Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Reality TV and Politicians....

Two things struck me as I flipped through the DS-TV (cable for my non-African readers) last night:
  1. how many reality TV shows seem to be in existence - there seemed to be one for every celebrity, and for every reason under the earth!
  2. Just how much 'African-ised' spin offs of these reality shows there also seemed to be, with the latest being ' Let's Dance Nigeria'.
The third thing that struck me as well was how little entertainment value I was getting for the money I pay each month. One is hard pressed to find anything remotely related to viewing pleasure and even less so for educational/intellectual enrichment. Of course there are a couple of exceptions to the rule, but yes most part most seem to follow the rule of empty entertainment, unbelievable plots, antics of animals, or combinations of all the above with a few twists thrown in for surprise. Anyway, I digress, back to the idea of having some reality shows and linking them with our politicians.

There are a couple I think we could readily adapt:

Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader? This one would be specifically reserved for ex-Ministers of Education. After all one could argue that because of the inconsistencies and lack of vision, many 5th graders in developing countries run the risk of graduating from primary schools as illiterates. Each ex-Minister of Education would be given questions from their own country syllabi, and aided by a team of 5th graders that are typical products of their systems, they would seek to answer questions from the core curriculum. Hmm, wonder how many would pass with flying colours?

Deal or No Deal: the NBC's website lists it as "an exhilarating hit game show where contestants play and deal for a top prize of $1 million in a high-energy contest of nerves, instincts and raw intuition". The same could apply for us - prime candidates would be the ex-Ministers of Trade, or ex-Ministers of Finance.

Similar to the odds and chances played with many a national economy, the game unfolds when an ex-Minister is confronted with 26 sealed briefcases full of varying amounts of cash – ranging from a measly cent/peswa/what ever currency to $1 million. Without knowing the amount in each briefcase, the ex-Minister picks one – his to keep, if he chooses – until its unsealing at game's end. The risk element kicks in when the ex-Minister must then instinctively eliminate the remaining 25 cases – which are opened and the amount of cash inside revealed. The pressure mounts as in each round, after a pre-determined number of cases are opened, the ex-Minister would be tempted tempted by a mysterious entity known only as "the Banker" - no, not to be confused with the World Bank(er) - to accept an offer of cash in exchange for what might be contained in the contestant's chosen briefcase – prompting the host to ask the all-important question – Deal or No Deal? We could also opt for a far more interesting one of 'Bribe or No Bribe'? but that would have to be done through CCTV security cameras as opposed to public or cable TV.

The Weakest Link
: Our version will feature a team of nine ex-presidents who take turns answering questions. The object of each round would be the same as the original - answer a chain of consecutive correct answers to earn an increasing amount for a single communal pot within a certain time limit. The same rules of banking would also apply, and so would voting and elimination. The winning ex-president would get the money to donate to a charity of their own. Family members and relatives do not qualify as charities!

And my all time favorite:

Moment of Truth : Open to all ex-Presidents and ex-Ministers THE MOMENT OF TRUTH will put our political contestants to the test -- the lie detector test -- to reveal whether or not they are telling the truth for a chance to win half a million dollars. The challenge would be simple -- answer 21 increasingly personal and professional questions honestly, as determined by a polygraph, and win up to $500,000. Theirs to keep and help support their retirement plans.

To win $500,000 these politicians have to tell the truth. Of course, the questions are easier when the stakes are low but as the prize amount increases, they will be challenged to confess to matters they might normally lie about.
The questions would be drawn from the general public, with the advertisements for the show encouraging persons to send in the questions they always wanted their leaders to answer.

Several others could be explored :
- The Mugabes - a spin off from the Osbourns where we get a daily peak into the life of this Head of State. Note: substitute 'Mugabe' for any leader you wish of course, plot and premise remains the same;
- Made - a spin of from the MTV series with a slight twist. This would look at the sudden switch of our political leaders when they assume power and assume that finally, they have it 'made';
- The Bachelor - reserved specifically for Swaziland as the Prince does get to chose a new bride ever year, though I am not sure if technically he qualifies as a bachelor;
- The Apprentice - reserved for Members of Parliament who aspire to become Ministers; and finally
- Cribs - which takes viewers on a tour of the politicians house before and after they have served their term(s) in office. We may have a slight problem in some cases as there are often times several houses involved.

Now off to find our version of Simon Cowell to give me the funds to produce these series.

Reality check - back to real life and limited TV choices.

Programme Descriptions from the following sources:
  • Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?
  • The Apprentice:
  • Deal or No Deal:
  • The Weakest
  • Moment of
  • Wikipedia - for various briefs


Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

Aww. Denise, brilliant and piquant satire. About 'The Weakest Link' our ex-Presidents do not survive that long. I don't think any country in Africa even has 4 or 5.

Denise said...

Hmm, good point about the ex-Presidents Nana though I think the problem is that they survive for too long! Once they are in they seem to refuse to get out.

Kajsa Hallberg Adu said...

Haha, great piece! Also I can't believe how alike we think. First bday party on the same beach the same day and now I discover this ex-presidents and reality shows...(I hope you saw my piece of the similarities of Kufuor and Hugh Hefner).
I sadly agree with you on the poor offerings, really no value for money from the (expensive) satellite TV providers.

Denise said...

What can I say Kajsa except great minds :-D
The plan was to stop by you on my way back to Accra but by then I was concerned about having twelve teenagers out after dark!
Will go back and read the piece on Kufour and Hefner for sure.