Recently, a popular cable channel tvN’s “Youth Over Flowers in Africa” has gathered considerable fan bases, with the first episode reaching the highest rating among all of its series. The program is a travel reality show in which celebrities in their 20’s and 30’s go on a backpacking tour of foreign destination. In its fourth series, four young male actors had traveled to Namibia, Africa for one week. The members head towards tourist attractions such as Namib Desert and Victoria Falls.
When deeply immersed in the program, it gives viewers a strong impression that Africa is a place where wild animals are often encountered on roads and a herd of ostriches range vast plains. It seems to be an exciting place for travelers to explore the unknown world and go on an adventure with a jeep. Excited by the beautiful scenery of Africa portrayed in the TV program, some viewers blindly wish to visit Africa on their own just like the members of the program.
However, Is Africa simply a place where you can encounter all sorts of animals on streets? do TV programs always accurately depict the reality?
Last August, I participated in an overseas volunteer program in which 35 members were sent to Zambia, Africa to teach children computer skills. Unlike the mysterious image of Africa that “Youth Over Flowers in Africa” has created by highlighting only the wild animals and a jeep car, Africa that I had encountered had a lot of wounds that were yet to heal.
For the volunteer program, we had brought more than 50 laptop computers that were equipped with Microsoft programs to teach both students and teachers Microsoft Powerpoint. Originally planned to offer a six-hour-long lecture, we ended up having a two-hour-long lecture without proper computers due to the unexpected problems. When we arrived at the school we stayed, we were told that there was no electricity in the school, which meant that we were unable to use computers for our lecture. Also, we found out that the school did not have running water, and water that 400 students need came from a small well behind the school that the students had to fetch from. As a result, we had no choice but to give up on the hygiene education as well. Although most of the classes that we had prepared ended in vain, what saddened my heart most was the fact that the students were situated in an extremely poor educational environment.
To my surprise, a vast majority of students and teachers were infected with AIDS, and at school, they had no choice but to hide their disease as the disclosure means complete isolation from the school. Also, the students’ four-hour daily commute on foot to the school seriously weakened their health. However, many TV programs including “Youth Over Flowers” only highlight attractive facets such as tourist attractions that viewers are willing to watch, and often turn a blind eye to the inconvenient truth. However, these inconvenient truth is something that we have to face up to and needs to be publicly discussed .
TV is one of the most powerful forms of media in transmitting information and shaping people’s attitudes; it can also contribute to uncovering the inconvenient truths that are often neglected in our society. If “Youth Over Flowers in Africa” could have highlighted the social problems that Africa currently has, its impact on the society might have been quite big, alerting people of the problems that they were unaware of.
Everything cannot always be exciting and simple as portrayed in TV programs. The truth that we often do not wish to face is often hidden beneath the surface. Why don't we try to pay more attention to the brutal truth behind TV, rather than blindly accepting the information on TV.