NHK is considering ending “Gatten! and “Variety Life Laugh Encyclopedia” are being considered for termination. When I heard this news, the first thing I thought was, “NHK, please don’t lose your ‘dumb funny spirit’! Please don’t lose your “dorky fun spirit!
Have you ever heard of the term “dumb fun spirit”? I bet you haven’t. No wonder. That’s because I made up the term myself. Let me explain what I mean.
If a program starts, it will end someday. Especially for “Variety Seikatsu Laugh Encyclopedia,” the host, Mr. Nizuru Shofukutei, passed away in August this year, so it is not unreasonable to assume that the program will end. That in itself is unavoidable. However, you may be tempted to think that the termination of these two programs is “news of the same quality” as the recent termination of long-running popular programs on commercial TV, but you must not think so. It is completely different.
The reason why so many long-running and popular commercial TV programs have ended this year is, simply put, because the criteria for evaluating advertising value has changed. This is the “core target” that is so popular these days. In layman’s terms, the advertisers who pay for commercials are saying, “We won’t pay for programs unless they can be seen by young people,” so commercial broadcasters have ended programs that are only watched by the elderly. The TV people who make programs for the commercial broadcasters are now trying their best to show TV to the “Generation Z youth” who they know will not watch TV.
So what about NHK? I’m sure no one has ever seen a commercial on NHK. There is no such thing as an “advertiser. It has nothing to do with “individual viewership” or “core targets. So there is no need to end programs for the elderly at all.
In fact, many of those who pay NHK’s subscription fee earnestly look forward to watching programs for the elderly, so it is logical to say that more programs for the elderly should be made available. Therefore, the end of long-running popular programs on commercial TV and the end of long-running popular programs on NHK may look like the same thing, but they are completely different stories.
Now, I would like to explain the term I coined, “dumb fun spirits. As a TV man at a commercial key station, I realized that “NHK’s strongest weapon in programming is this! This is what I realized firsthand.
Remember once upon a time, there was a program called “Comedy Oedo de Gozaru”, which ran from 1995 to 2004 and was a monster long-running and popular program. When this program started, I was a young and motivated TV man in my twenties, in my third year at TV Asahi. When I heard the title of this program, I was shocked.
I honestly thought, “This is impossible. What’s wrong with me? I felt as if I had been hit over the head with a club. Let’s break it down. Let’s break it down: “Comedy,” “Oedo,” and “Dezaru. No matter which element I took, there was no element that would be popular in modern Japan. The word “comedy” is old-fashioned, but that’s okay. I can’t figure out why they went to the trouble of adding the “O” to “Edo” and ending it with “Gozaru”. In the first place, has there ever been even one person, including in the Edo period, who has ever said something like “Oedo de gozaru”? That’s outrageous Killing Sense! I was young, and I was speechless.
But it was definitely me who was wrong. It was a great title that embodied the kind of programming that sticks deeply in the minds of NHK’s main audience.
TV doesn’t have to be tasteful. TV doesn’t have to be tasteful; it is better to be lame and have people find it interesting. This program taught me, a young and inexperienced TV man, a valuable lesson: “The more tacky you are, the more people all over the country can watch you with peace of mind. Ever since then, I have respected NHK as a giant with the strongest weapon in the world of television, the “dumb fun spirit.
Let’s talk about “Gatten! and “Variety Life Laugh Encyclopedia”. There is no doubt that these two long-running programs are full of “dumb funny spirits. I especially love “Encyclopedia of Life and Laughs,” which has a Kamigata style that will surprise you and make you think, “I didn’t know you were still active! The most wonderful thing about this show is that it features veteran Kamigata comedians who you may be surprised to learn are still active, and you can watch their entertaining short comedies.
It’s great to see these veteran Kamigata masters perform, and the best part of it all is watching their short comedy skits. They introduce the personal opinions of lawyers with Osaka dialects in a very rough “How about the law? It’s a “dumb fun show that makes you feel a little smarter while confirming that the Kamigata veteran masters are still alive and well. The hurdles imposed on viewers by this program are infinitely low. It’s a wonderful national program that you can go home to your parents, lie down in your living room, and watch without worry.
