Thursday, 30 September 2010

Idiots abroad

A thought has just occurred to me: What is it with British travel shows lately, in which the protagonists do not enjoy travelling at all?

By far the best example for this has got to be An Idiot Abroad. And what an idiot he is. Mind you, what do you expect from a show that is basically a prank done for Ricky Gervais' own enjoyment? An English guy gets to travel the world, sees places so many people would love to see in their lifetimes - China, Egypt, India, for example - and he hates every minute of it. Here is somebody who makes fun of people who are not like him, has no intention of getting to know his host cultures and generally just whimpers "I wanna go home!" for an hour. When asked what he thinks of an experience, his usual answer is "I hate it."
I'm sorry, but that's not a travel show. That's just a show about the blinkered world view of one man. Maybe it's enjoyable in mute mode, when you can't hear the complaining and moaning. I don't know, I never tried. I lost interest after the first 5 minutes.

The other example that comes to mind was an episode of My Family's Crazy Gap Year, that aired on Monday (27th September). A mum and her 9-year-old daughter go around the world, immerse themselves in volunteering projects and township stays. So far, so good. But about halfway through their trip, they have a month in Indonesia for which they have not organised any projects or host families to stay with.
So they travel around a bit, and instead of checking out the culture, enjoying some time off or finding another project to help with, they decide to head back to England because they've had enough of bumming around and can't wait around until their next placement starts somewhere else in the world. That entire Gap Year had been planned for quite a while, so the free time should not have come as such a big surprise. If anything, that's just bad time management. I personally know quite a few people who would quite happily travel around Indonesia for a month without any plan.
And I am sure, that Shoestring readers and contributors combined could come up with hundreds of things to do while out there. The real loser in this episode was the little girl, though. She missed out on so many stories to tell and so many cultural experiences she could have had.

The travel shows I remember where alwys about: "I'm here and I'm doing this, and isn't this amazing!" "Did you know you can do this too?" and "Here's an adventure for you to have." Truly inspiring stories and documentaries that opened your eyes. Unfortunately, all that's on TV these days is: "I'm here and I'd rather be home." And they call those travel shows....

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