Tuesday, August 09, 2005

"Going Tribal" on the Discovery Channel - the most racist show on television?

Someone posted a heads-up to the H-Africa discussion list about a program that is premiering tonight, called Going Tribal. It looks like an absolute train wreck. It turns out they have a discussion forum that doesn't yet have any posts.

Now it does:

From the looks of the "Going Tribal" website, this may well be the most bigoted, condescending, racist show on television. The premise seems to be: brave white man meets dark wild savages, and spears fly!

I'm glad that I don't get the Discovery Channel on my cable system, or I might feel compelled to watch this in order to see just how horrible it is. Kind of like the stairway in the building where I work - there is a dead bird that crashed into the window by the stairwell, and now tweety is decomposing on a ledge, and every time I go to another floor my eyes are drawn to the gory spectacle. I often respect the programs the Discovery Channel airs, but this looks to be the lowest of the low.

I write this as an anthropologist who has lived and worked in a remote part of Africa for many years. I was most recently at my home there one month ago. The sensationalistic promos on this website give the impression of primitives as they only exist in Hollywood's imagination - and I fear that the programs themselves will be carefully edited to fulfill that imaginary view of distant peoples.

(By the way - when I posted my comment, their website already knew my standard discussion board user name. I assume that I logged onto some other affiliated website sometime in the past, and that my browser was cookied, but it was just a little creepy.)

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are very narrowminded. This show is incredible. Discovery Channel has excelled in airing this program. Too bad you don't have Discovery...you might just find out how wrong you are. From a Discovery Channel and Bruce Parry fan.

1:34 AM  
Blogger Pen Ultimate said...

We just started getting Discovery on our system last week. If I do end up seeing the show, I'll write more about it. Meanwhile, the discussion forum at the show's website has had some excellent commentary by anthropologists and others who have seen the program and - the discussion website is linked from my original post.

8:54 AM  
Blogger universally speaking said...

I must agree that the promos for this Discovery Channel show were revolting. It's almost as though the ads took together all the stereotypes that 'savage tribes' in Africa/less developed parts of the world have been cast into and rolled them up into one nasty little ball of primetime 'informative' entertainment. If the show is anything like what was contained in those promotional spots, then it's a major faliure in the Discovery Channel's reputation of showing intelligent programming.

8:48 PM  
Anonymous High Praises said...

First of all, if anyone should be offended it would be me since i'm of African descendant. The promos are a bit "sensational" but the show itself has its virtues. In my opinion the show is "exemplary" in its format. I have the utmost veneration for Bruce Parry. He doesn't go to these places and treat the indigenous people as if he is supercillious, but rather with reverence and a humbleness that he shows with great "sincerity". Bruce Parry embraces and immerses himself with every culture he is exposed to without being judgemental or exploitive in his words or actions. He seems to leave each experience with much respect for the people that have invited him and on both sides they seemed enriched from the experience. He gives you a sense that what he is experiencing is a "Privilege" for him, and you can't help but see the compassion,and the relationship that is built between him and the people that have welcomed and adopted him during his time there. I'm not in the editors room to see what is being left out, but what they have revealed is a very interesting look into cultures that we (layman) would not even be aware exist. He seems to have a innate passion for people and a love for learning about different cultures. He approaches each people with a humbleness and respect. I find the program educational, and most importantly, it has humbled me as a black person that this man can go to places and just want to live amongst different people and just learn and experience. I think the show is "excellent" and I have nothing but veneration for Bruce Parry. Would love to meet him some day!

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smoke some weed and watch the show,. it's a blast. Primal

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Discovery channel is indeed a very racist channel, you can see it in animal planet, all the people that neglect animals are African American or Latinos and all the animal savers are white, not including that all the veterinarian are white too. And the few white people caught neglecting animals just received a warning or advice, no one get arrested or fine.

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand why you may think that about the series - but it may interest you to know that it was a colaberation between the discovery channel and the BBC. The show is aired here in the UK primarily on the BBC, the Discovery version is aired first in the US - the shows are not edited the same way.
I suggest you watch the BBC version
Gav

5:18 PM  
Blogger Mr said...

To say that they are edited differently is a tremendous understatement. The BBC version is much more like a documentary, and takes a soft and entertaining tone. The American version is obnoxiously edited with harsh sinister music, false scares, emphasis on the violence, etc. It's really quite ridiculous. I watched season one of the BBC version, and then accidentally got Season 2 of the Discovery Channel's version. Needless to say, I realized my mistake almost instantly, as it didn't even remotely have the same tone. When I got the BBC version of Season 2 it was amazing to me how much better the episodes are than the US version.

9:51 PM  
Blogger rach said...

I love this show and Bruce Parry! He goes to these people and places with the upmost respect for their cultures and ways of living. He goes there willing to learn about their way of life, their customs etc and educates us on the way. If there were more people like him in the world we would be alot more understanding and patient with one another. I absolutely applaude him!!

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruce is very very humble. He lives with the tribes, learns from them, partakes in their rituals and is VERY respectful during all of it. I haven't seen the promos for the show, but if you actually watch the show, you'll see that Bruce effects the people he comes in contact with. Many times at the end of the episode the people he lived with can be seen crying (Lost Island of Antau) or saying they will never forget him (Bume tribe, Suri tribe, 'Cannibal' tribe..cant remember their name). The show is very educational and is humbling to the modern man.

11:53 PM  

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