If they are going to end this kind of program, I would like to see its successor to be a program like this, full of dorky and funny spirits. I think there is a need for a program that people all over Japan, men and women of all ages, can lie down and laugh and say, “Hahahahahaha.
However, I have a big concern. I’m wondering if we’ll see the start of something like “a new interactive virtual variety show linked to social media that supports the SDGs lifestyle of Generation Z.” I was impressed when I wrote it myself, but it seems that programs like the ones in parentheses above are NHK’s favorite. It’s unnecessarily high-minded. They seem unnecessarily sophisticated and fashionable. Yes, “stylish”.
I have acquaintances from NHK who are also quite young, and they are all generally very conscious. And they are serious. They always say, “We’re not good enough, are we? I want the commercial broadcasters to tell us what to do,” and they are very humble. They are all generally good people. I don’t know what it is, but they seem to want to do something new.
I don’t know what it is, but they want to do something new, and they are burning with a sense of mission: “We have to make innovative, interesting, and stylish programs so that young people will continue to pay their subscription fees. For some reason, they also want to get good ratings. Whenever I meet these people, I always tell them, “NHK is not a commercial broadcaster, so please don’t worry about the ratings and make programs that only NHK can make,” but for some reason they don’t take me seriously.
And what they seem to be making is something like “a new interactive virtual variety show linked to social media that supports the SDGs lifestyle of Generation Z”. I’m sorry, but I don’t think this is the way to go.
First of all, young and conscious people don’t watch TV anymore. If you want to attract young people who will continue to pay subscription fees in the future, your target should be “ordinary young people who are not conscious people. We need the “dumb funny spirit. It would be better to make a “comedy Oedo de gozaimasu” for young people. However, the people who join NHK are all highly conscious, so they tend to want to make programs that are “highly conscious and stylish”.
I teach at a university and have a 20-year-old son, so I have a lot of opportunities to talk to young people, but I have never heard them talk about “NHK’s experimental and stylish variety”. Unfortunately, it’s probably not reaching most young people. On the other hand, I often hear about “NHK’s experimental and stylish variety” from old men and women around the industry. They say, “NHK is doing a great job making innovative programs. To be honest, I think most of the people who say “NHK is doing a great job making innovative programs, it’s wonderful” are mostly elderly people.
The industry is surprisingly small and closed, so if you hear praise from all over the industry, you may feel that what we are doing is reaching them, but to be honest, it is just an “inside joke. If we don’t resonate with young people all over Japan outside the industry, we will never be able to stop young people from leaving television.
TV people want to make something cool and brag about it, saying it is their work. But the really cool TV people are the ones who dare to go down the lame road. Television is not a cool thing. It is something that everyone can enjoy casually.
If you were at NHK, you might think, “We want to make cool programs for young people like the commercial broadcasters. The people at NHK may be under the impression that people think NHK is lame. It is true that when you hand out your business card at a social event for people in the industry and introduce yourself by saying, “I’m the director of Comedy Oedo de Gozaru,” you may experience a battle with shame.
But don’t worry about it. What’ s really cool is to maintain the “dumb fun spirit,” a trump card that only the king of the industry can use. I hope that NHK will continue to be the “dorky cool giant of the TV industry. I’m sure that’s what a lot of commercial TV people want too, which is why I’ve written this dry love letter to them.
Text： Hiromichi Chinmoku / TV producer and writer
Joined TV Asahi in 1992. After covering the Great Hanshin Earthquake and Aum Shinrikyo as a reporter in the Social Affairs Department, he worked as a director for Super J Channel, Super Morning, and News Station before becoming a producer. After working as a director of Super J Channel, Super Morning, and News Station, he became a producer. He has been involved in many overseas projects, including coverage of China, the Korean Peninsula, and the terrorist attacks in the United States. In August 2019, he became an independent producer and has been active not only in broadcasting but also in various media. He is also a part-time lecturer at the Department of Newspapers, Faculty of Letters, Sophia University. As a member of the Society for Public Communication, she has studied regional media, and has researched and written articles on face-hame-panels as her life's work. His recent publications include "Dramatically Increase Access and Registration! Video Production" (Nihon Jitsugyo Shuppansha).