Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reality TV

I heard this great story the other day that my reality TV friends can appreciate. My friend Marc's wife was called by her friend to shoot an episode for a reality TV show. Her friend is a hairdresser in Hanoi and the TV show wanted to do an episode about her as an up-and-coming hairdresser. My friend's wife was going to be the client who the hairdresser styled that day.

On the day of the shooting my friend's wife went to the salon and met the film crew. It was a small crew but enough to get the job done. At the end of the shooting the producer said to the hairdresser that if he wanted the episode aired he would have to slip him some money. The producer wanted 5,000,000 dong (almost $300).

To us non Vietnamese this sounds absurd and an obvious case of bribery. However, in Vietnam many transactions like this take place. You get pulled over for running a red? Slip the cop 100,000. Want to keep your bar open past the midnight curfew? Hand the police a couple bills.

In the end the hairdresser coughed up the money and was given a phone number to call if she had any questions about the episode. That night the hairdresser called the phone number. It wasn't a real number. The whole thing had been a set-up.