The Fine Art of the Sucker Punch

Remember how our Society sucker punched the Hutterites of Montana’s King Ranch Colony?

If so, this story (from the Homer Tribune in Alaska) will seem like deja vu all over again:


Lisa Blake (via IMDB)

Lisa Blake (via IMDB)

Executive Producer Lisa Blake has a long history of making shows with “gravitas.” Here are some highlights from her website:

… As the entertainment news producer for FOX’s national morning news show, Good Day Live, and the Emmy winning Good Day LA, she produced and directed live and live-to-tape segments exploring Hollywood Behind the Scenes and covering weekly red carpet events and feature film premieres. During her three years at FOX News Lisa worked with such luminaries as Brad Pitt, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jim Carrey, Halle Berry, Jack Nicholson and Robin Williams, among countless others. …

Lisa was the supervising producer on FOX’s Reality Remix, and a producer on reality shows Mr. Personality for FOX, ABC’s Are You Hot? and E!’s Style Star. … 

And why do Lisa Blake’s promises to Alaska’s Old Believers ring a little hollow? Hmmm… maybe because she seems to be reading from the same playbook as did Jeff Collins, who produced Meet The Hutterites:

{ Listen to the whole interview here. }

Sucker punching small groups of people,
and then humiliating them on international TV,
is one way to make a buck.

The trick, though, is to keep moving…
and get out of town before the locals figure out
who you really are. 

Montana… Alaska… New York City
and onward our Society goes, hoping that the truth
won’t catch up with us. 

(It’s a lot like The Ali G Show.
Except Ali G punked the rich & powerful,
not the powerless.) 

Eventually, Murdoch & His Boyz
will pocket their money and move on…
leaving the National Geographic brand
damaged beyond repair.  

Dear John,
Are you still out there?


  • Guest

    LOL…I especially love the fact that they want families with “big personalities.” That translates to brash, brawdy, foul-mouthed people. Classy.

  • Onlooker

    I originally hail from one of the villages this “docu-series” is targeting and am seriously concerned about the negative results this show is likely to produce. The communities are VERY conscious of their privacy and value isolation – one of the reasons why Alaska was settled to begin with.

    I’ll be warning my relatives about this series however have little doubt the show will have trouble finding some “big personalities” and episodes will likely devolve into a caricature that will stereotype and make a mockery of the Old Believer Russian communities. Which, upon further thought, is why reality television is popular to begin with.

    • If the Old Believers really value privacy and isolation, then starring in a National Geographic TV series is certainly the wrong way to go.

      And when you say that reality TV is popular because it’s about caricatures and mockery — you’re absolutely right. I’d like to believe that this TV series about Old Believers will break the mold, but thus far I’m not convinced.

      Thanks for stopping by, Onlooker, and for your comment.

  • Dean Cully

    This is my response to the Homer Tribune’s “National Geographic gets Cold Reception from Old Believers” story:

    The National Geographic Channel in the USA is a joint venture between National Geographic Television and Film, and Fox Cable Networks (according to Wikipedia).

    This is rather telling, considering my involvement with their production of “Alaska Wingmen” (notwithstanding the featured pilots who happened to be women… but who cares? Clichè rules the day) during the summer of 2010, wherein they seriously missed the point on how a Learjet flight crew (consisting of 2 pilots) works together for the safe and efficient operation of the airplane. In the end, considering how ridiculously they created high drama out of routine operations, I’m glad that my presence was shrouded in anonymity and almost completely ignored as the copilot of the featured air ambulance Learjet, saving me embarassment.

    It was clear that the producers were far more interested in personalities than in accuracy or documentary and educational portrayal, two concepts that are not antithetical to entertainment, as demonstrated by National Geographic television specials of yore. Of course, this is to be expected nowadays if a program is to attract shortened attention spans and advertising revenue, but the lack of attention to reality was not necessary–indeed, it missed a significant element of the human story they were presumably attempting to convey; that is, people working together as a team in a complex and demanding endeavor–instead, becoming a lazy, sadly hilarious but forgettable manufactured drama.

    What once was an assurance of documentary quality, the National Geographic imprimatur, is now little more than a brand name roulette wheel of “Reality”-TV production values; to the Old Believers I say, if you think you’re feeling lucky, let them in and hope you get a thoughtful and accurate portrayal, but the odds of getting something on the order of “Amish Mafia” or some other sensational pseudo-educational treatment from the sausage factory of television fare are considerable.

    The production teams employed to manufacture these TVee shows under the “NatGeo” logo/brand are simply mercenaries for commericalism. It is clear that the National Geographic brand is no longer any more meaningful on television compared to the several other “info-tainment” brands. The “Discovery” Channel’s (I think it was) competing Alaska aviation show at the time (and on-going, I believe–I don’t watch much television anymore for obvious reasons) was somewhat better, even, though heavily flawed as nearly all portrayals of aviation are in the lay media.

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