translations from the show.

The difference just amuses me: why do Indians have children, and Americans sons and daughters? What do you think?

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