Living in a foreign country like Thailand offers a different perspective on life – including through TV.
Our cable system here offers 60 channels, about half are in English. The majority of the remaining channels are in Thai with a sprinkling of Italian (RAI), German (DW-TV), French (TV5Monde), Chinese (CCTV), (Zee) & Pakistani (ONE).
We get American Idol, Boston Legal, Desperate Housewives, Ellen, House, The Simpsons and yes, even Jerry Springer from the USA. We also get series from Australia (All Saints), England (The Bill) and South Africa (Snitch).
What is most fascinating to watch is the news …..
American News programs that follow the old adage, “If it bleeds, it leads..” have a LOT to learn from local Thai TV. Every newscasts contains graphic footage of gruesome auto accidents, crime victims pointing accusingly at their perpetrators being held at the local police station and dead bodies … lots of dead bodies.
Earlier this week there was a story of a tourist found dead in a hotel room apparently from an overdose. He had apparently been lying there for quite some time on the floor wedged between the bed and the wall… in an advanced state of decomposition.
In the USA, you might see the body tastefully covered by a sheet. Here, the naked body‘s distended abdomen is being poked at with a stick ( a very dangerous practice, I can assure you!) by an investigator. To their credit, they slightly pixilated the corpse’s “naughty bits”.
And then they went immediately to a commercial for a local restaurant!
When it comes to International News, we are pretty lucky. We get Channelnews Asia, BBC World, Bloomberg News, CNN Headline News, Fox News and… Aljazeera!
Since most Americans have never seen Aljazeera, let me say that it’s NOT as bad as you might think. Even Sir David Frost (BBC) has a interview weekly show on the network and many former CNN Reporters & Anchors (Riz Khan, Lucia Newman, Veronica Pedrosa etc.) now work for the channel.
While definitely not “Pro-American”, at least the “English Language Version” of the network isn’t referring to us as the “Great Satan”. And to their credit, I’ve not seen one story about Don Imus, Paris Hilton or Anna Nicole Smith!
The beauty of having ALL these resources is that you get to see a lot of different perspectives – Right, Left and everything in between.