SexyBeijing, better than real TV!

With the Olympics going on in Beijing, I’m finally seeing some programs about China on the major TV networks. It seems like it takes a big event like the Olympics or major disasters to get traditional TV to actually take even a cursory look at anything outside the US borders. However, a lot of the stuff is rehashed and almost seems like a collection of whatever they had lying around that had the word “China” in the title.

The problem with TV is that it needs to cater to a large audience and hence the lowest common denominator. With the increasing number of stupid reality/game shows and absolutely no in-depth coverage of any issues that actually require thinking (for example, telcom immunity), the intellectual level of TV seems to be getting lower and lower.

Fortunately, with buzzwords like Web 2.0 and the Long Tail, decentralized media can cater to people even like me who are interested in getting a candid look at China and maybe even a little listening practice from Chinese speakers. With subtitles, that means you might have to actually read something. OMG! Real Americans don’t want to read!

For comparison, watch SexyBeijing.TV’s video about McDonald’s in China versus CNBC. The first difference you’ll notice is that I couldn’t embed the CNBC’s version so you’ll just have to go to their site.


CNBC’s Big Mac in China

The CNBC’s version is only about a minute long but I watched a longer program on TV (I don’t remember which channel it was) about China and McDonald’s and it was pretty much the same kind of deal so I think this is a reasonably good comparison.

While traditional media has much more influence and can talk to, for example, the CEO of McDonald’s in China, they seem to avoid talking to anybody who can’t speak English. I don’t recall having to read a single subtitle in the program. Even if they did interview a local, you’ll get the customary and absolutely horrible dubbing they do for any foreign language speakers.

In contrast, SexyBeijing’s version has some very funny dialogue with real people such as asking a fat kid whether he thinks eating at McDonald’s makes people fat. The one guy who is stuffing his face and goes to McDonald’s everyday is absolutely hilarious. Since his mouth was constantly full of food I had trouble making out what he was saying but the translation is a riot!

Thanks K and safarinew for helping me figure out what he said. Native ears sure are awesome!

你最喜欢吃的是什么? – What’s your favorite thing to order?
汉堡啊。大个巨无霸跟我体型差不多。 – I like the Big Mac. It’s big, like me.

Personally, the SexyBeijing’s version seems more entertaining, informative, and real rather than some American dude narrating a digested version of the story on a background of related images from China. The CNBC’s version might be more informative with statistics of this and that but I don’t really care how many billions or dollars McDonald’s rakes in every year in China or how many hundreds of stores they recently opened.

The traditional media will be around for a while but I’m glad that the internet has allowed new and decentralized channels for content distribution. Let’s just hope they don’t take control (Net neutrality) or shut it down (Usenet) with scary tales of pirated movies and child porn lurking everywhere.

Check out SexyBeijing.TV for more interesting videos! Let’s hope Youtube starts rolling out the higher quality versions. Here’s the Youtube page.

6 thoughts on “SexyBeijing, better than real TV!

  1. 跟我体型差不多 haha .. about his size…
    i’ve also noticed this SexyBeijing , not bad~

    and about the media thing, Chinese media are doomed! They are too concerned about maintaining domestic stability or forced to be. Doomed!!! Orz…

  2. Thanks safarinew! Wow, were you able to catch what he says at the beginning?

    I don’t know much about media in China but the US media here is pretty awful. It rare to see even a glimpse of anything going on outside of the US. It’s also really sad that the only good news program is on Comedy Central.

    Hmm… I’m not sure why CNBC’s video doesn’t play. I assume you have flash installed since you can watch Youtube. Are you using anything other than Windows? Maybe a codec issue? Try K-Lite Codec Pack Standard.

  3. The boy was saying:


    汉堡 or 汉堡包 means “burger”.

    Interesting that he should point that out since that’s the main thing that Mac’s known to sell.

    From what you say, it is indeed sad that US traditional channels rarely show anything high quality about other countries — probably that’s why some US politicians think that the Chinese (or at least the majority of them) still live in caves.

    But I presume Nat Geog and other cable channels do have better quality shows?

    Anyhow, CNBC is a business channel after all, so it has to supplement its reports with stats and business-related stuff. It’s good that they at least recognize China as being huge economically, and that their viewers would expect any self-respecting business channel to have good coverage of it, for the sake of balanced reporting. Just have a look at CNN and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

  4. Oh.. just in case you were wondering:

    汉堡 means Hamburg (the German city), while 包 means “bun”. 🙂

    I’m telling you, this is definitely a more accurate and elegant translation than ハンバーガー or 햄버거 any time!

  5. I must admit, I don’t watch all the 50+ channels on cable but that’s just the general impression I get by channel surfing. Also, I don’t think I get the national geographic channel. 🙁

    As for Hamburger, I suppose it depends on whether you define accurate as being close to the sound or the meaning.

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