My parents and I are big fans of Channel 7’s “Border Security“, a half-hour reality show shot mostly in and around Sydney International Airport focusing on the work of the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Departments.
It’s exactly how you’d imagine it and the usual themes are these:
- People smuggling in drugs in fanciful and creative, but ultimately flawed methods.
- Same goes for parcels and containers arriving into Australia containing prohibited and counterfeit goods.
- Visitors arriving in Australia under false pretenses or with fake documents.
- Not declaring commerical items to Customs, or food and other organic items to Quarantine.
The bulk of the offenders shown on the show though are people who break Custom and Quarantine laws. Just like how you’d see signs reading “Drug trafficking carries the death penalty” at most South-East Asian airports, there are big signs in Australian airports telling you to either dump all organic material at special bins or declare them if you are unsure. They say that ignorance is not an excuse, but it sure is entertaining.
Most of the people depicted are always shown being asked about the immigration card completed upon arrival, specifically about goods declaration, “Do you understand what you have entered in this form?” And all would always say yes and then the next scene would cut to the Custom and Quarantine officers pulling out food, plant or organic items from their luggage.
Then there are those who brazenly flout the laws by bringing in suitcases filled with just food or organic material, or commercial quantity of goods that are obviously not for private use.
It’s formulaic and we would see the same things being done by Australians and other nationalities repeatedly, but week in, week out we would tune in to watch it without fail. And I have a theory why: it’s fun to watch people mess up and get caught because it makes us feel better with ourselves. We like to think that we would never be that stupid, and we would never break the law. The show is a validation of our moral and intellectual superiority, a feel-good pill to be taken once a week.
Put it another way, the show is an equivalent of “sux to be you”.
Though I wonder if we laugh at other people’s misfortunes enough, is karma gonna be a real beeyotch and bite us in our ass when we least expect it? 😉