Life Lessons from Television

by vpundir | December 10th, 2007

When I got back from my late night/ early morning walk by the Thames, I inadvertently switched on the TV. And a running TV has to be watched. While surfing the channels, I stumbled onto BBC Three’s “Can Fat Teens Hunt?”, one of the numerous reality TV/ armchair-enthusiast’s-self-improvement programs.

The fundamental concept of the program is that a bunch of morbidly obese teenagers are packed off to Borneo, where they live in the jungle with an Iban tribe for a month. This is purported to teach them healthy habits.

In this particular episode, the teens have been in the jungle for 10 or so days, and their food runs out. Naturally they need to go hunting/ gathering. For this they have the leadership and guidance of an Iban gentleman.

A few of the teens stay back to guard the camp while the remaining pack of 5-6 follows their Iban guide on a treck uphill into the forest.

Two of the brat pack fall short relatively quickly, one falling down from hypoglycemia, and the other from dehydration. The other three also give up at different stages of the quest, long before reaching the food source, and return to the base camp.

Only one kid Jimmy perseveres with his Iban guide, and returns home with food for the gang.

And then comes the kicker. Instead of receiving a hero’s welcome that all those Hollywood movies tell us he should receive, Jimmy returns to a very hostile bunch of fellow teens. He is accused variously of being selfish, arrogant and “not a team player”.

This pretty much grabbed me by my throad and shook me. I still struggle to make sense of what happened there. To tell the truth, it even brough back memories of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I guess that such events are either a reminder that one should stop trying to make sense of the world around oneself, or use a bigger hammer.

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