What you need to know
The parody YouTube channel offers an important platform to highlight the humorous side of cross-Strait relations.
With all the grim news coming out of Chinese politics lately, it can be easy to forget that the cross-Strait situation is a little bit ridiculous. Fortunately, the parody TV station EYECTV – a sort of Republic of China (R.O.C.) The Onion – has spent years reminding Taiwan that geopolitical claims on both sides are inherently goofy.
The anchor – nicknamed Retina (陳子見) – reads news from a notional pan-Blue perspective, referring to China, Mongolia and Hong Kong as integral parts of the Republic of China, which is ruled from Taipei by Chinese president Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).
According to co-founder and occasional host, 28-year-old Ocular Nerve (何姍蓉), “We got the inspiration for this channel when we were in China in 2015; we saw CCTV [China Central Television, China’s state-run broadcaster] playing and thought it was pretty funny. We wanted to mimic it.” The channel’s Chinese name is a play on words with CCTV.
EyeCTV’s deadpan take on news includes the frequent use of maps that reflect the official territorial claims of the R.O.C. – areas still enshrined in the constitution as official territory –threatened by communist “red bandits.”
According to Ocular Nerve, “People get really angry in the comments section with every video we produce. Usually we just leave it to our fans to explain it to them, to tell them it’s not meant to be serious.”
Although their seriousness sometimes slips, their “channel” is fairly slick and professional. According to Ocular Nerve, “Retina had always wanted to be a television anchor since he was a little kid. He could say these things in a really serious way.”
Retina, 24, has used EYECTV as a platform to cross over into serious television; he will soon become a news anchor at non-parody Chinese Television System (中華電視公司), a subsidiary of state-run Taiwan Broadcasting System (台灣公共廣播電視集團). He will continue to do occasional reports for EyeCTV.
Taiwanese TV is notorious for making everything seem like a slow news day. Recent TV news reports include non-fatal car accidents, the danger of cooking in tents, in-depth analysis of old YouTube videos and printer ink cartridges exploding in the sun. Shirts were stained.
As mundane as it can be at times, Taiwan’s TV news, parody or not, is an important expression of Taiwan’s free press.
During a time when China is censoring any discussion of potential changes to its own constitution, EyeCTV is free to equally mock many of the breathless claims of the R.O.C. and refer to red bandit Xi Jinping as a little Pooh-bear rebel, all without incurring any retaliation from Chinese President Tsai Ing-wen.
Editor: David Green