Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Japan is weird part 760,825

My the chickens are coming home to roast: After years of me making fun of the Japanese for their weirdness, the very essence of what makes them so mockable -- their wacky and humiliating TV game shows -- are coming to the United States.

Now it is Americans who will be forced to negotiate obstacles courses dressed as bugs, attempt to eat marshmallows dangled from fishing lines as their face is forcibly restrained by bungee chords, and subject themselves to a "ball slapping machine" -- which does exactly what it sounds like it would do

Of course there will also be farting -- sometimes competitively -- and a fair share of indeterminate goo. If the Americanized versions can also replicate the samurai-like war cries of the host, and the spastic high-pitched squeals of the studio audience I will be very impressed indeed.

Two Japanese-style game shows are premiering on ABC tonight, and a third is scheduled for this fall.

Stuart Krasnow, a producer of one the new shows, believes the motivations are different for American and Japanese contestants.

Americans, Krasnow says, "are in it for the cash and prizes" while for the Japanese it's "true escapism."

In others words Americans will let you pummel their balls with a springy mechanical arm as long as you pay them enough, but the Japanese do it just because it feels right.

A-ha, I knew it! Japan is still weird.

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