Monday, January 17, 2011

4 AM Japanese Game Show

It was late, very late, and Ted still couldn't sleep; jet lag from the flight left him with little to do but lean against his headboard and flick through the upper channels of his hotel room's TV. Japanese television broadcasted some weird shit, especially in the early AM hours, and at least that gave him something to do while he waited for the city to come back alive for the morning.

The game show had been interesting enough, full of enough abject humiliation and public nudity that it seemed rather ridiculous for anyone to accept a spot on it for the paltry prizes given to those who successfully completed a challenge. Some of the contestants even broke down in tears when it was revealed what they had to do on what was presumably nationally-broadcast television. It became obvious that the only "winners" were the audience, and admittedly Ted was happy to be a part of it. There was a pure voyeuristic thrill in watching some idiot desperate for free stuff part with all dignity for a cheap toaster. What came on after the clock rolled into 4am and the credits finally ran, however, was even more disconcertingly addictive; apparently, the Japanese had seen "The Blair Witch Project" and decided they could go one better.

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There were no subtitles - not for something this far into the broadcast downtimes - but the premise was easy enough to figure out. Grainy shots from "hidden cameras" placed in various locations captured voyeur shots of people in every day situations... as they were shown being silently stalked by men dressed in a variety of hilarious costumes. Some anime-twisted version of Mickey Mouse haunted an elderly woman's visit to an almost deserted supermarket, a weird bug-thing in a thong snuck through the empty halls of some fancy resort, and a Village People reject crept up on some sad drunk stumbling around a park. It was entertaining enough like that, but became positively captivating once Mickey pulled a knife. Sometimes the chosen victims managed to escape - the old lady spotted her pursuer around an aisle and managed to flee to her car, speeding off into the distance with the oversize mascot still struggling to make it through the small door of the marketplace. The drunk wasn't so lucky, and a distant camera shot showed him being gruesomely set upon by a bad copy of a Cherokee in full headdress wielding a tomahawk. The rough camera angles, cuts of static, and green tint of nightvision made the whole thing seem freakishly real - sick voyeurism at its peak of perfection.

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And then, Murphy being Murphy, the television cut out mid-broadcast. Ted felt around for the remote, contemplating throwing it straight through the damn thing as he stared at his reflection in the now dead glass of the screen. Before that, however, he tried the power button - maybe he'd sat on it again accidentally - and his reflection suddenly changed position. The Ted on the TV immediately became its own mirror image, shifting everything from the lamp on the bedside table to the hand holding the remote. Trying the power button again flipped the image once more, restoring it to its original position and leaving the owner of the reflected image staring at it in complete confusion. It was only then that he noticed the tiny camera set on top of the screen.

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