Trauma From Channel Two

I have to confess what I have right now before telling the story: jeans of Guess, Calvin Klein, and Levis, shirts of Fila, a cap of Nike, a bag of Eastpak, shoes of Timberland, and a pen of Bic. Whatelse? Hmmm… Pentium 4 Processor and some MSN products should be included in my collection. More? O.K. Troy, Panic Room, Queer As Folk, Things Falling Apart, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and, which are recently watched, bought, and enjoyed or not enjoyed. To The 5 Boroughs is on my wish list. OH, MY GOD! I am one of the biggest consumers of American Popular Culture. I should find some excuses to get out of this embarrassment. Where [CENSORED] do these super consumptions come from? Am I just stupid Beavis or Butthead?

Fortunately McDonald’s and Disney failed to have influence on my life at all. I hated Mac’s buns which taste like rubber, and mice dancing and singing, which was the dumbest thing I believed all the time. Nevertheless, unfortunately I was traumatized and haunted by one thing so terrible. CHANNEL TWO. The brutal culture attack from the U.S. Armed forces stationed in Korea. In my teens AFKN, Channel Two, was like home-schooling and 24 hours non-stop cable TV without censorship and TV Parental Guidelines such as V-chip. It did teach me a lot about English (Many Korean still watch it in order to learn English. I don’t know if it works but they believe.), ethics, music, history, sex, culture, and so on, which my teachers had never told me at school. It was always hip, fun, cool, and sometimes sensual. (But I now know that it was dangerous too.) Name whatever! Any fancy adjective can be added to AFKN. It was originally established for U.S. soldiers. But it seduced me into longing for or imitating American, using fake fantasy and absolute obeisance which Disney can never follow.

I remember when I first listened to “The great Star-Spangled Banner,” watching the huge Stars and Stripes fluttering in the TV screen. Shown was a lot of America’s imperialistic and ideological propaganda about its history or activities of U.S. Army every 20 or 30 minutes. Even though I didn’t understand much at that time, the United States was just shown as Disney Land. What I saw in AFKN was not stupid cartoon characters dancing, singing, and running around but real happy white Americans who enjoyed Thanksgiving parades or parties and real delightful children playing with fancy toys. I wanted to be a blond boy who had a big train set with railroad in the shopping brochure which I had kept for a long time. It was a dream which had to come true someday even though the dream was not that good all the time. Channel two sometimes showed me half-naked man and woman kissing and then making love even before I was teen. A man over a woman having sex is still vivid in my mind. Who should be to blame? Myself? Is it possible if I say that AFKN ruined my innocent childhood? Is it O.K. to blame it even though it never forced me to watch Sesame Street, Wheel of Fortune (Pat and especially Vanna. Who cannot rememeber the smile of the hostess?), Saturday Night Live or whatever? How could innocent Korean boys forget the theme song of Guiding Light and General Hospital?

Damn It! It is needless to say the influence of The 8th (US) Army on Korean lifestyle. It was much more related with my life and culture. A lot of stuffs made in U.S.A. were given to my family by my aunt who lived near the Osan base camp. I can’t forget the taste of candies, milks and especially Ketchup which I first had eaten at around seven years old. I still have more that 20-year-old SONY cassette player. How couldn’t it be a Dream Land to me? The virtual image of the United States was as sweet as marshmallow. Any teenagers could not resist the Material Girl’s temptations. I felt even the emptiness and the despondency when it was decided to stop broadcasting in my town.

The culture shock from AFKN has been directly connected to American culture’s superiority to that of Korea. Many Korean unfortunately bored to listen and see Korean traditional music and dancing. (Frankly speaking, many Korean hate that.) The Korean Folk Village is considered as a place only for foreign visitors, not because we already know and are very familiar with Korean tradition but because Korean tradition is regarded as irrational and old-fashioned way of life. For more than 50 years, American culture has permeated all of Korean home without antipathy or opposition, using various mass media such as AFKN to persuade us into believing that consumption of their culture is the only way to avoid our silly tradition and therefore to ascend our class. I don’t know whether you disagree with my idea. However, we must recognize that the persuasion and the consent are not visible nor clearly mentioned in this case. It should be recognized that New York in “Friends” is fake, before, during, and after watching this show. We should be able to recognize the stupidity of a thoughtless Korean girl who wore “I Love N.Y.” shirts to promote her book. This is the only way to survive in the invisible Imperialistic Age.

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