The vast expanse of the last frontier is quickly becoming the king of prime time television entertainment. There is another gold rush in Alaska and its attacking our screens with the ferocity of a Kodiak brown bear. There are over twenty reality TV shows currently airing on numerous cable networks that have some affiliation with Alaska. It’s easy to assume that Alaska is just plain awesome, right? Who wouldn’t want to film in the vast expanse of America’s most remote and majestic state? Perhaps, this all goes back to our favorite famous Alaskan. No one else has enticed and disappointed America with their Alaskan charm more than Sarah Palin. During her political stint in 2008, Palin instituted an Alaska film incentive program that could give up to 200 million bucks a year to prospective production companies that met the proper requirements. Lucky for us, her daughter, Britol Palin, received 360,000 dollars for her short lived reality show, which received some of the worse ratings ever. (Second, of course, to Hook, Line, And Sisters! Just Kidding.) Over 40 Alaskan reality shows have come and gone over the years, even Sarah had her own fleeting reality moments on TLC in the fall of 2010. A few of the older shows, like the Deadliest Catch, have managed to keep their integrity and expand their fan base. It fact, it’s constantly the most popular show on Discovery Channel. Newer reality shows, like Alaskan Bush People, are angering Alaskans with their lack of local knowledge and the sensational approach to even the most mundane situations. With the possibility of the Alaskan film incentives being discounted due to budget cuts, is this a reprieve for weathered Alaskan fishermen? Don’t count on it. Another 13 shows are listed to be in currently in production according to IMDB.
This “selling out” of our high seas and distant shores hits closer to home than I ever realized it could. Over the past months, I have been in negotiation with an unnamed reality production crew, which was interested in the Commercial Fishing Film Festival. Unfortunately, I can’t really mention too many details about the “proposed” reality show due to legal mumbo jumbo. Initially, I drank the “Hollywood Kool-Aid” and was profoundly inspired by the possibilities of this new found partnership. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had pretty much signed away any creative rights for “our” future project. Luckily, with a little back pedaling and stalling, I was able to back away from the deal. I instantly realized the unique quality of The Commercial Fishing Film Festival is in its raw independent nature. These are real fishermen, capturing real moments, with their own personal twist on their reality. Most of all, these voices and visions aren’t being stifled by some producer who knows absolutely nothing about Alaska or fishermen. If you are as disgusted of fake reality shows, tune into www.fishfilmfest.com for hundreds of commercial fishing videos uploaded by from various fishermen around the world.
It’s easy to understand the appeal of these “reality” shows. Adventure, discovery, and exploration are really at the heart of the American dream. Sadly, these ideals are being packaged by Hollywood and mass produced for prime time television at the cost of true Alaskans. Edge Of Alaska, really? Let’s hope that the redneck roundup of ridiculous reality shows finds a new land to tarnish. In the meantime… Have you seen the latest episode of Alaskan Bush People?
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