(Norwegian version) In the reality program «Den store reisen» (Ticket to the tribes), a Norwegian family moved in with Waorani-indians in Banemo, Ecuador. The TV-pictures show people who go naked and live “primitively". What the TVstation NRK fails to mention, is that they pay the Indians to take off their western clothes during filming, the magazine Ny Tid (New Times) reports.
NRK wanted to present the Indians as more different from Norwegians as they in reality are.
Many anthropologists criticized the program. One of them is Laura Rival from the Centre for International Development at Oxford University. She has studied the Waorani tribe since 1989 and was in the village of Banemo when the Belgian version of the series was recorded:
The Waorani take their clothes off just for these programmes. I know them. They never walk around naked in groups any longer, it’s only for tourists and reality shows.
There were too many modern elements that disturbed things in the village where they really live.
These programmes are built on the same ideas that the west has had for 400-500 years: find the last people in the wild and live with them. The TV companies are only interested in recreating western myths. This is very patronising and gives a false idea of their differences.”
NRK has not problem admitting that parts of the series have been staged: “We are not pretending this is a “fly on the wall” documentary. Reality programs are always a mixture of fiction and reality.
But on the NRK website, the fiction is presented as reality. “The Waorani go around naked. The men’s penises are tied to their bodies with string,” says NRK’s website.
The Waorani have taken part in a large number of reality programmes. The BBC’s Tribal Wives and several countries’ versions of Ticket to the Tribes were filmed in the area.
Read the whole story in these two articles which I have based my summary on:
NORWAY: “Naked bluff” on Primetime TV (Galdu - Resource Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 19.9.08)
Indian bluff on NRK: Natives turned out not to be so primitive after all (Stavanger Aftenblad, 19.9.08)
We’ve had many similar stories before: