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Token White Guy: Science for Dummies

I have a degree in Molecular Biology. I worked in a C. Elegans worm evolution lab while I was graduating and I taught physics for two years before I came to China.

So, when Hunan Satellite TV called me to say, “Hey, we want you to be a celebrity guest on our new ‘Discovery-style’ science program.” I thought, “I'll kill! I know so much more than all these morons! It's the perfect show on the biggest network in China. Mega-stardom here I come.”

There was only one catch. Every successful show I've ever been on has been a success because I was an asshole: The producers, directors, bosses had some dumb idea. I told them (you know, basically), “Piss off, you're morons, I'm a genius, I know better.” And proceeded to do my own thing. They all get mad at first, but then they realise it’s better than what they were going to do. And then they pretend they thought of it themselves.

But this was Hunan Satellite TV, which, if you get regular gig, will make you a star to a billion people. And so, to be honest, I was intimidated. Could I still be awesome and at the same time take orders from them?

It was a disaster. They had horrible, ridiculous guests. Insane retards who came in talking about how the colour of your clothes changes the molecules of your body to make you happier. One woman talked about the “feng shui of fashion” saying it was not really about how you looked but how the clothes channelled your qi in other people's eyes. Another woman was teaching this exercise regimen where you clapped your hands (in different and super specific ways) in order to cure all kinds of diseases… or something. And I actually sat there and read the questions off the little slips of paper they had given me: “Wow, that's so interesting and profound. What colour is my qi?”

It was torture. I was boring.

After we finished the main show, they had me narrating some segment and I finally cracked. At the time it always seems really logical when I insult somebody. I think to myself, “I have to tell them, I have to tell them, that's the only way they'll respect me and know how frustrated I am and, and...” I wrap myself up in this weird, alternate universe logic. I said something like, “You guys don't know crap about anything. You don't know how to use me and your show is boring. The audience hates it and it'll get cancelled if you shoot it this way.”

So, the end result of this foray into Hunan Satellite TV was a guarantee that they would absolutely never, ever hire me again.

Hooray for me.

So when, a month ago, another TV station called me to shoot the same kind of science show, I was relieved because I thought I had another chance. And this time I would, you know, ‘be myself’ and ‘not be intimidated’ by anybody. Which would be easier this time because it was a much suckier station.


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