April 12, 2014 - 11.42am
“The television world is full of lies and fake things,” Mr. White said when one of Alva’s friends asked what the artificial fog was made for. Looking at his expressions, the fourteen-year-old student knew that it was beyond the explanation he had just given. Alva knew the masquerade was not only for the purpose of making the fog so the light rays would be visible, or putting make-ups on the host’s face, or placing the right property at the right spot of the studio. Then, Mr. Richman told Mr. White to take them to the next studio. Mr. White obeyed, and the group moved again until lunch break.
“Al, what’s with you? You usually are the most enthusiastic one on field trips!” Miki asked her on the lunch break. “This one is not the kind of trip I like.” “Is it about location?” “Yeah, and I’m not really interested in broadcasting.” Alva gave the muffin a bite and pointed at a group of girls hanging around Mr. Richman, asking whether they could audition for a teen music program. “See? Those girls like masquerades.” Miki looked at her, puzzled. “Are you talking about what Mr. White said when we were in Studio 8?” Alva nodded.
“I remember,” Alva began her tale, “when I was in Grade 8, my class was invited to a TV show as the audience substitute.” “What TV show was it? Sounds interesting… “It was a sort of reality quiz show… or anything that sounds like it. My friends all thought it was real, and I did too… until at a shooting break I accidentally overheard voices from a room.”
# # #
May 10, 2011 - 1.33pm
No one else was at the corridor, only Alva. She stopped at a bench in front of the room where she heard voices and pretended to relax as she kept listening. Silence made it easier for curious young Alva to hear what the people said.
“Shall we do what we had planned?” A young man’s voice echoed. A woman’s voice answered, “Actually I don’t like to do this, but… it’s for the rating. And moreover…” “It looks better if we make these people win. I know this may make a bad image for those who understand how this should be.” An older man’s voice rose. Somehow, the voice reminded Alva of Darth Vader.
The Darth Vader-like voice continued, “Lassie, Gladys, and Lance will win, at any cost.” The woman’s voice asked, “Even if we have to sacrifice the real potentials?” “They’ll look better at the cameras when they go on the holiday we promise as the grand prize.” “Then, we’re continuing this scenario?” “Of course, there’s no turning back. We must finish with the planned winners.”
Alva was sitting still there, stunned from what they talked about. Out of the ten people, according to what she and her friends had seen from the entire series, Lassie only made it through by luck, Gladys was ‘not worth it’, and Lance was not even serious about the contest. “Hey, young lady, why are you sitting alone here?” Alva turned quickly and saw her heroine at that time: Rianna.
“Well, I’m just looking for some fresh air here…” “If you want fresh air, let’s walk outside. Looks like you’ll make a good contestant.”
Rianna took her for a walk from the building. “Hey, what’s your name?” “I’m Alva. And… how should I call you?” “You may call me Ann. That’s my nickname, but only few people use it.” “You’re such a great contestant,” Alva complimented. “Oh, not that good, Alva,” the sixteen-year-old answered, “I’m just giving it my best try. How old are you now?” “Twelve. And I’m in eighth grade,” “That’s good!” Rianna smiled with zeal. “Perhaps someday you’ll be part of this show as a contestant.” Alva gave her a big grin.
Then an announcement echoed from the intercom, shooting break was over. Rianna led her back to the studio. Alva was anxious, knowing the vile scenario of choosing people who only ‘look good on TV’ without any better qualification, and most of all, knowing that her heroine, Rianna, would lose due to that scenario.
# # #
April 12, 2014 - Lunch break
“Oh, that’s so bad, Alva.” “Ever since, I never trust TV industries too much anymore, Miki,” Alva sighed, “and when the shooting ended, Ann could only cry silently in disappointment, while the people in that scenario looked as if they were genuinely trying to comfort her. The next episode, I decided, would be the last time I ever attended a TV program shooting. I didn’t want to watch the finals anymore. And that was the last time I met Ann.” Miki closed her lunchbox and said, “Well, but I’m sure she’s got more chances coming after that tragic loss.” “Yes, she did.”
# # #
May 11, 2011 - 8.35am
On their last meeting, Alva tried to cheer Rianna up. “Ann,” Alva took out her camera, “Smile at me and this camera!” Ann turned and smiled, but her smile contained traces of sadness. “Ann, don’t cry. I believe you should have won, and maybe this is just not your chance… There are still more chances waiting for a person like you.” Alva grinned at her. “Thank you,” Rianna hugged her little friend and walked back to the waiting room.
# # #
August 21, 2011 - 9.21pm
The episodes had ended, the fake finale had been aired. And now, the 'winners' – people in the prepared scenario – were suddenly under the limelight, being exposed up close and personal. Several epilogue episodes featuring their grand prize trip around the globe aired, and when Alva accidentally saw it, she only watched it for less than three minutes.
She laughed at the ‘winners’ when one of them spoke out, and two seconds before she reached three minutes in front of the TV, she turned it off and walked away with a huff back to her bedroom.
# # #
April 12, 2014 - 12.44pm
“Mr. Richman, can we audition for the music program? Please…?”
I don’t know what to do. And I remember that girl over there. Three years ago, I saw her in the reality quiz show I produced. She refused to come and watch the finale. Did she know about the scenario? But no – it was supposed to be a secret… but could she…?
Now I don’t know what to do with these girls, except… looking at their faces and asking them personally, one by one, as we walk around the third floor. I think I had just seen several camera faces among this crowd of girls…
# # #
(based on the theme 'palsu', I made the sub-theme 'fake television world')