Buck Naked and Afraid
There’s a new reality TV show out called, Naked and Afraid, on the Discovery Channel and it’s been making quiet headlines for the past few weeks. It’s pop culture at its best, and there have been all kinds of comments from the mainstream media. I set the DVR and watched several episodes and I have to admit that even though I started watching with my tongue pressed to my cheek, I wound up liking it more than I thought I would.
First, get past the naked part. It’s only a cheap thrill for the first five minutes. I’ve been to my share of nude beaches and there is one thing that never fails to happen: the first few moments you remove your clothes you feel awkward, but eventually you don’t even realize you’re nude. There’s nothing sexual about it, and you don’t even notice the other nude people around you. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, and once in a while you’ll see something unusual, but for the most part you get over being naked.
And it’s the same way with Naked and Afraid. But the best part of this show is that no one is doing it for the money or to win some kind of spectacular grand prize. These people are seriously interested in testing their bodies and learning about what it’s like to survive, naked, in the middle of nowhere without food or water. That’s literally what happens. A naked man and woman are left on a tropical island, or in a jungle, and they are forced to see how much they can take and how well they can deal with their limited circumstances. It’s both physical and mental. As a runner I appreciate this for several reasons. I’ve been running every morning of my life for the past twenty years and it’s not always easy. Most of the time, especially in extreme heat or cold, it’s a test to see how much I can take. It’s the old bring on the pain mind set. And from what I’ve seen so far on Naked and Afraid, that is exactly what it motivating these people.
The gender politics is interesting, too, because it’s a naked straight man and woman left in the middle of nowhere. So far, even though both sexes have had their doubts about how to deal with the gender power, each case has worked out very well in spite of a few serious fears they keep hidden from each other. And what I’d like to see in the future is a balance of gender power, so to speak. It would be interesting to see how a naked straight man and a naked gay man would deal with a survival situation, or two naked gay men, or even a naked straight woman and a naked gay woman. I hope the producers of the show realize the possibilities of this are not just limited to naked and afraid straight men and women. They would be underestimating the power of what they have going for them, and the show could get boring if they don’t expand a little.
Kian Brown Letter to Paula Deen
Kian Brown is a multi-talented man who is an artist, host, and branding expert. I’ve read his pieces on Huff Po and enjoyed them, and the most recent one really made me stop and think. It’s an open letter to Paula Deen. I know he’s a branding expert, and the letter might sound as if he’s giving unsolicited advice to Deen, but I also think these wise words come from his heart as well.
The backlash you are experiencing is due in part to fear. A precedent is being made about how we handle racism amongst the privileged. I disagree that you should be engaged in such an offensive against your character. You actually admitted wrongdoing and apologized. We’ve all seen folks in leadership whether political, religious, business or cultural, lie, cheat and steal, get exposed, then work to pick up the pieces of their shattered image, some unsuccessfully.
I don’t think you are a racist, not even by osmosis. I will venture to assume however, given your age and upbringing, there may be some tendencies unbeknownst to even you.
He talks more about his own upbringing and how he doesn’t believe the content of questionable words and phrases always contain malicious intent. I’ve talked about intent before. I happen to agree with Kian Brown on this, and I often come across these things while writing fiction. It happened with a book I wrote as part of the Manhandled series with the pen name Dale Bishop. (Cover Photo above) In this case, it wasn’t racial. I wrote a character who was sexist in an innocent way. In other words, the character didn’t mean to be sexist and he didn’t hate women. In fact, he had a great deal of respect for women and good intentions, without a hint of malice. But he wasn’t familiar with words like misogynist or rape culture. And an editor asked me to revise a few of this character’s comments in the dialogue because she thought some readers would take it the wrong way. We actually had a huge discussion about this at the time, because I felt as if I were being censored.
But frankly, I saw her point and I made the revisions. We live in a highly charged politically correct world now and everyone has to watch everything he or she says. The last thing I wanted was to have some lunatic author who hangs out on the fringes of twitter and absolute write accusing me of being sexist because of one misunderstood character. But I shouldn’t have had to do those revisions. The character wasn’t a misogynist and he had good intentions. But for the sake of avoiding a shitstorm with these certain reviewers, I toned him down and changed the dialogue.
I’ve actually been planning a blog post about how authors sometimes need to explain themselves in fiction to avoid issues with some of these reviewers who take everything so literally and don’t take intention into consideration. I recently had another case where I was accused of writing BDSM without explaining it, and nothing could have been farther from the truth. There was no BDSM in the book, and the reviewer clearly didn’t understand the BDSM lifestyle. And it wasn’t a bad review either; it was a wrong review. No links in this case to protect the innocent. I actually don’t think the reviewer had any malicious intent, which is an interesting turn of events in itself for me to admit.
In any case, I think it’s an interesting letter to Paula Deen and I think that Kian Brown is a very elegant man, and I’ve also stated before on this blog that one of the greatest parts of American culture is that we have the ability to forgive and let people start over. And I think time will tell with Paula Deen.