Putting the “real” back into reality

Alaska is a hot commodity right now. And not for the reasons you might think like oil, natural gas and renewable resources. Nope. It’s all about reality television, or at least Hollywood’s version of reality which of course is not very real at all. Ok, I’ll stop using the word real.

Anyhoo, I will admit it. I like to watch some of these shows. From the outset I thought that it would be a great way for people “Outside”, as we like to call the rest of the U.S., to learn something about this amazing State. Silly me. Lately I have found myself yelling at the TV.

Case in point. We were watching Mountain Men. It’s a History Channel production that focuses on three men. Eustace – a hippy kind of dude in North Carolina who has 1,000 acres he calls Turtle Island. Tom – a grandfather type with bad knees and an ill-trained dog named Ellie that is constantly running off into their Montana wilderness. And Marty – trapper guy who actually lives only about 9 miles from me but the show would have you believe he lives in the middle of the wilderness. Nope, he lives on the edge of an eccentric rural community called Two Rivers where sled dogs outnumber people.

In last night’s show Eustace got notice that his land was going to be taken away. At first I thought maybe for unpaid property taxes but then the amount was revealed – $65,000 (if I remember right….I had a couple glasses of wine into me by then). Apparently the IRS is behind the lien. Meanies.

So what does Eustace do? Well he cuts a trail through his property, a short cut, and then he and his buddy ride horses to the courthouse. One horse is so swaybacked it was painful to watch it be ridden and the other, the one Eustace was riding, was green to cars, trucks, people – basically the city. Oh yes and he put steel shoes on the creature which of course helps with traction on concrete – not. Then they ride in rush hour traffic.

I’m not sure why Eustace didn’t just have a friend drive him to town. Would have made more sense really. Ah, but there’s the rub. Seeing Eustace in a vehicle wouldn’t make for good television.

Then there was Tom. He and a friend went antler hunting, with Ellie, in bear country, without a gun. Oh but they had pepper spray. The entire series has focused on a grizzly bear running a muck on Tom’s property – even going so far as to break into his pigeon coop. So what does he do? Why head into the woods with the dog and some pepper spray. Maybe if they saw a bear he’d use the spray on the dog and then run like hell.

After a day of looking for antlers they get back to the truck. It doesn’t start. They open the hood and wiggle some wires. Still won’t start. My money is on one of the camera men turning the headlights on while they were in the woods. Anyway, Tom’s buddy goes for a moonlight hike to the main road armed with, you guessed it, pepper spray. Tom builds a fire and then his buddy and a truck show up and they get to go home.

But wait, there is more. At home the grizzly shows up and Tom has had enough. He loads a .410 shotgun and I wonder why he’s going grouse hunting when there is a grizzly bear trying to eat his pigeons. Maybe he’s going to kill the birds? Tom fires in the direction of the bear and it runs away. I bet it comes back.

Last but not least is Marty. He didn’t have much luck trapping this season – $4,000 worth of fur. Probably because the camera crew kept asking him to bury his snowmachine in drifts, or loose his glasses in the snow, or walk 10 miles to his cabin after his machine supposedly breaks down or check traps first with his rifle and toboggan and then suddenly without. One blog about this show wondered if the camera guy would give Marty his rifle back if they ran into the man-eating wolves that were, um, stalking them.

Marty and his wife Dominique and little girl Noah fly out somewhere to go caribou hunting. They need meat for the winter and Marty says that they haven’t had store bought meat in something like 25 years. I suppose that’s possible. It’s certainly better for you. What about veggies? Coffee? Toilet paper? I assume they go to the Fred Meyer’s in town.

Both of them get their caribou which was great. And I practically cheered when they taught their little one how to skin out the animal and harvest the meat. Now that is a strong heritage to be passing on and I commend them for it.

But alas, Marty needs more meat. So he flies 5 hours in his plane to his favorite hunting ground to get a Dall sheep. Dressed out the animal will give them 100 or so lbs of meat. I was wondering if  his need for more meat was so great why didn’t he get a moose tag and then hunt right around here like the rest of us? We have moose walking through our yard all the time. I don’t think it’s fair to take one from my back porch but I can hunt just a few miles away. The sheep hunt happened because he got lucky in the lottery and drew a permit. Good for him but it wasn’t a necessity.

But that’s the thing about this “reality” tv – it just isn’t real.

Darrel – my mountain man. Apparently not concerned about cholesterol!


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2 Responses to Putting the “real” back into reality

  1. afoster2007 says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I can’t watch the show anymore, it’s entirely too irritating. Marty’s wife taught my son’s kindergarten class, they are certainly not hermits in the middle of nowhere. Thanks for expressing what I’m sure many “real” ruralites feel! 🙂 –Amanda

  2. bigjoecat says:

    Oh so true you drove that nail in with one blow. All these so called reality programs are mostly all staged to make a TV show. The people are real but without the cameras things would be very different. Maybe that’s why the Kilcher’s were only on for one season they didn’t want all the made up drama. I liked your comment on Marty’s toboggan first he has it in tow, next scene gone, than next scene its back. Their editing is not so good.

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