Is that TV show featuring a panel of clever foreigners who have mastered mandarin, still on? [I don’t live in Taiwan anymore, so I’m not sure] These linguistic geniuses are supposedly from a variety of countries, and the focus of the show is how they deal with life in Taiwan. I believe that even that ridiculous “Chocolate” guy has been a panel member. [I better not get started on him, and how he makes a living out of playing up to every absurd racial stereotype Taiwanese have about people of African descent]
My ex-girlfriend and I had some heated arguments about this show and another that featured interviews with foreigners about their lives in Taiwan. The cause of contention was that she just couldn’t understand why I would be offended by the way that the shows portrayed “wai-gwo pung-yo”. The sex predator theme is VERY popular, and is revisited again, and again. Often these foreign guests are only to happy to relate the stories of sexual adventures, that the hosts are keen to draw out of them.
One African guy (from Ghana?), on the panel show seems to love to brag about his exploits, the size of his equipment, and the fascination that women have for him, as the hosts giggle, and make snide assides in Taiwanese.
From the fact that my “ex” used to faithfully watch these shows with her entire family, and that they all found it extrememly amusing - I could only conclude that foreigners and their misadventures are high entertainmant television in Taiwan. It’s almost as if focusing on foreigners “openess” helps people come to terms with the huge changes in their own attitudes towards sexuallity.
My “ex” insisted that the shows weren’t that serious, and that everything was “innocent, good-natured fun”. “Bu-yao shan tai dwo”, she would say. When pressed about it, she did concede that the result of shows like these, and all the press reports, year after year, leave people with a very dim view of the kind of foreigner who comes to Taiwan. When we discussed this thouroughly, she did recognize that her perceptions have been molded by the way the media portrays foreigners. In addition, much of her attitude had been shaped by “wo-de pung-yo de pong-yo, bei wai-gwo ren chifu gwo-le” kind of anecdotes. Like most people in Taiwan, she had never had any significant interaction with a foreigner, before our relationship - her attitudes had no founding in actual experience. She had to be reminded that for every story about a girl who has been heartbroken by a failed relationship with a foreign bloke, she has heard countless tales of local woes. [Just the other day she emailed me the news of a friend of hers who was 2 weeks away from her wedding day with a guy 15 years older than her, when she discoverd that he was already married and the father of three children. Talk about “bei chi-fu”… Why doesn’t the fact that this kind of story is commonplace in Taiwanese society help curb peoples propensity to view foreigners as singularly degenerate?]
In this regard, Taiwan remains a frustrating place for foreigners to live. Xenophobia is a natural consequence of the homogenous, unintegrated Taiwanese society. People seem both somewhat fascinated, and repulsed by foreigners. The ugly side of some individuals behavior will continue to be featured in the Media, because it sells.
As for those two guys “caught” on “secret camera”, whose story started this thread, they are a good example of how some foreigners, for reasons I can’t fathom, are happy to play to and feed peoples lurid curiosity, and reafirm their private prejiduces.