LiBeL Column

The English Language

Columns from The Nation newspaper

Death by TV presenter

As usual I was searching for inspiration on Saturday evening and failing miserably. Then it struck me, it had worked before, could the old UBC channel surfing technique work it’s magic yet again.

At first it appeared not. Ajarn ‘Flock of Seagulls’ on the Distance Learning Channel wasn’t on form and appeared to be going through the motions. An English word was displayed on the screen – ” Read it.” , “What it say?”, “Now you say it” ” Again, please” ” Very good” repeat ad nauseum for 10 minutes or so with different vocabulary.

It was clear that I would have to venture past channels 12-16 in my search for a muse. And, 20 seconds later there it was, in the ‘Teenzone’ on UBC Kids channel. The hip, happening but unfortunately, for reasons that will be come obvious in a moment, non-English speaking presenter was taking the audience on a guide through some of the best sites on the web. Nothing remarkable in that I guess.

As a bit of background, for those reading this on the Internet or who aren’t UBC subscribers, bear in mind that this is the same pay TV provider that devotes a considerable amount of time showing cheaply made anti-drugs commercials between programs. These less interesting alternatives to a blank screen aim to steer the youth of Thailand away from the perils of drug use by using such hard hitting slogans as “Say no to drugs.”, ” Winners don’t do drugs.”, ” Only users lose drugs.”, ” Drugs aren’t polite.” etc. I wish them luck, as I’m sure do the parents of the couple of million ‘ya-baa’ users who for some reason are still popping pills despite UBC’s best efforts.

Therefore it was rather amusing to see the featured Internet site of the week was one that featured photos of lots of farangs with goofy expressions on their faces, and sure enough a few of the photos did cause me to crack a smile. However I got an inkling that something was up when I noticed that a few of the photos featured guys holding, what seemed to be rather large ‘herbal’ cigarettes. Surely not, I thought to myself. The truth was revealed when a screen shot showing the site’s URL was displayed – www.amistonedornot.com. However, either in an attempt at subversion by a crusading video graphics clerk or, more realistically, due to a typo, the actual URL which was flashed up on the screen for eager young viewers to visit was spelt incorrectly.

As an afterthought I took a look at their website, www.ubctv.com, if you look at the bottom of the home page you’ll notice a new game will be coming to the site in July, an “Organ farm quiz” apparently. Here’s an idea, instead of spending the best part of a million baht on sending people into the air in rickety MIG -25’s over Russia, why not spend a fraction of that ensuring that your presenters understand what they’re talking about and your website’s English is indeed English and not the stuff second rate newspaper columns feed off.

Realising that this topic would only sustain me for 517 words or so, it was time to keep flicking through the channels in search of 283 words worth of comment on the war crimes against the English language being perpetrated on other channels. So, a big thanks to MCM for making my life easier.

This music channel does, admittedly, cream MTV and Channel V when it comes to playing good tunes although they can’t make the same claim about their presenters. They could only brag about being good at their job if their job was to provide viewers with a portrayal of a mannequin with a lack of musical knowledge masquerading as a VJ. If the idea of having western educated ‘luk kreung’ presenters is designed to highlight what a waste of money sending your kids to study abroad is then they’re also excelling on that count as well.

To quote VJ Victor, who’s father must own the company because while I’m sure he’s a ‘cool dude, man’, his role in any future TV shows should be in an off camera role – to put it diplomatically :

” So, like wow, Madonna is a pop star. She is, like, very sexy. She is a pop star from America or the UK and like, wow, is cool. She had some songs and stuff, you know. He first song was nearly over 5 years ago, like when I was way young. And this is her new video, from the latest single, wow. Yeah!” Insightful stuff.

Referring back to UBC’s squandering of my hard earned license fee on sending folks to the ‘ Edge of Space’ – apparently you could see the curvature of the earth from the plane high above Russia and the sky is blue but space is black. Revelations I’m sure to the majority of UBC viewers. I, for one, would be happy to chip in if UBC need extra cash to finance a competition to send an MCM rich-kid presenter into space, on a one-way ticket.