Friday, September 5, 2008

MTV's "Exiled" Update: Seems we are riding a wave of sensibility

Its enough to restore your faith in America. No, not Sarah Palin (sorry, I just threw up a little in my mouth). In a completely unrelated surfing expedition, I noticed the 6th most emailed story on Newsweek's site was a story on Exiled. Seems that it was the "highest rated" reality show, so far, this year. And the viewing public (our teenage demographic) is pissed.

To quote the Newsweek piece:

But not only was the premier of "Exiled" the network's highest rated new reality show this year, some fans seem to be taking the program's message about privilege and abundance seriously. They are having conversations not typically seen on MTV's discussion boards about cultural stereotyping and Africa's international image. Who knew fans of the network that features endless hot-tub hookups are also worried about exploiting the Third World?
Seems the general public is more savvy and less gullible than we assumed. I am just going to keep quoting from the article, because, in the words of Paris Hilton, its so hot:

Sounds like a typical redemption story, but viewers didn't just watch for the satisfaction of seeing Amanda face down a pile of dung à la "Fear Factor"; they actually critiqued the network's politics. "MTV could have been much more responsible in picking a place for this girl to go," writes a viewer posting under the username PurpleReign. "They are just fulfilling stereotypes without showing a larger and more accurate representation of Africa. They showed Africa in a really negative light … It's offensive and rude and perpetuates the wrong ideas of Americans who know no better. And not even just Africa, but all underdeveloped nations are going to be represented this way on this show. It's sad."

There are, currently, 88 comments posted under Episode #1, both the episode and the comments can be accessed here. Many are as we expected, judgments which are America-centric, and many, quite correct, judgments on the parents. But mixed in with it are a few very strong, aware attacks on the network for the overall perspective of the show and some strong shout-outs for Josephine the admirable Maasai host of our bratty teenager. Newsweek may be slightly overstating the criticism, but, hey, that's alright with me, mama.

I am considering the idea of encouraging my students to blog their reactions. I have just started a campus-wide anthropology blog for them. Its open to all but not set to be pinged so I can keep out idle surfers. It could be a good discussion, especially since the interest is already there.

And, if you would like to keep riding the wave of righteous indignation, check out this story on Sociological Images. I am not sure you even need a story with those images. Its what our students call a WTF moment! How much did Cindy McCain's outfit that she wore last night cost? Guess, orphans are the new accessory. Cue up David Bowie's Fashion. Scary robotic ostentation-1; humanity-0. Need to run back to the anti-MTV bloggers, they are my people.


Heather said...

Hey, I saw your blog, I just did a post with the same idea. I think Exiled is one of those good ideas that goes horribly wrong. All it's doing is reinforcing stereotypes. Did you see the one where the "global studies major" sent to Thailand concludes in the end "I know now I'm not going to be the one in the field." Worthless candidate for such a major. Here's my post:

Pamthropologist said...

Hey Heather,

I am off to add a link to your blog. It looks great. It is funny how many of us are having the same reaction to the show. My students just commented, again, yesterday on the latest episode.