The Fakery of Reality TV

August 31, 2007 at 6:06 pm Leave a comment

Many people use TV to escape reality, but when they want to escape fiction they reach for a good reality show. From “Survivor” to MTV’s “Real World,” there’s something alluring about seeing candid reactions from people.

Japan has its share of reality TV. A few years ago, there was a program documenting the adventures of two young men who were supposedly duped into going to Hong Kong for no good reason. With only $100 in their pocket and little in the way of survival skills, they were told to hitchhike across the Eurasian continent. Toiling through odd jobs along the way, they managed to reach London in 180 days. The segment aired on a hit variety show called “Dempa Shonen” and was a favorite among Japanese audiences… that is until the hoax was revealed.

It’s called “yarase,” or scenes which are staged, and even though it’s pervasive on Japanese TV most viewers frown upon it. Certainly the fact that these two men were in remote areas of the world was real. They just had some assistance from an airplane here and there. So maybe they had a little more than $100, as well. (^_<)

In another variety show called “London Hearts,” there was a segment where men tested their girlfriend’s loyalty by having a streetwise Casanova hit on her. Cameramen would film incognito as the male suitor followed the girl asking her to dinner … and then asking her home. The boyfriend watched it all from a van parked nearby and if the girlfriend should agree to go home with the stranger the boyfriend would be the first to greet her at the door. It was the kind of show that had you cringing in anticipation of what would happen next. Though again, my sources reveal that this too was a case of “yarase.” Most of it was scripted and despite what aired on TV no hearts were actually broken.

As for the two men who traversed the far reaches of the world, once back in Japan, they released a music album and guest-starred in several TV shows. They even gave themselves a name, “Saruganseki,” literally translated as “monkey rock.” (Don’t ask.) But once their secret came out fans were sorely disappointed. It caused enough of a scandal that the show was soon cancelled and the two men faded away.

So much for 15 minutes of fame.


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Entry filed under: Japanese Entertainment.

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August 2007


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