Sunday, January 18, 2009

Television is universal

If I thought for a second that in coming around the world I was somehow escaping the financial crises and political yip-yap, I was wrong.

On an English-language television news station, the anchor is discussing the latest Thai "stimulus package," which is predicted to grow the local economy by 2 percent this year. But the prime minister has warned that the public should not become "addicted to populist policies" because it may "spoil" them. Sound familiar?

On another familiar note, the news show highlighted a job fair sponsored by the Labor Party, which has expressed a desire to increase job training and education, and points out that local wages have failed to rise with the cost of living.

On the lighter side, the station's entertainment segment previewed an upcoming "romantic comedy" that promised to bring together "laughter and joy" on the screen. But the only images I saw were of war and explosions, interspersed with scenes of slapstick comedy based on bumbling violence. I was assured that the movie would rise above the latest political and social conflicts that Thailand has been experiencing.

On the local version of ESPN, narrated by British anchors, I caught a replay of an NBA game – Cleveland vs. New Orleans. It was refreshing after two days of Thai and broken English to absorb the monotonous banter of basketball commentary.

Very strange: when I woke up this morning and turned on the television – I am attempting to learn Thai through subtitles – there are commercials for a Mister Donut and Kentucky Fried Chicken. The KFC commercial featured a triangular version of a chicken nugget, which was apparently capable of making a young schoolgirl zip to attention in class – small flames in her eyes, eager once again to pose questions to her teacher.

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