JOHNNY NEIHU'S NEWS WATCH: Lao-hu [OLD TIGER] Wuzi (''Tiger Woods'' in Mandarin): cheesiness in motion
By Johnny Neihu [強尼內湖]
Saturday, Dec 05, 2009, Page 8
What do you get when you cross a sensationalist media outfit with a scandal involving the world’s highest-paid athlete?
You get a massive publicity boost for Apple Daily’s controversial new “News-in-Motion” animations.
The Taiwanese edition of the Hong Kong-born paper launched the service late last month, immediately prompting a storm of criticism from the Taipei City Government, the National Communications Commission, prosecutors, women’s rights and children’s welfare groups — and the ornery obasan who tallies up my tea eggs and Taiwan Beer at the local 7-Eleven (I’ve gotten an earful about this for the past week, believe me.)
Their beef: Apple Daily’s animated re-enactments of grisly rapes, assaults and murders are harmful to child development. And the little ones can access the mind-poisoning content with just a click of the mouse — or a swipe of their 3G cellphones across the rag’s front page.
Never mind that Taiwan’s tots, tykes and teens can already get an eyeful of soft porn from the teetering piles of Next Magazine prominently stacked on the counters of convenience stores nationwide. Or that graphic and gory pictures of mangled car accident victims are on display in the Apple Daily’s print version at the newsstand every morning.
No, this time, with News-in-Motion, the paper has gone too far. Or so say the outraged.
After seeing their treatment of the saga involving champion golfer Laohu Wuzi (Tiger Woods), I’m inclined to agree. But the problem isn’t over-the-top gore.
It’s extreme cheesiness.
Woods, for those hiding from cable news headlines, got the global gossip mill a turnin’ after being injured in a car crash outside his Florida home.
His wife initially reported the crash as an accident. But there has been much speculation that she — perhaps enraged at him over his alleged affair with a high-class New York City hostess — assaulted him and his car with a golf club.
Basically, she was going for a hole in one — on Tiger’s face. Or so the gossip goes.
I don’t know what they’re putting in the tea over there at Next Media Animation, but their renderings of the main characters in this speculative saga are atrocious.
The cop looks like a depraved skinhead. Tiger’s wife’s hair looks like a lifeless rodent that’s been stapled to her head. And their animated Tiger looks like Planet of the Apes-meets-ventriloquist’s dummy. Embarrassing.
The video has become an overnight laughingstock. US media and bloggers, in particular, have had a field day.
Time magazine called the video “unintentionally hilarious”:
“The clip opens with some fairly straightforward footage of Woods’ driveway, presumably shot from a news helicopter. But then things jump into three badly animated dimensions: a 3-D cop is shocked — shocked! — to hear of Tiger’s accident and rushes to the scene only to find … inconsolable Barbie-like Elin Nordegren, crouched over her husband’s unconscious body. But wait! After a shaky dissolve, the story changes. In the retelling, Nordegren has found out about Woods’ alleged infidelities; animated, massively conjectural craziness ensues.”
The blogger GrrlScientist (scienceblogs.com/grrlscientist) muses: “Are animations such as these legal for use by news organizations in the US? I suspect not; otherwise, they’d be making use of them many years ago.”
Oregonian blogger Joseph Rose had the most withering remarks: “Try as we might to steer clear of the nation’s most talked about traffic crash, we relented after seeing this badly animated treatment of the ‘Tiger Woods Incident’ (in Chinese, no less).
“From trash to crash, it’s so bad that it’s worth watching.
“A Taiwanese news station presented the slapped-together re-enactment of the whole ordeal. It’s supremely silly, but it still beats one of those cheesy FOX crime-show replays using bad actors.”
Here’s Ian Fortey at Web site FunnyCrave.com, in a post called “Taiwan Tells Us What Really Happened with Tiger Woods”:
“We can speculate (even though we all know it’s true at this point) about what Tiger did or didn’t do. And we can wonder if he was being chased down the street by a golf club wielding Swede, or we can turn to Taiwan. Yes, the Taiwanese media are on their game today and they have put together a little video simulation of what might have happened.
“The action starts 17 seconds into the video when a panicked and wide eyed policeman, possibly under threat from zombies, gets a phone call. Tiger’s down, man! He’s in the street. He’s hurt. Hurry the fuck up!
“An enraged, honey blonde who looks curiously like Carmen Electra grits [her] teeth. Dammit, man! This is Tiger Woods! Don’t you let him die!”
Fortey continues the blow-by-blow of the animation, before writing: “Cut to more boring reality that no one cares about. And we don’t need to care. Because now we know. Now we know. Thanks, Taiwanese media!”
The New York Post sniffed that much of News-in-Motion’s re-enactment was based on “supposition.”
Clearly these commentators have never had a taste of the Taiwanese media. Why, supp and spec are our bread and butter — and what self-respecting Taiwanese media boss would let the facts (or lack thereof) get in the way of a pulse-quickening smackdown re-enactment?
But if the Apple Daily lost Taiwan some major face, another Taiwanese won a bit back for us.
A Taiwanese gamer named “Little Gray” has now attained legendary status among players of the hugely popular online multiplayer game World of Warcraft.
He’s a “druid” from the guild “TW-Wrathbringer,” and if the reports are right, he’s completed all of the game’s 986 “achievements” — a first.
I have no idea what that means. But we Taiwanese will take our glory where we can get it.
Despite my recent foray into the world of tweeting, twittering and virtual gardening, I’m at a loss to decipher commentary such as the following, from Greg Tito at The Escapist:
“There are a few glitches. He has yet to complete the BB King achievement which was added in patch 3.2.2 but a bug in displaying an old PvP achievement bumps him up to 986 complete.”
Riiight. Still, despite that minor controversy, Tito goes on to lavish Little Gray with some high praise.
“This player is pretty hardcore ... Having to master so many different facets of the game from dungeons to PvP to collecting minipets and obscure recipes is insurmountable for such a measly player like myself.”
Along his path to geek superstardom, Little Gray exterminated 390,895 creatures and completed 5,906 quests, the reports say.
Jim Reilly at IGN.com gushes: “What was once thought to be impossible has become reality.”
Hopefully, Little Gray’s feat will overshadow Taiwan’s other embarrassing news of the week — the allegation from former Liberia strongman Charles Taylor to Special Court for Sierra Leone judges that he received US$1 million from Taiwan in 1997 to support his then candidacy for Liberia’s presidency.
“They developed an interest in me,” Taylor told judges, according to the news Web site AllAfrica.com.
“At that particular time, it was clear that elections were coming up. There was this concern that after the elections, they were concerned that China will block their interest in Liberia. It was like a form of PR for them because they were concerned that diplomatic support will continue after I became president. It was part of a policy to try to court foreign countries or prospective leaders,” he said.
Taiwan wrote a check in his name and handed it to Taylor’s chief of protocol, Musa Sesay, in the Ivory Coast, the site reported.
What Taiwan needs now is an animation of that scenario, plus another one, depicting what might have happened instead — such as a Taiwanese official hand-delivering the check to a hospital specializing in the care and rehabilitation of amputee child soldiers.
Where’s the News-in-Motion team when you really need them?
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See Noam Cohen's New York Times article below: