Thursday, June 5, 2008


In case you were wondering what you would watch this summer, I have it for you.
"True TV" actually made a reality show where crews compete to find oil.

" From the creator of "Ice Road Truckers" and "Deadliest Catch" comes a one-of-a-kind series about Texas oil men who gamble everything for a chance to strike it rich. Wildcatters risk their life savings and roughnecks risk their lives. Black Gold takes you inside the action as the race for oil heats up."

I find this so disturbing.

For one thing, running oil rigs is really dangerous -- so if anyone thought Survivor was sporting with disaster... while I'm quite sure they film this all before it happens to make sure no one gets really hurt, when I talked to Michael, my oil man friend, he said this was one of the most dangerous jobs -- "people don't die very often," he said "but people lose fingers all the time."

One has to assume, though, that the point of this show is not to make people think that they should use less oil because of the risk and and the danger to the people working on the rigs -- fingers aside there are 36 hour shifts and fumes being away from families...

The fallacy of "real TV" makes me queasy. People behave differently in front of a camera, and there are certain things that should be taken more seriously.

Can you recall the emblematic photo of the NVA officer shooting a soldier in the mud of Viet Nam? Robert Capa took that photo -- and I believe the story was that the shooting took place for the camera. Capa used to say, if your photo isn't good enough your not close enough.

But at least war photography has at its core the effort to stop war -- to save humanity by exposing the distortions of war.

The idea that we romanticize and justify the things people do to themselves --
the fact that we still romanticize the high risks high stakes money of oil --
the fact that we find misfortune, stupidity and real danger entertainment...

all this makes me want to throw away my TV.

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