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Maciamo
22-01-04, 12:43
This doesn't come from any newspaper or sociological studies. In fact, that is just a hypothesis of mine, which I find would be interesting to discuss.

As I was watching the famous quizz programme on Japanese TV tonight, I was dismayed by the definitely low intelectual level of questions compared to the game in Europe (I can speak for the UK, France and Belgium at least). Tonight's questions were really averaging primary's school's level of knowledge. "What is the name of the princess with whom Alladin falls in love in Disney's animation ?" (the answer was of course "Jasmine", but the participant had to call the audience, of which only 66% got it right). That was a question for 1,5 million yen (the maximum being 10 million, 20x less than the UK's 1 million pound at current rate, which incidentally is disappointing for Tokyo, the world's most expensive city).

Another question, for which a previous participant failed, was : "If 5 people play hide-and-seek and 2 have already been found, how many remain to find ?" The guy answer 3, and the answer was obviously 2, as one is seeking... I don't even want to try to remember the very first questions for each participant, as they were disgustingly easy, even for me who isn't Japanese (as the game is culturally oriented).

In Europe, questions have seemed a little bit easier in the UK than in France or Belgium, but Japan really takes the biscuit. That matches perfectly with my opinion of the average Japanese "general knowledge". I have been appalled many times by hearing some of my (adult and well-paid, so supposedly well-educated) students, telling me such things as Argentina is part of Europe, New York the capital of the US, the US and the American continent the same thing (so many actually believe it, and confuse countries like Colombia or Canada with US States !), or even that Napoleon was a knight leading the crusades (I lie not !).

Just wondering, does "who wants to be a millionaire" exist in the US ?

Porl
22-01-04, 12:58
As far as I know the show is in america or at least it was running. Im in the UK so i've only heard it casually commented on when i listen to the Chicago talk radio I listen too.

I cant believe that they got those questions wrong. Wow!! and i thought that most of the questions on the UK Who wants to be a Millionaire were easy!!! I think everyone here would clean up big time on the japanese version of the show....... :note: now just got to get past that hurdle called 'learning japanese' :p

I was under the impression that the Japanese education system was really good and that they were all pretty smart..how come they dont know that much general knowledge? ..I know my brain-hole is crammed full of mostly irrelevent general knowledge...dunno where it came from...i woke up one morning and it was just there......now im a wizz at games like Trivial Pursuit!!! especially after a good measure of 'thinking juice' (i.e. vodka etc) to lube up the ol puzzler. :D

Porl''

jeisan
22-01-04, 13:08
yeah it is, regis used to be the host, now its this lady. but some of the first questions are quite lame. nothing as absurd as the 2 you mentioned, as far as ive seen. theres only been a handful of people that have actually gone all the way to the one million us dollar.

Dream Time
22-01-04, 13:10
Originally posted by Maciamo
Tonight's questions were really averaging primary's school's level of knowledge. "What is the name of the princess with whom Alladin falls in love in Disney's animation ?" (the answer was of course "Jasmine", but the participant had to call the audience, of which only 66% got it right).

well I don't know the answer of this question too,since I do not watch Disney animation and I only watched a little bit when I was a kid,
I prefer watching Japanese animation and I don't even watch American cartoons like the Simpsons.
I guess most people in Japan prefers to watch Japanese animation too.

kirei_na_me
22-01-04, 13:36
Who Wants to be a Millionaire was extremely popular in the U.S. It was on in the evening and hosted by Regis Philbin for...maybe 2 seasons? More? Now, Meredith Vieira hosts it and it comes on in the late afternoon. I think there were more than just a few people who won the million, but still not many. Usually, the questions are pathetically easy until they get to about $32,000, which is about halfway. Even after that, they are still kind of easy. I have seen people who have had to poll the audience on the $200 or $300 dollar questions or even call a friend. We never know if it's their lack of intelligence or nervousness, though. At home, I can answer most of them(usually screaming at the TV in frustration), but if I were on that stage in front of television cameras and playing for a million dollars, I might buckle under pressure. That might be what happens to some of them.

And I think Disney is pretty popular in Japan. My husband even likes some of the Disney movies and owns them. They, of course, also have Tokyo Disney too, so I think it's quite popular.

qchan
22-01-04, 14:20
Disney is popular here in Japan, but the story of Aladdin is not that popular. I didn't know the answer either but I don't think it's embarassing. I just didn't see the movie, that's all. I'm more surprised that the story of Aladdin is so popular in Europe and America, that it's an unbelievable thing if one cannot answer the question of it.

