Saturday, August 07, 2010

The bar scene goes BANANAS!!

I just sat through an episode of Rediscovering China, one of the horrifically amateurish documentary strands that pad out the schedules of CCTV9 - the entirely homegrown 'English language' television network here.

I was suckered in by the familiarity of the opening shots - taken in the hutongs near the neighbourhood where I live. I kept watching, I confess, out of an unwholesome - nay, positively ghoulish - fascination with the host, a portly Canadian who appeared to have dyed his hair with carrot juice, and had about the worst Chinese pronunciation of anyone I've ever met (let alone seen working as a TV presenter). And I stayed with it to the bitter end just to see how much worse it could get.

Overall, some nice traveloguey shots of Beijing, Shanghai, and Yangshuo just about compensated for the even-more-laboured-than-usual commentary.

The theme for today's humdinger of a show was...... yes, the flowering of the nightlife scene in China over the last few years. Naturally, this being the 'official position' on the topic, we got Lotus Lane rather than Nanluoguxiang, and a Tibetan theme restaurant rather than Maggie's or Chocolate or China Doll. More expensive tourist traps in Shanghai - the Cloud 9 bar near the top of the Jingmai Tower, and anodyne hotel lounge jazz rather than proper music clubs. At least in Yangshuo they showed a few bars run by foreigners - although on West Street I imagine the temptation to rip off one-time customers for all you can get must be near overwhelming. Little or nothing of the 'bar scene' that most China residents would recognise.

And this incisive and wide-ranging survey of the transformation of the country's nighttime entertainment options ("a fascinating phenomena", we were told) was titled..... The Bar Bananza.

I kid you not. Nice to see CCTV9 maintaining the standards of English that have made it a reliable cheap laugh for foreigners living here for over a decade now.

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