Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Angolan Boob Tube

Angolan television is an interesting thing. There are two public Angolan stations, TPA-1 and TPA-2; both are run by the state. Several people have satellite cable, which carries several Brazilian and Potruguese channels, as well as CNN, Discovery, and others. If I were earning more I would pay for it, if nothing else because while at the hotel I got hooked on the Brazilian soaps currently showing on TV Globo. (If anyone knows what’s happening on Cobras e Largatos or Páginas da Vida, let me know!) However, I am receiving a fellowship salary, so I’ll stick to TPA. The first morning in my apartment I was looking forward to eating breakfast while watching TV, but there was nothing but static- no programs are broadcast until 8:30 am, and the program they show then is “As Seen on TV” which is an Angolan version of the Home Shopping Network. At night they show old soap operas (from the 80s) from Colombia or Mexico, or a couple of hours of music videos. Then of course there is the news, which is basically just an hour full of all the wonderful things the government is doing to help the people of Angola. The president's birthday was a few weeks ago, and they showed nothing but him blowing out the candles and programs about his life.

My favorite, however, is on the weekend when they show movies in English. These are not very good quality, but it is nice to hear English. For example, last weekend I watched an old TV miniseries based on Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” The problem is that they only show these movies for ½ hour at a time. So now I have no idea what will happen once the explorers reach the volcano. They usually don’t show the other parts of the programs, so each week I get to start- not finish- another movie.

But not today! Today I had the pleasure of watching a full hour-and-a-half of a made-for-TV movie staring Country Music Legend Reba McIntyre. Reba played a brave housewife (in the South, of course) who first loses her mother to breast cancer, then takes in her younger sister to raise. The Younger Sister is a “real handful” and drops out of high school to go live with her gas station attendant boyfriend. Reba then finds a lump in her breast, but luckily it was benign and she is in the clear. All of this prompts her go to back to college at the age of 35. She becomes the best student in the class thanks to the tutelage of her TA, Joshua. She spends hours and hours in the library, making her family resent her new Fancy College Ways, but it doesn’t stop Reba. Even when her farmer father dies, she trudges on in spite of her sorrow. What does nearly stop her is Joshua, who invites her over to his apartment for a private tutoring session then tries to rape her. Luckily she gets away with only a few scratches. Joshua threatens to fail her unless she drops out, but Reba studies extra, extra hard and aces her exam. Her wayward little sister comes home and all is well.

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