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Friday, September 03, 2010

Freedom: Get Real.

Category: Issue 20

I have been watching a lot of TV lately.  A lot of westerners who find themselves (were they lost before?) living in Cambodia find themselves (aha!) watching more TV than they used to.  I watch a lot of reality TV shows, a lot from the States and Australia… but I have even just gotten to watch Canada’s Next Top Model for the last couple of weeks.  I’m from Canadia (as a lot of people say, here) and there was Canada, on TV, like.  Victoria, B.C.  Nice.  Today was the biggie:  The skinny girl from Ontario won. 

It’s always a bit of an anti-climax when somebody wins one of these things, and then you (or I, anyway… I don’t read fashion magazines) never see them again.  Blah.  What am I doing with my life?  But I’m waiting for the America’s Next Top Model on Saturday, and then there’s always America’s Got Talent; I want to see if the ventriloquist beats the singing large sized ladies and the acrobats…  Not that I’m ever going to Las Vegas to see the winner(s) perform in person. 

Go ahead and laugh.  Go ahead and sneer.  Lots of people do.  Still, I’d rather watch Western Reality TV in Cambodia than most fiction anywhere.  There’s probably something wrong with me but that’s where I’m at.

If it’s fiction, it had better be good.  If it’s not good, I get annoyed and start thinking, “What the hell, I could write better fiction than this!”  I’ve watched and read enough bad fiction to be totally committed to this opinion.  Who wants to waste two hours of your life watching a horror movie in which everybody dies at the end, for no apparent reason other than that they smoked and/or had premarital sex, when you could have wasted two hours of your life watching something REAL, like Jerry Springer?  AHEM. If it’s Reality (even somewhat rarified), I figure, hmm, well, I took a couple of psychology courses in college so this is interesting.  Any excuse.  I don’t care.  It IS interesting.  Jerry Springer and Simon Cowell and the whole staff of American Idol  (sorry if I spelled your name wrong, Simon, you know we love you) know this.  I’m in. 

Anyway, this isn’t exactly what I wanted to write about, but it is, sort of.  When I’m not watching reality human shows, I’m watching reality animal shows.  This indicates that I am a worthy human being who really cares about the environment and suchlike.  Hmmm.

Well, it might be true.  I worry sometimes that I am just a primate with a typically primate intelligence and curiosity, and can’t stop looking at bright, shiny and/or moving, vaguely threatening objects on TV.  In fact (having actually really taken a couple courses in college) I KNOW that there is some kind of issue with this.  But it won’t pay to get too self-conscious.  I have to be scientific about this, yet, um, laid back.
 
The thing is that compared to the human reality shows, I watch an inordinate amount of animal reality shows.  I have watched more animals kill other animals in the last year, since I came to Cambodia (where the cable is better, and cheaper than in Canada) than at any other time in my life, probably.  I have watched so many wild African dogs kill antelope and suchlike that I am an expert on how wild African dogs kill antelope and suchlike.  Of course, everyone knows that lions and hyenas hate each other, but did you see the one where the lions and hyenas were so hungry that they didn’t argue at all, and just ate the whole zebra together?  Did you see the one with the guy who has been bitten by a shark three times and still insists on surfing?

One of my favorites, which I have to juggle with my (insert country)‘s Top Model shows, is the one on Animal Planet where the SPCA rescues all the abused animals.  Today there were 32 cocker spaniels locked up in cages, and one of them was so badly matted that there were maggots crawling around on her because her flesh was rotting under the mats.  Then it switched to some starving horses, one of whom had just died.  Fortunately, there was a commercial, so I could switch back over to see how Canada’s Next Top Model was doing.  Then, alas, I had to go to my afternoon’s work.  But I’m thinking, they wouldn’t have shown us all those dogs unless there was going to be an inspiring, happy ending, somewhere along the line. 

I do watch CNN for ahem Real News.  I do.  I watch it in the morning before work.  I watch it, I watch it!  Leave me alone.

OK so here is what I was going to write about.  I live in an apartment which is pretty nice inside but doesn’t have much of a view.  Inside the apartment I keep two horrible cats, which I “rescued” from the streets of Cambodia.  (In reality, they are bored out of their minds in here, and are trying to kill me by eating my clothes and trying to dislodge the cable on my cable TV.  They are always trying to escape, so that I have to slam their heads in the door when I come home.)

Today, right in the middle of one of my Shows, there came a horrible keening whining cat mewling sound from through my window, across the way from my apartment.  These cat noises were unearthly and it was the middle of the day.  There seemed to be two cats making this noise.  It sounded awful, and not like they were having fun.  Not like cats in heat, even.  Just awful.  I went to the window and looked across at the window of the other building from which (whence?) the noise seemed to be coming, but I couldn’t see anything.  My two bored cats jumped up on the kitchen counter beside me and listened, too.  They looked puzzled and worried.

Then I heard a loud voice yelling in Khmer, and then a loud thump.  Followed by absolute silence.  My cats and I looked at each other.  We stood or sat (respectively) there for awhile, listening for any more signs of cat noises or other action from across the way… but all was silent.

Are they boiling cats over there?  Did the cats just make too much noise for some other reason and the Khmer guy clubbed them with something?  Did someone pick them up and cuddle them to make them feel better?

To my cats, I said, “Well, I dunno.  At least we’re safe in here.”  Reluctantly, we all went back to what we were doing… I to Canada’s Next Top Model and they to eating my clothes.

The theme of most of the animal reality shows that I watch is that animals should be allowed to be Free.  They keep trying to return animals to their natural habitats.  I mentioned to my cats today that if I were to return them to their natural habitat (the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia) they would as likely as not be toast.  My cats were not impressed .  They tried to get out as I was coming in this evening, and I was forced, yet again,  to slam their heads in the door for their own good. 

They don’t look that unhappy now.  Freedom.  Well.  Get real.  Gotta go.  My show is on. 

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