What I learned from TV

My TV situation is kind of weird. First of all, there are two different cable boxes. Secondly, it works–sort of. It doesn’t exactly *not* work. I mean, technically I have 100 channels. It’s just that all of them except about 15 look like this:

And while I’m all for mind-expansion, I’ve heard that too many shrooms does not a happy TV make. So which are the lucky 15, you must be wondering? Well, I get: 2 Jamaican channels, Discovery and National Geographic, 4 different televangelist channels, an Australian kids channel, and: Discovery Kids, Disney, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon. In summary, that’s Jamaican news, conspiracies and animals, Jesus, and disturbing crazy (sometime Aussie) kids. One day when I recover, maybe I’ll do an analysis of just how fucked up society is going to be in 20 years when these kids and the values they have been taught by these shows grow up. Also on Cesar Milan, and how he’s the coolest person ever.

We recently got the radio working, which is great though no less bizarre. We are currently listening to a reggae radio station explain Jewish weddings. (Edit: 10 minutes later, a house/trance remix of that Savage Garden song with female vocals!!)

The other day, my partner-in-crime Larisa and I were watching the Top 10 Reggae Music Videos, and we learned some very interesting things about Jamaica culture.

* Jamaicans like themselves. They are into being ital (natural), healthy, loving their bodies and what they do (for the most part), being proud, and generally just *accepting* of themselves. As a result, people of different body types are on TV, and women with a bit more to love are actually often preferred here. In fact, Larisa and I took one look at these girls (Brick and Lace) and immediately pegged them as American–they were just so SKINNY! I’ve been informed that the younger generation is quite comfortable as a whole with their bodies, and there has been an increase in the popularity of nudist resorts in the last decade. Although, of course, nudist resorts here are much more comfortable about sex than their counterparts in the States…
* It is currently election-time, which means that every other commercial is either very orange or very green. Interestingly enough, though, both parties’ commercials feature the same soundbite–that of Portia Simpson-Miller, the incumbent prime minister, saying “We’re NOT chyangin no course” a couple of times. The PNP (her party) commercials use this in true fundamentalist revival style to rile up its supporters, and the JLP (not her party) uses it to just present the “wrong” side. The end result of this is that any joke or witticism you can come up with involving the phrase is sure to be a hit with people everywhere.
* Jamaicans like Asian people. Jamaicans are actually fairly non-racist people these days. Yes, they do refer to all Asian-looking people as Chiney or “Japanese Chinese”, but in this case the language does not reflect the actual attitude of the society. Asians are much more integrated into the culture here than they are in America, and while there is apparently some ignorance about how the whole nationality thing works, Jamaicans are totally chill with Asians. In fact, here unlike in the States, there are popular Asian artists, both male (Black Chiney sound system), and female (Tammi Chynn and her sister who didn’t have an identity crisis, Tessanne Chin). Additionally, many Jamaican producers and record label execs are Asian, and Japanese dancers have been winning the Dancehall Queen competition for several years running. Also, every third restaurant in the Jamaican Yellow Pages is a Chinese restaurant–nice.
* Speaking of Tessanne Chin, she talked about MySpace during her interview and said that it was the best way to reach her. In fact, most Jamaican promotion companies/artists/celebrities have MySpace accounts. Whaaa?!

While we’re on the topic of music:

* There are 5 quintessential American songs that are played at EVERY club, EVERY party, EVER this summer. They are: Rihanna – Umbrella, T-Pain – Buy you a Drank, Mims – This is Why I’m Hot, Lil Mama – Lip Gloss, Akon – Don’t Matter. The Akon makes perfect sense, because the song rips off Bob Marley AND R. Kelly, who are both quite popular here. The popularity of the Mims and the T-Pain is justified through very popular remixes of the two with Jamaican vocals–much better, I might add, than the original (Hard as that might be to imagine). DJ /rupture has an excellent dissection of Mims here, and my only explanation for how “Buy You a Drank” happened is that T-pain is probably a poorly-programmed robot prototype manufactured by the entertainment industry to one day replace artists and their “feelings” and “rights”.
* DJs have two strange habits here. The first is to restart a song in the middle of it to show “respeck” for the song or, hopefully, get the crowd more riled up. The second is to cut the music out entirely while talking over the track, which is particularly annoying when the DJ’s utterances are very short and frequent. Apparently people here are less into continuity than I am. It’s also a frequent occurrence at stageshows to not let an artist finish a whole song before they are rushed into the next one, something else that is very weird to me.

I promise my next post will be less random and more focused…maybe.

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