General knowledge in your country is not always a general knowledge in other country. And it's same for the geography or history thing, too.

Matthew C. Perry
22-01-04, 17:04
Maciamo, if you watch anything else besides "Millionaire" on Japanese TV, I sure you've noticed the large number of wacky yet informative general knowledge oriented progams that appear in prime time, far more than American TV, witch is dominated by sitcoms. Now I'm sure niether place measures up to lofty European levels, but from where I sit, Japan looks to be awash in general knowledge.

Elizabeth
22-01-04, 17:38
If I recall correctly, the show was actually a huge failure in Japan attributed in part to the Japanese mindset of not wanting to take money that wasn't properly earned, but it could also be an intrinsic lack of interest in the rest of the world. Japanese also seem to me more inclined towards educational activies than Americans but less than Europeans. Didn't we at least know as much already? :p

Shidenkai
22-01-04, 23:11
In Italy, The Millionaire is a media event; but I think that is a stupid game for dodgers people.

Maciamo
23-01-04, 05:21
Originally posted by Dream Time
well I don't know the answer of this question too,since I do not watch Disney animation and I only watched a little bit when I was a kid,
I prefer watching Japanese animation and I don't even watch American cartoons like the Simpsons.
I guess most people in Japan prefers to watch Japanese animation too.

That's not the point. Aladdin is not only a Disney animation, but a classics from the "1001 nights tales". There had been other non-Disney animation before (maybe also Japanese ones).

Winter
23-01-04, 05:27
I'm comforted to know that the ignorance that I idiotically thought only existed so abundantly in the US also exists in Japan; the perverbial promised land for so many.

Booya.

Golgo_13
23-01-04, 06:56
Here we go generalizing and stereotyping again.

Maciamo
23-01-04, 10:11
Originally posted by Matthew C. Perry
Maciamo, if you watch anything else besides "Millionaire" on Japanese TV, I sure you've noticed the large number of wacky yet informative general knowledge oriented progams that appear in prime time, far more than American TV, witch is dominated by sitcoms. Now I'm sure niether place measures up to lofty European levels, but from where I sit, Japan looks to be awash in general knowledge.

Yes, I agree, and that's the point of my title (or should I have said that TV programmes in general in a given country reflect a nation's educational level ?).

I've seen TV programmes in the US a few times when I was there, and even among the 100s of channels by satelite, only the news channels (CNN...) or documentary ones (history, discovery, national geographic...) can pretend to be intellectual.

By comparison, any French channel is an intellectual channel, with lots of debates or cultural programmes (society, politics, sciences, history, literature...), but of course also its fair share of soap operas (most of them American !), sports or some stupid games, with a few more high-brow games with really hard quizzes for highschool or university students. There are surpisingly few documentaries though. There are cooking programmes, but much less than in Japan.

British TV has much more documentaries (history, travel, nature and science especially) and lots of British or imported series, and IMO more interesting games than in France, and which tend to export well (millionaire, weakest link...).

Belgian TV is divided between Dutch and French-speaking channels. They have the merit to show fewer commercials than French channels (well the BBC doesn't have any, which is even better), and usually not at all in the middle of films or sport competition (F1, football...). They show quite a lot of movies and there are few stupid programmes. But lack a bit of punch.

Italian TV has lots of varieties with beautiful girls applausing around the presentator. Lots of games and soap operas. Entertaining, but rather low-brow.

Japanese TV has more commercials than any other TV I know, sometimes cutting movies or series every 5 MINUTES and even cutting off parts of the movies because they end up not having enough time showing all ! Not even worth trying to watch. Otherwise, lots of cooking programmes, stupid games (mostly with celebrities called TV "tarento", rather than ordinary people like in Europe) and of course animes, Japase soap operas, quite a lot of news, but fewer movies than in Europe. Another particularity, language learning programmes with native speakers.

Maciamo
23-01-04, 10:44
Originally posted by Elizabeth
If I recall correctly, the show was actually a huge failure in Japan attributed in part to the Japanese mindset of not wanting to take money that wasn't properly earned, but it could also be an intrinsic lack of interest in the rest of the world.

I have to disagree twice here.

