Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Token Foreigner On TV
|Had a TV camera in my classroom yesterday, which caused rather a lot of excitement and screaming amongst my teenage students. We were filmed for an ICPNA commercial (of course the shot of the token blond and blue-eyed gringa is indispensable!)... so I might be seeing myself on Peruvian TV in the near future (yikes). For some reason, English teaching seems to be particularly rich in random telly opportunities. In Japan I was twice (to my knowledge) on the box, once holding Domo-kun (NHK's kawaii mascot) and saying, somewhat idiotically, "Hello, Japanese children!", and another time I was made to read a passage to advertise Tochigi city's International Festival. People with video cameras always seems to think I'll be more than thrilled to have the chance to be on TV, but actually I could quite easily live without the disruption. It's bizarre the kind of arrogance that TV crews do develop, as they are, I suppose, used to people going ballistic just to be filmed. A weird memory has just now come back to me, regarding this very point. I was once in an Indian restaurant in Sapporo with a large number of foreigners (we were all studying Japanese at the same summer school). Suddenly, a woman sat down at our table and started talking to us in that incredibly pompous and patronising way some people who learn English as a foreign language inexplicably seem to develop. A massive television camera appeared out of nowhere and bright spotlights were focused on our table. The crew started filming, and the woman began asking us questions... obviously a group of gaijin this big was an opportunity to good to be missed... and so we were being interviewed without having been asked permission, or even informed. We were all really annoyed, and felt like animals in a zoo. Accordingly, we all put on our worse behaviour. We spoke only in slangy gangster-type Japanese, developed horrible table manners, refused to look at the camera, and some of the blokes started a food fight. I have no idea what became of that footage... perish the thought!
Not that I wouldn't have done the same ;)