WWE Comes to Bhutan

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Bhutan was first introduced to television in 1999. How long will it take for America's Top Model to destroy Bhutan's children? Let's ask the editor of the state-owned propaganda vehicle!

"I hate television," said Chencho Tshering, acting managing director of Kuensel, the state-owned newspaper, reminiscing about a recent night when the cable service went down.

His wife was deprived of her Hindi soap operas and his three daughters missed "Friends" and the Cartoon Network, but the whole family came together and started talking about the past.

"That was the best night I can remember since 1999," he said.

Because in Bhutan, only cable outages can deactivate televisions. The country's "Information and Communication Minister" agrees with Tshering, explaining that television "raises your expectations, probably making you more unhappy." The Bhutanese government was moved to ban a sports channel after a "craze" for American professional wrestling (our finest export!) swept the country. And yet it seems that actual Bhutanese people love their idiot boxes:

The people of Bhutan do not seem to agree. A study carried out by the information ministry in 2003 found that many people felt television had broadened their minds.

More than 66 percent said television had had a positive impact on society, while just 7.3 percent disagreed…

Back in Sobsa, her teeth stained red with chewing betel nut and her feet caked with mud, Om disagrees with the TV bashers.

Every night she escapes to Bollywood films of Salman Khan, to wildlife documentaries or American war movies.

"Without television, life is quite boring here," she said. "It is good to see the outside world. I've seen Japanese farmers cultivating rice, and it's almost the same as we do it here."

Whole fantastic thing here.

NEXT: How Washington Works (c. 2007)

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  1. “I hate television,” said Chencho Tshering, acting managing director of Kuensel, the state-owned newspaper, reminiscing about a recent night when the cable service went down.

    Remarkably, or not so, I have heard exactly the same thing from many people who subscribe to The New York Times, Washington Post, The Nation and The New Republic (okay, that last one was a joke)!

    You know, the folks who hate NASCAR (driving around in circles) but adore the Indy 500 (apparently the lack of fenders disguises the fact they drive around in circles too), hate the Wal*Mart but love [insert other non-union store that buys goods from China].

    In college, Ron Anderson was right every issue from the Left is based on a style preference.

    Maybe Chencho Tshering can do the draft on the new “fairness doctrine” that can’t be too far off in the new Congress?

  2. PBS did a Frontline/World on this
    http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/bhutan/interview.html

    One of the last of the ‘World’ series I watched. My reaction was exactly the same. They had all these blowhards talking about how Bhutan is too simple and serene for television.

    One woman was a native Bhutanian who was also an international jet setter. She was saying something like “Of course I live most the year in New York, London, Paris and Hong Kong. But I like to come home to get away from it all. It would be a terrible shame if life in Bhutan was no longer quaint and charming.”

    Then there was this Buddhist monk who said “I went to my brothers house and the TV was on. It was awful. I stated watching it, and suddenly my mind was full of new and strange ideas. I was completely unable to empty my mind of all thought while I watched.”

    All these idiots were predicting that the Bhutanese were too simple to watch television. Just one entrepreneur decided to invest in a cable station. As soon as the first set was wired, everybody on the street came out to ask “how soon can you get this to my house?”

    The vox populi was “Yes please! Our lives are so dull and boring all we do is pray all day. For the love of all that’s holy, please please please get us something to make it worth living.”

  3. Guy,

    If it makes you fell better, as far as I’m concerned, both NASCAR and Indy are for boobs.

  4. The king of Bhutan is very proud of something he and his advisers call “Gross Domestic Happiness”. He claims that he rules his kingdom to maximize that instead of the more materialistic GDP.

    They even have a think-tank promoting the concept.

    I spent an evening reading their papers. Here’s the kicker, not one of those papers actually defines it objectively. Each paper has a slightly different take on what it is. Clearly, each author has his own idea as to what contributes to GDH and what does not.

    Fair enough. Then we look at the national news. here we find all the problems of central planning. The king controls all education (private schools are required to have their lesson plans approved by one of the king’s ministers). Until recently he owned all the trees. He decides what gets built where.

    Yep, by tightly controlling what people see, hear and do, the king is able to keep the feudal system going. The peasants work for the benefit of the nobility, which makes the nobles very happy indeed. Then they give each other high fives for their enlightened leadership.

