Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Japanese TV 2: Being slim is the only important thing in life!

Of all the terrible dross on Japanese TV, one of the worst genres has to be the "I succeeded at massive weight loss pretend to have convulsions when you see me" celebrity program.

A typical example is Majotachi no niju niji, "The Witches at 10 o'clock",which takes a collections of Japanese 'celebrities' who talk about 'personal transformation' and 'improving lives',  and then demonstrate such transformation by dragging into the studio sad diseased middle-aged women who have managed to achieve massive weight loss.  These women are then presented and paraded as the epitome of success and achievement.  First the life story of the woman is given, with extensive presentation of 'before' pictures and videos.  Then the curtain begins to raise on the 'now' reality.  Next you see the celebrities responding to the transformed woman, reacting with exaggerated and concocted excitement, that, if genuine, would have to be associated with demonic possession or methamphetamine overdose.  Just when the curtain is rising above the knee level, and presumably the anticipation and excitement of the home-viewing audience is rising to fever pitch - that's when they go to a commercial break!

The horror, the horror.

When you come back - if you haven't died from anticipation in the meantime - you can see the curtain rise to reveal its pitiful show, an overdressed and over made-up middle aged woman, surrounded by glitter and flashing gaudiness.  A woman who, it is claimed, has lost some ridiculous amount of weight ("23 kilos in 13 weeks!") and is now beaming with beauty and happiness.

And that's the show.  For all the talk of transformation and achievement, there is no mention of things that could really help women fulfill their lives- self-acceptance, education, independence.  Instead success is equated with weight loss and 700 dollars worth of makeup and hair gel.  Far from empowering women, such displays of desperate achievement and bulimia merely perpetuate their powerlessness, because, in the final analysis, this obession with superficial beauty panders to men and their shallowest desires.  Which in Japan is the accepted path towards material security- bagging a guy to support you.

Unfortunately shows like this offer false hope, false for two reasons.  Firstly, such transformations are impossible for the vast majority of women.  But most importantly, men aren't looking for such absurd showgirl displays.  Believe it or not, they value other things.

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