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Louisiana Lockdown – What is Angola Prison doing on Animal Planet TV?

Good ol' boys probably think it's mighty funny parading Angola's black prisoners across the teevee, at the whim of an all-white Reality TV corrections officer caste. Inmates are portrayed like the channel's animal kingdom predators, dangerous and unpredictable, but what misconduct is feared, the program doesn't dare tell. For being menacing recidivists, Angola's felons lead the life of choirboys apparently, no mention of the sexual slavery reported in a notorious memoir. What's the HIV transmission rate in Angola? No one's talking about racism. Was "Angola" named for its African population? We've already learned "The Farm" is an immense rural labor camp with a famous gladiatorial rodeo. Hopefully "Louisiana Lockdown" will disclose the reality side of its genre. Until then, the watchdog group most familiar with the mistreatment of Angola's inmates is the humane society.

Balloon boy, Osama Hunter, now… Crocodile Sitting…

From the "boy trapped in runaway balloon" but actually with full knowledge of his parents hiding in the garage, to Faulkner taking his Gweat Big Scawy Wifle to Pakistan 'cause on account of he was gonna shoot him a Rag-Head, wouldn't matter which one because even the U.S. Government doesn't have a real picture of him, he wuz jes' gonna pop a cap in some Sand-nigger... and now, Man bitten while attempting to sit on a crocodile... Some people will do anything to try to force their 15 minutes. According to the story, the 36 year old Australian man was ejected from a pub for "being too drunk" SAYYYYY WHUT? Somebody tossed from an AUSSIE bar for being drunk? It's a sure sign of the Impending Apocalypse. He then scaled the fence around the Crocodile Park in Perth, because he wanted to "give Fatso a pat". Sat on Fatso's back, Fatso objected and bit him on the leg. Then for some reason let the guy go.

Behind the screen with Sea Shepherd

You have to wonder where nonviolence would get activists on the high seas. Whales can be grateful the Sea Shepherd Society heros don't opt to sacrifice the whales to save them. Captain Paul Watson is visiting Colorado College tomorrow to elaborate, but I have no illusion he's at liberty to detail his provocative strategies. First off, he can't spoil the upcoming TV season of Whale Wars and second, doesn't playing for the media really turn on illusion? Sea Shepherd's fight to defend whales scored big when the cameramen began to film their adventures for the Animal Planet network. Even for veteran activists the reality TV format has necessitated they take some stage direction, and meant that the documentary lens presuming to take viewers behind the scenes, created a layer behind that one. For example, look at the action shot at the top right, where a Sea Shepherd inflatable comes in close to harass a whaling ship. Everyone is helmeted and goggled, except leading man Pete Bethune aiming his stink bomb launcher as the camera focuses in. He doesn't even have gloves or the bulkier dry-suit of his comrades. Are we to imagine protection from the Japanese water cannons is optional? Obviously adventuring with a script requires taking greater risks to get more drama in the shot. I'm contemplating now about the controversy surrounding the ramming of the Ady Gil. It was certainly dramatic. When I went to check out one of two Whale Wars DVDs at my public library, I discovered a waiting list fourteen borrowers long. Certainly Sea Shepherd got its money worth from the sinking of the Ady Gil, whether by accident or not. After the collision the whale warriors demanded the Japanese whalers be charged with attempted murder. There could have been casualties, if anyone had been below deck. Skeptics suspect the Ady Gil's helmsman sneaked his bow into harm's way. How will we ever know? By all appearances the Ady Gil was coasting slowly, all hands on deck, when the Japanese ship suddenly turned on her. Unseen might have been a quick lunge to intersect with the whaler's bow. It's hard to tell from the footage, taken from just the right angle by the Bob Barker coasting nearby. The Ady Gil was an innovative speed boat designed to pierce waves, not ride them, and could well disguise a last forward thrust. I don't think Paul Watson is about to fess up. The third season of Whale Wars promises to reveal what happened behind the scenes, at Sea Shepherd, because they don't have cameras following the Japanese fleet. And I think we're going to see where reality television hits the wall. Whale Wars is not documentary filmmaking, it's advocacy and drama. I love it, and I'd like to see more of it. I'm not such a kill-joy to say that fashioning 43-minute long narratives prevents telling the truth. But I suspect filming the whaling renegades is something akin to televised poker, pretending to film behind the dark glasses. After seasons of strategies

Falcon Heene is going to be a star

The Heene family takes the high road, pleading guilty to false reporting, to the surprise I'm sure of the poor-parazzi planting their tent stakes for a courtroom circus feeding frenzy. For his parents stepping up to tell the truth, Balloon Boy is going to emerge a hero, even at school. Who can fault the Heenes for taking the predatory media for a ride? They entertained, they became the butt of jokes, but they harmed no one and exposed the television media's thinning credibility. The media is showing its vindictiveness, by explaining that the guilty plea was made to avoid Mrs. Heene's deportation, but parents know this decision was about the kids, and I predict the Heene family's star will rise. The media may never forgive them, but it's too competitive to pass on this enterprising bunch. How culpable was the media? There was not a single possibility that a child was being carried aloft by that mylar balloon. The media willfully played along and knew the story's unraveling would make for even better ratings. The prevailing opinion has it that the Heene parents committed an obvious error in judgment to plan this fraud and make the children their accomplices. I'd even agree. But in today's scheme of things, isn't seeking fortune and fame a matter of calculating what you have to compromise? It's too early for mere television viewers to know if the Heenes actually miscalculated. Lots of ordinary people have launched themselves into the celebrity firmament on gambits which would embarrass the rest of us. Was the Heene gambit much worse than taking your family to sail around the world, or any other foolhardy adventure? They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind. In this godless age, that is no longer a warning. It's become an adage to define the fast track for social climbers. We can second guess to what risks parents should or shouldn't expose their children, but I don't know who can say that a grab at the brass ring is ultimately out of bounds. The fraudulent child-abducted-by-balloon story could almost pass for tongue-in-cheek, really. Just how stupid are the reporters and law enforcement? If you called them to complain of an elephant stuck in your toilet, and they came, my first thought is not going to be to accuse you of fraud. I don't care how many search and rescue emergency vehicles were expended on the balloon chase. They're salaried, and the fuel and equipment hours can be expensed as training exercise. Giving chase is what those personnel are for. I'm much more concerned about the media teams, fully prepared to build media events from fabricated premises. But it's what they do with the big stories, like war, and politics. Balloon Boy exposed it.

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