Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Episode 92, Doomsday Preppers

Have you seen the Nat Geo cable show, Doomsday Preppers?

When I first heard about it, I thought a couple of things. One, prepping has started to go mainstream. Two, it will make preppers, and preparing for disaster, look stupid.

Well, having seen a half-dozen shows, stupid wins. It's obvious what the show's producers and the Nat Geo brass are hoping for--a big tune in factor from "regular people" who want to feel superior while watching crazy fools do dumb things.

And the show delivers, from the wacky "Party Girl" in Houston (pictured) to the wildly overweight and unfit "Tennessee hillbilly", looking ridiculous putting imaginary bullets through their pet cat's brain stem (Party Girl) and brandishing scary-looking "assault rifles" while guarding remote rural properties (the hillbilly). Oh dear.

The show depicts each prepper in the extreme--people who surely have multiple and overlapping reasons for prepping for TEOTWAWKI are portrayed as one-dimensional kooks with a single overriding fear. And the most extreme fears at that, such as a change in the rotational axis of the Earth causing massive earthquakes, tsunamis, and climate change.

The fact is that some of the people portrayed on the show have perfectly valid reasons for prepping, and absent the out-of-context remarks and visuals deliberately designed to make them look crazy, the show might actually promote reasonable precaution-taking by the Average Joe. But as structured the show will probably just provoke a few laughs and a few eye-rolls before it runs out of gas when it becomes predictably repetitive.

Meanwhile, those of us who have serious concerns will continue to prepare seriously, with an eye towards achieving the liberty and self-reliance promised by the tough road of "shrugging out", and how shrugging out is a "two-fer": You get the self-protection of prepping, and you get more liberty in your life as you distance yourself from the "dependency oxcart" that dominates modern American society.

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  1. Great podcast! National Geographic's portrayal of these preppers reminds me of the often used quote attributed to Gandhi, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Following this construct, it seems that the prepper movement is now in phase two. As you pointed out it is also television, so the more quirky people are selected and then encouraged along the way to fulfill the character that the production company wants them to become. Having a program with regular people just trying to be more self reliant would not make "good" television and may in fact attract more people to the idea of Shrugging Out.

  2. Drumshanbo, I didn't know that Gandhi quote (don't know enough about him, obviously) but it sure seems to apply. I agree with your points.

    Thanks for listening to the Shrugging Out Podcast!