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Willing victims put through wringer in most outrageous talent challenge

/ 02:03 AM March 22, 2013

SOME of the stunts “Killer Karaoke” contestants perform while singing include (from left): Getting dunked into a giant aquarium filled with ice-cold water and snakes KENLEVINE.BLOGSPOT.COM0

Question: What’s the most outrageous “talent” challenge on TV these days? Definitive answer: “Killer Karaoke,” telecast here at 7 p.m. on Monday on the Fox channel.

The new show beats the competition by a wide margin due to the crazy things it makes its contestants do, while trying to sing a song from start to finish!

Clearly, great singing ability isn’t what the show is looking for. Rather, it favors contestants who are willing to be made fun of, harassed, terrified, and even hurt, just to remain in contention for each week’s top prize of $10,000 for—no, not the best talent, but the scrappiest and most masochistic survivor!


Last week, for instance, the first contestant was dunked into a giant aquarium filled with ice-cold water—and snakes! The next “willing victim” had to endure electric jolts as he vainly tried to serve a meal without breaking any dishes. (He ended up breaking everything!) After him, a young woman shared a trick suit with a guy who manipulated her like a rag doll or puppet—and even slapped her face with a dead fish! Other “contestants” had to run through a field of really prickly cacti, have all of their body hair chemically stripped off their skin, and made to step on all sorts of nasty creatures!

Since the “willing victims” didn’t know what they were in for (surprise!), their shocked and pained reactions were… all too real.

Enduring electric jolts while trying to serve a meal without breaking a single plate (the contestant broke everything) photo: WORKINGAUTHOR.COM

Instead of sympathizing with them, however, studio audience laughed and jeered at their misery, behaving for all the world like the sadist at the Roman Colosseum in Nero’s time, or the audience at a bloody Grand Guignol performance.

This is the sort of “get the guests” show you expect to see on Japanese TV, where they like to subject foreigners to all sorts of undignified and outrageous challenges that demean them, even as viewers screech in demented laughter and have a great, “counter-colonial” time!

But, to see the sadistic format transplanted to a US game show is both a shock and a caution. We know where the “crazy” program is coming from, and the quirky predilections of the adolescent, tween and teen audience it’s targeting.

Sticking one’s head inside a glass box with a skunk. photo: WORKINGAUTHOR.COM

Yes, it’s all for laughs and sadistic fun-and-games, but some of its challenges are still too vicious and painful to be countenanced even if the contestants have given the show their “permission” to do its worst and treat them as sub-humans—and veritable giant pincushions!

Can the show be duplicated on Philippine TV? We recall a similar program some seasons back (ABS-CBN’s “Twist and Shout”), in which singers were dunked, shoved around and otherwise made vicious fun of. But, the “punishment” inflicted on them was much milder than the rough tactics and treatment on “Killer Karaoke.”

Certainly, no Pinoy contestant had to undergo a painful depilatory procedure on his hair chest, legs and armpits (ouch!), just to remain in contention for the chilling challenge’s top prize! Even on Japanese TV, the game shows we’ve watched may be outrageous and humiliating, but “Killer Karaoke” is still in a “class” of its own. Faint-hearted contestants and viewers, consider yourselves forewarned—so, resist and desist!


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