Can you hear Rupert laughing?

As you watch this show‘s trailer (below), just remember: You’re not watching pole dancers and people having casual sex; you’re watching a history documentary about parties with pole dancers and people having casual sex. On the National Geographic Channel.

Which means there’s no need to flinch when your kids run into the room. Our Society’s good name — and that little yellow rectangle in the bottom right corner of your TV screen — have your back. Your reputation is still intact even though you’re planted in front of the tube to watch “The Greatest Decadence in History.”

So don’t let anyone make you feel like a lecherous lurker. Instead, think of yourself as an armchair historian.


UPDATE: 8 February 2012 @ 9:30pm

After this post went live last night, we had a major spike in traffic here at Society Matters. But earlier today, the video trailer (embedded above) that had been hosted at Vimeo disappeared, which is why you see the “does not exist” screen. Then, we noticed that Edge West, the company that produced this “documentary,” had temporarily shut down its website. When came back online a few hours later, the sex-orgy-and-pole-dancing trailer had been replaced with one about ancient feasts, and the site’s main splash screen had been redesigned: the biggest photo — of that orgiastic tangle of young bodies (top) — had vanished; the series tag line (“The Greatest Decadence in History. And you’re on the VIP Guest List!”) had been deleted; gone, too, was the National Geographic logo. 

Evidently, the folks at Edge West had second thoughts. The web being the web, though, there’s really no erasing it all. Here’s the opening gallery on the Edge West website BEFORE it got scrubbed:

Here it is AFTER:

And here again is the original video trailer which was digitally resurrected by our expert team of software engineers:    

We’ve re-posted this trailer because it reveals the on-going tension between News Corp, which is the majority owner of the Channel, and National Geographic, the minority partner whose good name is at stake. These two companies have fundamentally different goals and values. Watching this trailer, and then watching the online gymnastics to remove the original material, well… the fractures are obvious. You can almost see series producer & Edge West owner Philip Day struggling to serve two very different masters: one that touts its educational mission “to inspire people to care about the planet,” and the other that’s hijacked that mission so they can sell advertising in between the pole dancers and sex orgies.

This isn’t a surprise, of course; pole dancers & orgies are, and always have been, the News Corp M.O.

What prompted today’s online makeover? As soon as this update goes live, we’ll email Philip Day and try to find out.  

Now, back to our original post….


One word of warning, though: We can’t provide cover for you much longer. Soon, the pole dancers & sex addicts & prison shows & Nazis & the all rest (see video, below) will be considered an accurate reflection of the National Geographic brand. People will know us, and judge us, by our actions.

Long term, that’s horrible news for our Society — and our society. But short term? Someone is laughing all the way to the bank.

(Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is the majority owner
of the National Geographic Channel.)

  • Keith

    Well, how did Mr. Murdoch come to be majority stakeholder of National Geographic Channel? Because somebody accepted his money and his terms. 

    The problem is, it doesn’t just color the reputation of the Channel, of course, but of the Society as a whole. Sad, perhaps, but it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. 

    • Keith – I couldn’t have said it better myself. Yes, NGS accepted Mr. Murdoch’s terms, and what’s happening should come as no real surprise. 

      But what’s been changing lately — and what will continue to change — is the technology. Specifically: When the Channel launched in 2001, TV, magazines, books, and the web all existed in parallel universes. You might get away producing tabloid shows for the Channel while you kept things respectable at the Magazine. But convergence — e.g., the iPad — means it’s all blending together in one digital space. So what seemed like clever brand diversification ten years ago — different strokes for different folks — is now a huge brand problem, or so I believe. Whose Society is it? Who will determine what sorts of standards NGS will embrace as its own? I’m not sure, but I do know this: Fox has sent their boys (David Lyle & Howard Owens) to NGS headquarters to protect Mr. Murdoch’s investment. I just hope someone at the Society has the guts — and the leverage — to push back. 

      Thanks for your comment, and for stopping by. 

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