4 More Surreal Things that Happened in Spanish TV
Here we are again! It's part three of Spain's pop culture is pretty fucked up. This time you'll read about an award-winning writer who was nuts, people who might be aliens, and lots of cows. Because of course you will.
4. THE NOBEL PRIZE WINNER AND THE WATER BOWL
Camilo José Cela might be the most important Spanish literary figure of the 20th century. Nobel Prize Winner in 1989, and recipient of the greatest awards in spanish letters, the Cervantes, and the Príncipe de Asturias. Without a doubt a hugely remarkable figure in our post-Civil war literature, a pioneer and the author of two of the most essential works written in our language: The Family of Pascual Duarte, and The Hive, he was controversial for his political ideals, since he was proud of having fought in Franco’s side during the war, and his bigger than life, provocative persona, which probably didn’t help him make a lot of friends.
Also he could absorb 1.5 liters of water through his anus.
This happened on 1982, and Generalissimo Franco was still dead, most definitely. It was a TV program, probably live, hosted by Mercedes “I pee while I’m in the shower” Milá, who could earn her own entry pretty easily someday. The guest today, of course, was Cela. Click here for the video if you want it, although if you don’t know Spanish, you won’t understand a thing.
The first question was quite unusual for an interview: “What things do people say you've done, but you haven’t?”. To ask that right off the bat pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the guy. The fact that the first thing he comes up with is that “[he] didn't actually fart so loud in church that the priest had to interrupt his sermon” because like most Spaniards, he’s a home farter, not a public one.
I can’t confirm or deny that
Of course, he was just getting started. Next, he claimed he could... suck up 1.5 liters of water with his asshole, all at once. And he was willing to show how to almost forty million people. Just give him a bowl. The host, of course, cracks up. The following exchange is priceless:
Host: So, you get a bowl, with 1.5 liters of water and what do you do?
Cela: I do *gulping sound*
Host: You sit on it and you absorb it?
Cela: (Completely serious) Yes. (The host laughs her ass off). Not a lot of people can.
Host: Prepare a bowl immediately!
Cela: Water that’s not too cold, please.
Host: (Laughing) Without chlorine, right?
Cela: (Still with a deadpan snark) It doesn’t matter. My taste buds aren’t located in that particular place.
And that’s Cela in a nutshell. We could talk about that short story of his (which is NSFW) where some hillbilly releases an inordinate amount of sperm during a council meeting after being the recipient of a handjob. But that’s a different issue.
3. AN ALIEN'S QUEST FOR LOVE
I’ve already commented on our TV shows being bullshit, but now I’m going to deal with the cream of the crop: Mujeres y Hombres y Viceversa (Women and Men and Viceversa). It is, arguably, a dating show: in alternating weeks, two men and two women are wooed by a sizeable entourage of people that would shit on stage if that would get them on some tabloid cover.
To give you an idea of the kind of show this is, I just googled it for images and I got more boobs and abs than I will ever need in my life. Not a single image of the set or... just an image of clothed people, that’s all I ask for. Nothing.
So anyway, here’s Shakespeare.
So how does it work? You probably guessed it already. The “suitors” go on dates with the “thronists” (the people who are looking for their true love) and it all ends when the thronist is left with only one suitor and then they are together for a month or so until they come back to the show (and other shows in the same network) for more money.
It’s an easy living: you just have to be a mediocre actor and hump hot-but-not-terribly-hot people of the opposite gender and you can turn into a tabloid staple for months or even years. If you’re a woman, you can even show your boobs for money in some magazine, I've considered applying.
I could talk about this for a while. Seriously, at some point, they had a woman in the center of the set that did nothing but crocheting and occasionally commented. They had a porn actress acting as a “love advisor”.
Oscar Wilde was cool too.
But they've never had anything as batshit insane at this before.
That’s Avatar, a current suitor of I-don’t-give-a-shit-who. As you might have noticed, he’s wearing Na'vi makeup.
