In Alaska, the Old Believers send our Society a message

National_Geographic_Old_Believers_cold_reception_Homer_TribuneRead the whole thing here.

This article raises a host of new questions:

  • How is it possible that two producers from National Geographic could begin work on a “docu-series” that’s almost identical to Meet The Hutterites, yet have no idea the series even exists? Given the controversy surrounding what happened last year in Montana, why didn’t the two producers say something like: Yes, of course we know about the Hutterite series. David Lyle, CEO of the National Geographic Channel, has insisted that all producers watch it, study it, and learn about what went wrong with that production. We have learned. And we stand before you tonight with a solemn pledge that as we produce this series about the Old Believers, we will not repeat the mistakes of the past.
  • Why did National Geographic producers tell the media to leave the meeting? If the “docu-series” is, in fact, a documentary, and there are no “reality” TV stunts awaiting the Old Believers, then why is it necessary to whisper behind closed doors? Why the secrecy? Why not relieve the community’s fears by opening up the doors and windows to let the sun shine in?
  • Does the National Geographic Channel think the painful legacy of Meet The Hutterites is going to simply fade away?

We’ll keep you posted.

  • Kathy Stahl

    These people need to know that the Society took a culture, the Hutterite culture, and totally ripped it to shreds with what THEY wanted to portray. It was a travesty and the Old Believers need to Run, run, run…..or at least somebody get to these people and help them deal with the disaster knocking at their door…..I know, I have witnessed first hand what The National Geograpic Society are capable of….it is disgusting.

    • Kathy – I’ve been told that this production is going to be different. That National Geographic Television – the TV production arm of the National Geographic Society — is producing this show for the National Geographic Channel (majority owned by News Corp). Whereas Meet The Hutterites was produced by the Channel for the Channel. The idea, I guess, is that the standards and quality control are different; that the Society adheres to higher standards than does the Channel. That this time, you can trust us.

      Consider me (very) skeptical.

      Thanks for your message… and for stopping by.

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  • Anthony Wurthmann

    We are a private community. Worldly thing are not welcomed in our lives. We find worldly ways sinfull. Please with all due respect, STAY AWAY.

    • Anthony – I hear your plea. But I’m afraid the National Geographic producers are not going to stay away. They will find willing participants, and carry on with the show. My hope is that it ends better than it did with the Hutterites.

  • Sophia

    I have just watched Nat Geo’s portrayal of Old Believers, as an Old Believer myself, I will let you know that majority of the community (with the exception of those 10 people that were in the film) didn’t want our lives on tv for all of the world to see. It also looked like that the village of Nikolaevsk
    wasn’t too thrilled with Nat Geo coming in and filming them as well because I’m
    pretty sure that the village has more than 10 people in it. I
    guess I can say that I’m not surprised on Nat Geo’s portrayal of the Old
    believer Russian community, they have a knack of taking the worst out of religious communities that they have done documentaries on; The filming that were done on the Amish and Hutterian communities are great examples of Nat Geo extracting the worst out of communities that still have sacred religious practices. I hope that people realize that there are bad eggs in every community, and majority of the time the bad eggs are the ones that are always trying to get attention which in turn stereotypes everybody else that may have an association to them.

    • Sophia – Thanks for your message. And I’m sorry to hear about the Old Believers show. Earlier this year, when the producers arrived in Nikolaevsk to begin casting for the program, I was worried that the dramatic demands of reality TV would mean that the Old Believers would participate in creating a very public portrait of their community that they might one day regret. As you mention, the Hutterites are the most recent & most vivid example of what can go wrong on reality shows like this one. I get the sinking feeling that what can go wrong has gone wrong… yet again.

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