Neighborly

Neighborly vidcap
I wasn’t sure I wanted to upload this video of a Japanese TV show I was featured on, because while there are some great shots of my bike and Stinger’s riding along the Shōnan coast, the voiceover makes me sound like an illiterate twit. Still, the reasons I sound like an idiot say some interesting things about how TV shows are filmed in Japan, so I figure I can make a post out of excuses for my goofy babbling.

This was back in 2001 when NTT Communications was looking for “international” types who were active on the web for Neighborly, their ad-disguised-as-a-TV-program. They stumbled upon the Gaijin Bikers site and decided an American biker in Japan with a website was a good way to show that hip international types needed the high-speed broadband they were pushing. Because they’re pushing the international angle, it was important to have me speaking English for the exotic atmosphere, but none of the film crew spoke English. They interviewed me in Japanese, I answered their questions in Japanese, and then they would say, “now say that again in English.” So the voiceover is me retranslating what I had just said in Japanese to a room full of blank faces who don’t understand a word I’m saying. Makes for a lot of random babbling and “uh, what was I talking about again?” moments. They then compounded the problem by making vague requests like “Say something positive about the Internet.”

Next they made it even worse by splicing together pieces of different sentences from the tape, so I end up having strange grammar and seriously weird intonation patterns (“I…enjoy my work.”), and then adding a chirpy singsong Japanese narration and Japanese subtitles that say what they wish I had said.

The video itself has its curious spots too. We’re drinking frackin’ Zima, since that was all they had at the hot dog stand the film crew had us stop at. The clip also features my cramped old apartment, my lifeless old office, and my hairless old head. But on the bright side it also features a bunch of my Japanese biker friends with their rides, and my wife still pregnant with our first daughter.

Hell, what am I complaining about? I was on TV in a feature that showed bikers in a positive light! So enough of my yakkin’. Here it is:

11 thoughts on “Neighborly”

  1. Yeah, one of the guys decided to buy drinks for everyone, and didn’t realize that Zima was alcoholic (and nasty).

    I’m not an absolutist about alcohol and riding—I’ll sometimes have a beer with lunch on the road—but I never intended to have us appear on national TV flagrantly breaking the law.

  2. They still make that zima crap? For God sakes! I’ll drink the hot dog water before that crap. Ben, I see Battlestar Galactica has rubbed off on you too with the you know what word.

  3. I wouldn’t have minded being filmed breaking the law, except that we were breaking it doing something lame. That video shoot was my first and last experience with the stuff.

    Thank the Lords of Kobol for BitTorrent!

  4. I didn’t think you sounded inarticulate at all, Big Ben. That takes several “and I like” & “Uhs” in order to be the case. The video, all in all, makes bikers seem like attractive, easy going people with a great camaraderie.

    & what a wonderful picture of you and Yuri at your wedding!

  5. I think the video is pretty good. As you say portraying bikers in a positive light. So as seen by one who knows no Japanese what so ever, you have nothing to be embarrassed about.

    Happy ridin’ mate.

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