Wednesday, April 1, 2009

And that's how I made the local news, everyone

Better behind the camera than in front of it...

Yesterday, just when I was rushing from Suzhou’s university (HSK afternoon class) to grab a taxi and head to one of the Korean families whose kid I teach, a Chinese woman ran up to me and tapped me on my shoulder. Now, I am one of those people that scares extremely easily (ask anyone who knows me and they’ll give you an exaggerated nod, followed by a ‘yes, really, SHE DOES! You have to walk on eggshells around her!’) so this unexpected tap resulted in me screaming out loud like a pig. Poor Chinese girl looked more than terrified when I calmed down and apologized to her (they always do….).

-Eh…I just wanted to know if we can interview you for our TV program?! The girl said.

-TV program? I looked around and instantly spotted two Chinese men, one carrying a giant camera, on their way over to me.

-Eh, I am kind of in a hurry?! I said. By then the Chinese men were by my side and pushed the camera in my face.

-Sorry, I don’t have time, I said, this time in Chinese.

-Oh, she speaks Chinese, PEEEEERFECT!! One of the Chinese guys said, and the camera guy got even closer to me (not going to help dude?!?!).

-But really, I am running late, I should go. I said.

-Oh no no no, insisted the guy. You just answer one question. Very short. Very simple! OK, let’s do it!

-Well, what is it about?

The guy waved to the camera guy who backed down a little bit, did some adjustments, and obviously had the camera focusing on me.

-We are doing a program about people’s opinions about lesbians and gays! So what do you think? What’s you opinion about homosexuals?

A microphone was passed forward to me and the boy and the girl looked something between agog and excited. Even the camera guy mastered a smile.

-Eh… I…. ehhh… What do I think?! Well I don’t have any special opinion about homosexuals? They can like whoever they like, boy, girl, whatever, it doesn’t matter. It’s up to each one of us.

The three face expressions changed from excited to disappointed.

-Where are you from?


-In Sweden, what’s the attitude towards homosexuals?

Three new eager expressions appeared on their faces.

-Eh… same as I just told you. No special attitude… everyone likes who they want to like….and no one really cares….

Huge disappointment mirrored in their eyes. Gosh, what did they want me to say!?!?? That we hunt homosexuals with sticks in Sweden (because we don’t….)? Well, yeah, I guess they WERE in fact fishing for something more interesting than my mellow answer.

-OK then.. the guy said with a sigh. That will be it. Thanks.

Once the camera was turned off it was my turn to take advantage of the moment.

-So what channel are you from?

-Suzhou’s local news.

-Ah cool. Do you have any laowais working there?

They all started laughing.

-NOOOOOOO!!!!!! No laowais!

-I am currently looking for a job… maybe I will apply at your TV station… do you think it would be possible for me to work there even though I am a laowai? I can speak Chinese and I have a journalism degree.

Said the two guys.

-NOOOOOOO! Said the girl.

Name cards were exchanged before we said our goodbyes and I jumped into a taxi. On my way to the Korean family I thought of 8764386487 good comments I could have said… why is it always so, that once you have the chance you always get so nervous and often say something quite lame, rather than seizing the opportunity and actually say something rather smart? (maybe that’s just a ‘Jonna thing?!’). Anyways. The rest of the day went on quite normal and it wasn’t until 10pm when my boyfriend received a rather hysterical phone call that I was reminded of my lame, TV performance.

-You girlfriend is on TV, you girlfriend is on TV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was his company driver who was obviously watching the Suzhou local news. We had no chance to see it ourselves, and I am actually quite happy about that. Now I just wish, madly and deeply, that neither did any of my teachers!


Janet said...

"Gosh, what did they want me to say!?!?? That we hunt homosexuals with sticks in Sweden" - LOL

Kosmo said...

Cool - you're a celebrity!

Maybe someone else gave them the polarizing answers they were fishing for :)

I'm surprised they used the footage, if they were so disappointed in your response.

养蜂猴 said...

it is interesting, wish you get a position from the TV program of Suzhou.

Incognito said...


˙sǝıʇıunʇɹoddo ǝɥʇ ǝzıǝs oʇ ǝsoɥɔ noʎ ʇɐɥʇ pɐlƃ ɯɐ ı 'sǝsıɹdɹns ɟo llnɟ pǝǝpuı sı ǝɟıl

Rambler said...

Ha ha. I hope you can get a good job Jonna.

My roommate is a lesbian, and one of the other guy teachers is gay. I've never really cared, but back in West Virginia it was fairly looked down upon.

As far as for in China, all I can say is that it makes drinking games at our parties a lot more interesting.

Chen1 said...

What fancy words you had in mind for the interview Jonna? I thought you were doing great. The media will never be satisfied with normal answers. They want breaking news and dramatic occasions. Probably, they were secretly hoping you were a lesbian. Laowai lesbian talking about homosexuality, now that's big news.

As for some comments about the TV crew is fishing for polarizing answers, I say go for it, learn from the free media from the west. Unfortunately, they are not quite there yet since they used the footage anyway.

ktown2hk said...

Hey - I've been on TV in China 3 times now - apparently once in Beijing but never seen any of them. The 1st time was in my house and I didn't know they were coming to do it and I tell you I was NOT dressed well for the occasion - some things it's better not to see! How does it feel to be famous?

mantse said...

i am very interested on which "sound bites" they used from your short response?

or you can get a job in a Local TV station

flyingfish said...