  5. So television has made the people of Bhutan come to believe their culture is boring and that watching pro wrestling is a good use of their time?

    Sounds like a real improvement there, Kerry!

  6. The developing world finds the wierdest stuff compelling. In the 90’s our biggest cultural import to the Arab world was Xena: Warrior Princess. I guess nothing translates quite as well as thinly veiled lipstick lesbian sadomasochism!

    Wait, doesn’t one of the Reason writers do Xena fanfic? If Rand is any insight into female libertarian writers, I guarantee that’s some twisted slash

  7. Rewind American television 15 or 20 years and you’ll see that it’s not just the developing world that finds weird stuff compelling. Hell. The only reason WWE exists to be exported to Bhutan is because *we* find it compelling.

  8. Wait, doesn’t one of the Reason writers do Xena fanfic?

    I think that is the adorable Cathy Young.

  9. Dan T.,

    You scoff, but there’s a reason Rowdy Roddy Piper is the Canadian ambassador to Bhutan. Why, the GDH went up 2% on that announcement alone!

  10. And let’s be honest, Reasonoids, even if you think the Bhutanese have every right to numb their minds with TV, don’t tell me you didn’t roll your eyes a little at Kerry’s labored insistence that it’s a “fantastic thing”.

  11. Dan, I think there’s a thread at Kos about how water flows downhill. You need to go straighten them out.

  12. I, for one, rolled my eyes at Kerry’s insistence that letting people choose whether or not to watch television is a “fantastic thing.” God alone knows where she got this idea that grown-ups can make their own leisure-time choices rather than have the choices made for them by a god-king.

    (See, Dan? I noticed you. I read your comment and responded with actual attention! That’s my good deed for the day.)

  13. Jennifer,

    You’ll think differently when you have children.

  14. “Without television, life is quite boring here,” she said. “It is good to see the outside world. I’ve seen Japanese farmers cultivating rice, and it’s almost the same as we do it here.”

    A TV in every home wihout government interferring. That’s the best hearts and mind campaign possible.

  15. You’ll think differently when you have children.

    You mean, she’ll give up on the idea that responding to childish stunts with actual attention is a good deed?

  16. she’ll give up on the idea that responding to childish stunts with actual attention is a good deed?

    I’ll have you know that trolls need love too. Give ’em enough of it and maybe they’ll stop trolling. And Kerry would understand this, too, if the milk of human kindness running through her veins hadn’t long since curdled into yogurt.

    That’s what happens to women who don’t reproduce.

  17. You can have my remote when you pry it out of my cold, dead, joy-juiced soaked fingers (I spend a lot of time on the x-rated channels)

  18. It is, I suppose, an anxious time for the Bhutanese. But rather than fear the loss or dilution of their identity through exposure to the outside world, they should strive to export it to the rest of us. I think the gentle excoriations of all us busy plainsmen by a bunch of scared mountain people could be highly entertaining and informative, sort of like a hybrid between Edward Abbey and Cute Overload. Forget teevee, get these people on the internets!

  19. Jennifer, it’s not too late. Join with us and reproduce. One of us! One of us!

  20. Thanks, PL, but I’d much rather start a catfight with Kerry Howley. My share of the ticket sales would more than cover the cost of this sweet little mountain aerie I’ve been eyeing.

  21. Jennifer,

    Ah, I see. Very well, then. Proceed.

  22. JENNIFER,

    URKOBOLD CAN PROVIDE SERVER SPACE ON URKOBOLD FOR ANY KERRY HOWLEY-JENNIFER NUDE, MUD-WRASSLIN’ CATFIGHTS. AS A PUBLIC SERVICE.

  23. Jennifer,
    Speaking on behalf of all the H&R basement dwellers,

    Thank You

  24. WARREN! YES, YOU, WARREN! HOW MUCH WOULD YOU PAY TO SEE JENNIFER VS. KERRY? $100?

  25. A hundred bucks? Fuck all y’all, in an aggressively non-sexual way. Mountain aeries aren’t cheap, you know.

  26. JENNIFER, YOU NA?VE FOOL. URKOBOLD IS CONDUCTING RESEARCH INTO PAY-PER-VIEW PRICING. SOON YOUR DREAMS OF AN OBERSALZBERG OF YOUR VERY OWN WILL BE REALIZED.

