What if Columbus and Cortez had their own Reality TV Show?

What if Columbus and Cortez had their own Reality TV Show? October 30, 2012

We were staying with relatives this weekend and while flipping through the channels on Friday night, we stumbled upon the premier of the new Discovery Channel show, Jungle Gold. The premise of the show is that two Americans, who are in over their heads in debt (to the tune of over a half million dollars) after trying to get rich in Real Estate before the housing bubble burst, are headed to Ghana to make quick money mining gold.  A trailer for the show is available above.

The Americans pay next to nothing for the right to mine a particular piece of land that holds possibly millions of dollars of gold (and I am reminded of the sale of Manhattan for a similarly paltry price.) Of course, there are complications along the way, but I am skeptical about how marketable the show would be if the Americans ultimately failed. I watched about half the show, but turned it off about half way through out of anger.  Not only is this baldly colonialist narrative being broadcast (“Stupid natives will swap their riches for next to nothing”) but it is being glorified as dramatic entertainment.  Just because we can rape and pillage the land in foreign places, should we? Is this what our desires for wealth, privilege and security bring us to?  Is there no end to our Western greed?

What do you think? Am I just being a grumpy old man here? If the show really is as atrocious as I imagine, is it worth protesting (not so much the show itself, but particularly as a means of shedding light on these present-day colonialist sorts of practices?) 

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