Idaho-style reality TV


Just a quick grin here.

Rocky Barker, a veteran Idaho Statesman writer and friend of mine, plays with this news:

... The Idaho Department of Commerce is planning on picking a Seattle family for an all-expense-paid trip to Idaho for fishing, rafting, hiking, horseback riding and the like -- in exchange for (the family) starring in an online reality show the state will produce.

Rocky suggests that the Department of Commerce should show everyone a slice of the real Idaho -- by inviting out-of-state couples to drive around rural Idaho, for a show called something like Survivor Idaho Style:

Each pair will be driving a pink Prius with an assortment of bumper stickers that read:

"Potatoes Suck." "Brigham Young should have stayed in Illinois." "Cattle Free by 2023." "Reelect Obama." "Ban assault weapons." "California, America's Paradise." "Socialism Rules!" and "Save wolves, shoot a rancher."

The first one to make it back to Boise alive wins.

Those of you who don't know the Idaho basics that Rocky is also playing with, please note: The state's license plates have carried the slogan "Famous Potatoes" to celebrate farmers, the state has a lot of Mormons, a lot of political conservatives, a lot of ranchers who disagree with environmentalists over wolves and cattle, etc.

Rocky is not trying to insult potatoes, of course. Between the grins, he is making a point:

Tourism promotions, "reality" TV -- and even enjoy-nature documentaries -- are never as real as real life.

Confession time: That also applies to a great deal of journalism.


About Ray

Ray has been a Western journalist since 1979. He's now High Country News senior editor, based in Bozeman, Montana. He's earned national recognition including a George Polk Award for political reporting, a Sidney Hillman Foundation Journalism Award for investigating oil-field accidents, and an Investigative Reporters & Editors scroll for going undercover as a prison inmate. He's had three novels published.