  27. oh fuck me. Urkobold gets added to the filter?

    *head explodes.

  28. Typical troll: Urkobold spelled his name wrong in his blog address.

  29. THERE IS NOTHING TYPICAL ABOUT THE URKOBOLD, WHO IS THE VICTIM OF A NASTY PLOT.

  30. Shit. Until this post, mine was misspelled too. Troll germs are contagious.

  31. Urkobold,

    What’s wrong with you?
    You should have been wearing protection!

    (from you or for you – I’m not sure.)

  32. Ah, Jennifer, I remember when your blog was young, and you were linking to the biblical site. I could almost feel your hate through the Intertubes. Kind of like that emperor dude in that movie, except that I didn’t enjoy it or anything. That guy was kinda weird.

  33. Ah, Jennifer, I remember when your blog was young, and you were linking to the biblical site. I could almost feel your hate through the Intertubes.

    Ah, those were the days, weren’t they? I was so young then. So idealistic. Remember when I used to have that regular commenter who claimed to be the second coming of Christ? God, how I miss him.

  34. Jennifer: So you want him to …return?

  35. Remember when I used to have that regular commenter who claimed to be the second coming of Christ?

    A messianic troll? Urkobold is impressed. Maybe a little inspired.

  36. Hell yes, Eric! The guy was awesome in the way that only the batshit insane can be. I remember he left this one comment explaining how his divinity could be proven by something involving Hurricane Katrina and why it’s good to be a Leo. And … um … some numbers.

  37. Found it in the archives, guys! Click on my name in this post, and it should lead you to the comments of the post last summer wherein the Messiah, a.k.a. Seven Star Hand, chose MY BLOG to announce His arrival to humanity.

    Mine. Not Urkobold’s, not Hit and Run’s, but MINE. Because I’m better than you.

  38. Damn! The link isn’t working. Shit. Let me try it again.

  39. Goddammit! Get thee behind me, Satan. One more try.

  40. All right, the link in the 3:55 post worked. The previous two did not because somehow the letter “S” worked its way into the address.

    “S” for Satan, of course. Or Seven Star Hand.

  41. So television has made the people of Bhutan come to believe their culture is boring and that watching pro wrestling is a good use of their time?

    If exposure to the outside world can inspire Bhutanese people to believe that mud-dwelling and rice-tending are not the full extent of the choices available to them, then yes.

  42. Jennifer,

    He’s a fraud. Jesus is a Capricorn.

  43. Jennifer, you wouldn’t be amused by trolls if you just had children.

    I say we lure Dan T., Dave W., and Guy Montag into one thread, evacuate everybody else, then crash the server.

    Who’s with me?

    (Urkobold, although a troll, can stay, because he amuses us.)

  44. URKOBOLD IS CONDUCTING RESEARCH INTO PAY-PER-VIEW PRICING.

    Research? Why do you need to do research? Don’t you trust the market?

    Demand Kurve!!!

  45. Urkobold can be the bait.
    A quick escape to Urkobold’s home under the intertoobz and everything will be fine.

  46. Ah, those were the days, weren’t they? I was so young then. So idealistic. Remember when I used to have that regular commenter who claimed to be the second coming of Christ? God, how I miss him.

    Jesus was a VIRGIN, how’s he supposed to come a second time? He didn’t come once!

  47. Jesus was a VIRGIN, how’s he supposed to come a second time? He didn’t come once!

    Since when does masturbation negate virginity?

  48. Since when does masturbation negate virginity?

    There’s a troll joke in here somewhere…

  49. Ask Jerry Falwell, Jennifer.

    OH WAIT HE’S DEAD!

  50. I could’ve asked the Messiah himself if he still commented on my blog. It’s people like You who drove him away.

  51. I never drove no messiah, although I did try to drive Miss Daisy once. She wanted Morgan Freeman, the bitch.

  52. Wait a second. Did I miss something? The chauffeur and Miss Daisy were lovers? Wow, and I thought that flick was among those grossly overrated Oscar winners (which are legion, I admit). Maybe I need to watch it again.

  53. Well, duh.

    Dontcha remember the straight-to-videodisc sequel, “Ridin Miss Daisy”?

  54. Ms. Tandy’s performance was too nuanced–I missed the whole thing. I thought she and Ackroyd were fooling around. I can be so dense sometimes.

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