Damn, if they wanted bloodspitting intolerance, what were they thinking asking someone from the civilized world? They should have asked an American. Isn't Massachusetts like the only state in which gays can legally marry?

Anonymous said...

Haha, an April Fools' joke, it is so obvious...

Mark's Blog said...


actully I m thinking if they want you to say things like "I am homosexual"

or something like that

Michelle said...

i'd like to see that part of that show lol

but you should really go after that job. And about being nervous when you have a oppertunity to speak, you're not alone. When I said a bunch of lame things I always think it over and come up with some better things

but thats never happening before i need to speak

Anonymous said...

"-YEEEEES! Said the two guys.

-NOOOOOOO! Said the girl."


In a blatant attempt to beat the "Jonna's-famous-now-so-let's-check-out-her-blog rush and scrutiny, I shall be incredibly polite and politically correct from now on, so as not to attract any undue negative attention to myself when they read the comments :)

Good luck with your tv career in CN.

Today Suzhou.

Tomorrow, the World!


Jonna Wibelius said...

Gigwriter - :)

Casual observer -a celeb because of my 1 minute at the Suzhou local news... naaaah! Although today when I ordered a coffee at Starbucks the lady behind the counter started giggling, before she said: 'I saw you yesterday on the news!' now that's something people don't tell me on an every day basis?! :) (later the same day my ayi said the same thing.. weird!)

I'm also surprised they used it but I sps they couldn't find any other Blondie to interview?

养蜂猴 -I don't thin it is that easy but worth trying!

Incognito -I have no idea how u did that....

Tripfriend -I did some casual work at a gay bar back home in Swe when I was 18... it was the best fun ever!!

Chen1 -u r right... of course. I am master of the whole 'ahhh I should have said that and that' -thinking that always comes to you afterwards...

ktown -well done! Very flattered to have such a 'celeb' posting a comment on my blog! ;)

mantse -I think we'll never know... which is a good thing!! :)

flyingfish -I guess next time they bump into a laowai and hear that s/he is from Sweden they won't go through with it... Us swedes are too 'lagom' (no good translation for that word... it is like.. 'in between')

anonymous -hehe, u think so??! I didn't even realise it is April 1 until u pointed it out!

Mark -yeah, I bet that would have triggered some long faces!

treasurecase -ahhhh thanks for telling me that... Now i feel more normal, knowing that I am not the only one who always thinks like that.

Adrian -hahahaha, you are always so funny! Yeah, u start in SZ and u can get anywhere in this world... ;)

longpants said...

As a guy it would have been a turn on if she was attractive, and two crawling around together would have been better " Boing" :) lol

Anonymous said...

Sweden just passed a law legalizing gay marriages today. It will be effective starting May 1st.

Brad Farless said...

Well, Jonna, at least you didn't freeze up too bad and say something stupid, like that one woman who played "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" on US television and said that an elephant is bigger than the moon.

They were probably fishing for something controversial so their story would pull more ratings. They probably assumed you were an American. Americans seem to have a knack for embarrassing themselves internationally, like that ass clown that spray painted a car in Singapore and then thought he would get away with it just because of where he's from. They caned him good!

By the way, I bought a pack of matches today because I forgot my lighter. I looked at the box and it reminded me of you. It says:

"Sakerhets Tanderstickor, Paraffinerade, Manufactured At Uddevalla Tandsticksfabrik, Sweden."

Oh, and best of all, they were only 10 Singapore cents (0.05 EUR).

Kosmo said...

Flying Fish: As an American, I'd like to say that I'm offended by your comment ... but I'm can't. Sadly, I must agree with you.

I must be "lagom" too :) Either that, or I'm too lazy to build up an intolerance :)

Diane said...

Incognito-how did you make your comment post upside-down? I wanna know how to do that, too.

Johnna-I haven't been on tv, but I've been in the newspaper, and I can tell you that here they write what makes good copy, not necessarily the whole truth.

flyingfish said...

@ Casual Observer: Sorry to have almost offended you :) I'm an American as well. Let me offer you this comfort (in case you're still feeling bummed out about "this our tott'ring state"): many of the most high-minded, tolerant, pluralist, "at-least-we-can-help-make-the-world safe-for-diversity," thoroughly CIVILIZED people I have ever met or known about have been American. How about you?

Mark's Blog said...


Hey, for "lagom", I found I m also a little bit

maybe you can translate it into Chinese, something like 中庸

The Candid Yank said...

hahahahahahahahaha!!!! the visuals created by your telling of the stories are hilarious, I really did laugh out loud. Too funny!! Picturing them wanting your time so badly that they talked you into it, and then were disappointed when you didn't want to hunt down gays with sticks!! LOL!

Hans Li Engnell said...

You should have told them that the Swedish parliament just the other day passed a law that allows gay and lesbian couples to marry each other. :-)

Kosmo said...

@ FlyingFish - Today, my state (Iowa) began allowing gay marriage, as the state supreme court struck down a ban. That's a big precedent, as we're the only state outside of the northeast (Conn and Mass) allowing gay marriage. The GOP legislators are very upset, and the DEM legislators are happy. GOP wants the citizens to pass an amendement to the state consitution, but it would first have to pass in the state legislature in two different sessions. DEMs are currently in power in the state legislature, so that seems unlikely to occur in the near future.

I don't even know any gay people (well, none that are publicly gay, anyway) but I'm very glad to see this decision by the court. I hate having the government intervene in such a private matter.