1) Japanese in my opinion, show a much more open interest in money (making, keeping, counting, using, loving...) than the average European, for whom it is not a discussion topic. Japanese have so many programmes which only purpose is to show the price of things (how much cost the food in that restaurant, the clothes in that shop, the house of that person, etc.). Eventhough there are usually very honest about money (something difficult to find anywhere else in the world), I don't know anybody who would refuse to try and win money in such games. The lottery is so popular that we can see huge queues (=lines) in areas like Ginza, where people don't mind showing in front of everybody that they can wait 1h for a lotery ticket - not really the epitom of properly earned money. But the ultimate culmination of Japanese love for easy money (compared to Europeans, at least) is reflected in the omnipresence of Pachinko parlours. Every morning a bit before 10am (opening time in my area), I see about 50 people queuing in front of each of the 4 pachinko parlours near my (small) station. So making money easily is certainly not a problem for Japanese.

2) Japanese don't lack interest in the world, on the contrary, the are very concerned about their image abroad, and how other people do things (fashion, food, business...). The problem is rather that their knowledge doesn't match their interest, maybe because of a deficiency in their educational system (eg. they have to choose between Japanese or World History, but can't take both), or a tendency to believe tupid stereotypes and amalgamate all Westerners or foreigner under the term "gaijin", as if they were all the same. How many times haven't I been confused for an American, asked if I celebrated Halloween or Thanksgiving (2 American traditions) or ask me advice about travelling or telephoning to the States or plainly asking "how do American do that ?", every time by people who knew very well I was European. But for them it's the same. The only way to make them understand is by asking them if Japanese, Korean, Chinese and, say, Thai, are all the same and so things the same way. The problem with most Japanese is that, eventough they have the chance to learn everyday about other countries, their encoding of information is biased from the begining.

Elizabeth
23-01-04, 13:26
Originally posted by Maciamo
I have to disagree twice here.

1) Japanese in my opinion, show a much more open interest in money (making, keeping, counting, using, loving...) than the average European, for whom it is not a discussion topic. Japanese have so many programmes which only purpose is to show the price of things (how much cost the food in that restaurant, the clothes in that shop, the house of that person, etc.). Eventhough there are usually very honest about money (something difficult to find anywhere else in the world), I don't know anybody who would refuse to try and win money in such games.
Perhaps the "entertainment" aspect coming from contestants blatently flaunting their knowledge for money was what was unpalatable then. It's hard to say without knowing more about the questions themselves how "culturally geared" they actually are. I was just trying to come up with reasons the show was a spectacular success from its debut pretty much everywhere but Japan.

Jean-Francois
23-01-04, 14:11
I don't know about the level of common knowledge of Japanese people in Japan but my Japanese friends who are visa students in Canada know a lot more about Canada, United States and China than I know about Japan.

Maciamo
23-01-04, 14:54
Originally posted by Jean-Francois
I don't know about the level of common knowledge of Japanese people in Japan but my Japanese friends who are visa students in Canada know a lot more about Canada, United States and China than I know about Japan.

Well that doesn't mean anything as we don't know what you know about Japan. Anyhow, I think it's only natural for someone to learn about the country they live in, and I seriously doubt that your friends know more than you about your country (mentality, traditions, institutions, history, geography, celebrities, or just the languages).

Matthew C. Perry
23-01-04, 15:35
Originally posted by Maciamo
[B] Japanese in my opinion, show a much more open interest in money (making, keeping, counting, using, loving...) than the average European, for whom it is not a discussion topic.
Maciamo, I'm sure that is true. There is no pretense of being uninterested in money. This is doubly so in China... probably something in the shared Confucian heritage

I think the thing with the game shows is not that the Japanese don't want to win easy money, it's that they don't find it entertaining to see other people win easy money. They'd much rather see people struggle and "gaman" for it.

Yes, there is a tendancy to see the world in terms of a Japanese/foreigner dichotomy, and there is a huge American footprint on the country. You sound as if you find this all rather odd, but isn't it just what you would expect given the history? Europeans have always lived in close proximity with a dozen other cultures, Japanese have not. Given those facts, both your attitude, and that of the typical Japanese are quite understandable.

