Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Wonders of RTS

I was told that I need to blog more so here goes. I watch some TV here most nights, as long as I’m at home and there is power. There is one main TV channel here - RTS1, there is also TV5, a French channel but I think you may need a special antenna to get it and it is very fuzzy at my house so I don’t watch it. The wealthy people get satellite dishes that give them access to a bunch more, mostly French channels. RTS1 has the news in French, Wolof, Pulaar, Sereer and maybe a couple other local languages during the day. The highlight for many volunteers is Muneca Brava, an Argentinean soap opera that has been dubbed in French and edited to take out the kissing scenes but not the incredibly skimpy outfits that some women wear. Like any soap opera it is completely ridiculous but it is sometimes entertaining and it’s really entertaining to witness my Senegalese family’s reactions to the on-screen antics. During the day there is a nature documentary, followed by a rerun of last night’s Muneca Brava. There are Wolof game shows with sets that look like public access hand-me-downs and there is also a Muslim game show where they have to answer questions about the Koran. For some reason this reminds me of the SNL sketch of the Japanese game show where people get fingers cut off for an incorrect response - I don’t really know why, I’ve never seen any loss of digits. On weekends there are cartoons in the mornings - Scooby Doo and Looney Tunes dubbed in French - all of which are called "Mickey" here. Weekend evenings used to be "Married With Children" most of us didn’t really appreciate that this was the image of Americans that was being shown over seas, now it’s a show with Damon Wayans, I’m not sure if the African American element is appreciated here or not. After the news is "Passions" the horrible American soap opera - it seems to be my brother Guelaye’s (the pious one) favorite, and "24" the American show which I still haven’t gotten into but I have heard is good, here its "24(vingt quatre) Heures Chrono." "The Young and the Restless" is also somewhere in the lineup but I’m not exactly sure where, it also has a different name.
It may not seem like in from my description above but news really does seem to dominate RTS. And the thing with the news here is that it is partly owned and run by the government, this makes for wonderful 10 minute long stories that show various ministers, all in their grand booboos, walking into the presidential palace. Also when Abdoulaye Wade(the president, always referred to on the news as "Son excellence, maitre Abdoulaye Wade) is out promoting himself at least half the news is devoted to him sticking out the top of his SUV shaking hands with the rowdy crowd that is only there to try to be on TV. I have a theory that this means that the bad stuff Wade does, like putting a canal through a national park to reduce floodwaters, which has now eroded away much of the park and several villages, isn’t reported. I have also heard that if you want to get something that’s not government related on the news, you must pay for it. I had to hear on the BBC that there was a conflict in the Casamance region of Senegal between rebels and troops from Guinea Bissau. In my opinion, RTS does a very poor job of informing the Senegalese people about things they should know. There is one thing that it does an ok job of and that is international news. For example, there was recently a bombing in a resort town in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, they didn’t show gratuitous blood and guts but they didn’t edit out the visual evidence that people had been injured and died there.
This is where I start comparing to news in the US. The US news is careful not to show us blood on the street after a suicide bomber attack, so people may have a glossed over idea about what the situation is really like in Iraq for example. THANK GOD the US news is not run by the government but they lead with stories of kidnapped spring breakers and missing, young, pregnant wives that some how keep the attention of the entire nations for months. They also do their best to create a fear that will keep us glued to the screen, "Something you have in your kitchen could kill you and your family and your pets, find out details at eleven." Does this sound familiar? Hmm, what is it this time, the butcher knives, the detergent, the bleach, something in the food is going to give me cancer????
I still haven’t figured out which news is worse, not sure I ever will, but I do know one thing, I am very glad that my short wave radio picks up BBC News and that I can also listen to NPR occasionally on the world space radio at the regional house.
How was that for a blog AJ?

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