I wish I could understand the motives behind this decision: allegedly, he’s just wanted to play mysterious to win the heart of I-don’t-give-a-shit-who, but there has to be a better way. However, love is blind, they say, so maybe, if Avatar ends up getting the girl, that will bring hope to weirdos in need of affection like us. It’s almost poignant, his courage. Avatar, you wonderful hero, fight the good fight for us.
A model for all of us.
2. COWS: THE GAME SHOW
“Spain! Bullfighting! Fiesta!”, that’s all the tourists say. And they are right: it’s what we’re famous for. Animal cruelty and partying. At the same time? Even better! Which brings me to the next point.
El Grand Prix was a game show, in some way, in which two small towns competed with each other for some kind of prize, taking part in Takeshi’s Castle-style challenges. Of course, Takeshi’s Castle was Japanese. In Spain, we thought Japanese game shows were too soft, so we decided to throw a regional element to it.
You guessed it.
Every once in awhile, they just threw contestants inside a bullring and laughed at them as they tried to escape from a cow that weighed around 500 pounds. To make it even more fun, they also made the contestants wear some stupid costume to make it impossible to walk.
It’s true, the cows didn't really die in this show (at least that we know of). But isn't it crazy? Just... cattle chasing people and headbutting them to the ground. I would watch hours of that. And I did. Spain did.
El Grand Prix is one of the longest-running shows in our history (14 “seasons”). Do you know what the craziest part is, though? We didn't even invent it. But who? Who would be cruel enough to do that to those poor creatures, and the cows too? What sick, perverted mind would be capable of that.
Oh, of course, it was the French.
I kinda want to play this now.
1. A SWEET SCREW-UP
Oh, we love game shows. We’re pretty good at coming up with them, and when we aren't, we’re good at stealing them from other countries. Like “The Million Dollar Drop”, for instance.
You might not know the mechanics of this show, so I will explain: you’re given a million dollars. Unfortunately, you can’t take the money and run. Instead, you are asked a series of questions and given options: you have to put the money on a trapdoor with the correct answer. You can distribute the money however you want (you can’t put money on every option though), and at the end, the correct answer is revealed and the money that was wagered on incorrect answers is lost through the trap door. Easy enough?
Normally, the contestant play this game in pairs: they’re usually relatives or friends, so in case someone makes the wrong call, we expect the other one to forgive them pretty quickly, because their relationship is more important than some ridiculous amount of money.
That was not the case this time.
Our poor protagonist is called Mario, and didn't have a family member to help him: instead, the show paired him with second-rate celebrity and alleged actress Remedios Cervantes.
It’ll end in tears.
It was the final question, and Mario and Remedios were about to win €5000 if they answered the following question correctly: “which of these substances, when dissolved in water, is a good conductor of electricity?”, sugar and salt being the two options.
This is a good time for clarification: the celebrity is mostly there to help the contestant and won’t win any money, so they don’t really have much of a say in choosing final answers because... well, it’d be awkward if they chose wrong, right?
With a minute to go, both basically agreed on “salt” being the correct answer. So that’s where the money went. And that’s when the doubt strikes. Remedios starts saying stupid things because she isn’t that sure. In fact, with ten seconds left in the countdown, she says the sentence that would plague Mario’s nightmares forever: “sugar rings a bell to me”. The money is still on the “salt” trapdoor.
Mario says “you’ve been a great help, Remedios”, sarcastically.
And that, of course, is when Remedios runs to the money and without asking the contestant (who, remember, is the one who will take the money home) changes the final answer to sugar.
“It’s done”, she says.
From 0:35 to 1:41, more or less.
There’s a thing that gets me in that second when Mario’s dreams are crushed forever. It’s not him shouting “NO! NO!”. It’s the audience clapping. That has to be the saddest applause ever recorded. I can count four claps, at most, and I can explain none of them.
As you probably guessed already, the correct answer was salt. And Mario came back home empty handed.
The producers of the show, however, were kind enough to let him back, this time with a family member, and they ended up winning €15000.
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