Elizabeth
23-01-04, 17:59
Originally posted by Matthew C. Perry
Maciamo, I'm sure that is true. There is no pretense of being uninterested in money. This is doubly so in China... probably something in the shared Confucian heritage

I think the thing with the game shows is not that the Japanese don't want to win easy money, it's that they don't find it entertaining to see other people win easy money. They'd much rather see people struggle and "gaman" for it.
And apparently it was a struggle for too many of these contestants. :D The whole concept probably goes against a certain expectation of personal modesty as well that no matter how facile you are with these sorts of questions, it would be unwise to show off and become a national celebrity by pretending to know more than everyone else.

kirei_na_me
23-01-04, 18:10
Originally posted by Elizabeth
And apparently it was a struggle for too many of these contestants. :D The whole concept probably goes against a certain expectation of personal modesty as well that no matter how facile you are with these sorts of questions, it would be unwise to show off and become a national celebrity by pretending to know more than everyone else.

Good point, Elizabeth... :p

Elizabeth
23-01-04, 19:07
It never ceases to amaze me how many Westerners seem tone deaf to this aspect of the culture.

Maciamo
24-01-04, 02:36
Originally posted by Elizabeth
The whole concept probably goes against a certain expectation of personal modesty as well that no matter how facile you are with these sorts of questions, it would be unwise to show off and become a national celebrity by pretending to know more than everyone else.

So do you think that the reason why Japanese know so little about the world is because they feel that knowing more than the average is excluding oneself from the group ? That fits very well with the Japanese concept of harmony and collectivism, and that also explains why in Japan more than anywhere else I can easily guess what people know or what stereotypes are in their mind about the world. In Western countries, it depends too much on a person's education, intelligence, curiosity or experience. In Japan, no matter how intelligent they are or how much they have travelled, stereotypes and stupid questions like "does your country have 4 seasons" or "can you eat sushi and natto ?" are asked indifferently by anybody of any age, sex and social background.

in Japan, it's almost difficult to tell who is a "red-neck/riff-raff" and who is an intellectual/cultivated person. It's like everybody is both at the same time !

kirei_na_me
24-01-04, 02:51
Definitely, Maciamo!!! I came to the realization some time ago, that I was computing what came out of Japanese people's mouths, into what they were actually thinking. Sometimes it can be completely different--what they're thinking and what they say. It's a very difficult task, boys and girls... ;)

Matthew C. Perry
24-01-04, 03:12
Originally posted by Maciamo So do you think that the reason why Japanese know so little about the world...

Come on, would you stop with that? It just isn't true. If you tested people around the world for general world knowledge, the Japanese would not fair that badly.



In Japan, no matter how intelligent they are or how much they have travelled, stereotypes and stupid questions like "does your country have 4 seasons" or "can you eat sushi and natto ?" are asked indifferently by anybody of any age, sex and social background.

I think, when it comes to stereotypes, it is Westerners who have the irrational attitude. Stereotypes are usually true, and provide a useful context for understanding.

As for the stupid questions, sure they can be annoying. I've lived in Japan for 13 years, and people still compliment me on my ability to use chopsticks, something I pretty well mastered in my first month here. I think these types of questions are a kind of formality. There are certain questions that considered "safe gaijin questions" for Japanese who aren't really sure how they should relate to foreigners.

Elizabeth
24-01-04, 05:16
Originally posted by kirei_na_me
Definitely, Maciamo!!! I came to the realization some time ago, that I was computing what came out of Japanese people's mouths, into what they were actually thinking. Sometimes it can be completely different--what they're thinking and what they say. It's a very difficult task, boys and girls... ;)
You really do have to be on the lookout for the subtlest changes in mannerism or expression. A former student I used to stay with there, for instance, recently confided that his job situation in the last year had devolved from merely unpleasant to practically unbearable to the point he was actually seriously considering a change of careers. Looking back the only indication that comes to mind was that he would formerly let out a mild hum or whistle upon returning home and last time it was more like a softer, slightly resigned sigh. Knowing fall was always a stressful season, I didn't think much of it at the time much to my regret now....:sorry:

Golgo_13
24-01-04, 05:36
To claim that the quality of a country's education system can be measured by some silly TV quiz show is ridiculous.

Name one nation in the West where primary school students are expected to learn and master hundreds of complicated written characters (i.e., Kanji) in addition to the alphabet.

Besides, y'all really need to watch The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and see his "Jay Walking" segment where he goes up to people on the street and ask them SIMPLE questions. Most people can't get the answer. But they EDIT out all the people who do get the answers correctly.

Elizabeth
24-01-04, 15:09
Any Russians around? In that version contestants would rarely poll the audience which had a reputation of deliberately trying to trick them and being correct only ten percent of the time. Which must also say more about post-Communist values than their education system.