Monday, May 5, 2008

Blue Collar Reality TV

I have a confession to make.

I am addicted to a television show.

The show? Deadliest Catch.

I don’t know what it is about this particular Discovery Channel gem that has me hooked. The drama? The intrigue? The death-defying antics? The Bon Jovi theme song?

All I know is that I cannot get enough of Phil’s sailor talk on the Cornelia Marie, or Sig’s temper tantrums on the Northwestern. Even Jonathan’s antics aboard the Time Bandit crack me up.

Perhaps it is because I highly appreciate the “suck it up” mentality the men have for their work.

Dismal fishing and 80 pots to pull and stack? Well, suck it up and get the job done, Wussy.

Toothache bothering you and you can’t eat anything? Get out the pliers and play dentist.

Do something stupid and fall into the ocean without your survival suit? Well okay, that’s cause for some concern.

Who thought that watching a bunch of crab fisherman fish for crab would be a veritable gold mine for Nielsen ratings?

Hoping to cash in on this trend of blue-collar worker turned television documentary subject, the History Channel premiered a new show called “Ax Men” which depicts life in the logging industry.

I highly enjoy History Channel’s Ice Road Truckers (again, who knew watching men drive semis on ice would be entertaining) and figured Ax Men would be the next big thing. In hopes of finding a new addiction, I tuned in last night.

Turns out I was wrong.

After watching ten minutes of the uninterrupted clear clutting of majestic pines in the Pacific Northwest, I was visibly traumatized, and had to change the channel to ABC’s Brothers & Sisters (whereupon seeing Justin fight feelings for his sister Rebecca, traumatized me a little bit more…turns out their not biologically related. *whew).

With all the talk of Sustainability, Environmental Efficiency, Global Warming, Recycling, etc, it surprises me that The History Channel would take such a gamble with Ax Men.

Green is the new black, and I find it hard to believe that other viewers are not similarly put off by the rampant destruction of a pristine forest.

One of the advertisements for the show has a man interviewing that this show is real, and it portrays an industry that has been around for centuries. This, of course, is true, but the logging industry hasn’t always been operating in a society that is riding the wave toward Environmental Consciousness.

And while I’m sure there are over 1,000 ways to get killed on any given day working as a lumberjack, I somehow wish they still transported logs by floating them downriver. Now that would make for creative film techniques.

So I am not a fan of Ax Men, and will probably never tune in again as I do not wish to fight a wave of depression. I will stick with Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers as my blue-collar reality shows du jour.

My next foray will be National Geographic’s America’s Port. Stay tuned for a thorough review.

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