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There are times when I just noodle for awhile. What I mean by that is that a get a notion in my head and rather than do a knee jerk response, I send the notion in to the far reaches of my brain where it may or may not surface again. Such is the case with the National Geographic show, Doomsday Preppers.
Last year, when the show premiered, I was excited, thinking that in spite of the title, preppers and those who embrace the family preparedness lifestyle could finally find some mainstream acceptance. After all, many have thought of us as “nut jobs” and most certainly, many of my big city friends refer to my preps as “Gaye’s little survival thing”.
But after that first season, I was disillusioned with the entire premise of the show. The participants were portrayed as extremists and for the most part, a bit off. It was not that what they were doing was so bizarre – well maybe some of it was a little off the wall – but that each family portrayed in the show appeared to be laser focused on some future apocalypse to the exclusion of living a joyful life in the present.
That was and still is my opinion, which brings us in to the present.
A couple of week ago, Lisa Bedford, The Survival Mom (and if you have not been to her site, you should), included a piece in her e-mail newsletter that described her perspective as a Season 1 “Doomsday Prepper”. With her permission, I will quote what she said:
Reality TV should be called, “Unreality TV”. Everything you see is pretty much staged and coached, including much of what is said.
The producer’s job is to create a story that will hold the attention of the viewer. That’s the bottom line: making sure people don’t switch channels. So, everything filmed will be spliced together in a way that tells HIS/HER story.
Only about half of what you see, maybe more in some cases, will be completely accurate.
Sad to say, but “Freaks” have always been good business, going back to the days of the Elephant Man and the Bearded Lady. So, shading an individual or family with the use of odd camera angles, sound effects, doom and gloom background music all play a part in creating a not-quite-accurate portrayal, but it plays good on TV.
“Fact checking” is more for journalists than reality TV. When I stated that only three major highways led into and out of Phoenix, that fact had to be checked, but there was no problem in editing my words to give an inaccurate portrayal of our family. Another participant said that there were two completely false statements made in her segment, so striving for accuracy seems to take second or maybe third place to creating drama.
Some people think the preppers in this show are being paid. Not only did we not receive any money, it actually cost us money in time, gas, and getting the house ready for TV cameras. I heard that the tilapia guy got paid, but if so, it was kept under wraps.
Reality TV shows require a signed release form that gives the production company and network 100% control of the filmed words and images. Other than filing an expensive lawsuit, I suppose, there’s
no recourse if you don’t like how you are portrayed or if too much personal information is divulged.
There is a segment of the population who will do and say anything in order to have their 15 minutes of fame on TV, but the preppers who have been on “Doomsday Preppers” don’t strike me as falling into that category. Like me, their hope is that the non-prepared will learn something and start taking action. That is the ultimate value of shows like “Doomsday Preppers”.
Now you could say that Lisa took the words right out of my mouth but of course, she was there an I wasn’t. Still, she did very much validate that notion that I had been noodling. I must admit that the participants in the current season of Doomsday Preppers seem to be portrayed as a bit more well-rounded and – dare I say it – likable. But still, the entire concept of “Doomsday” is still bugging me.
Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best
We all have said those words, or at least we should have. You see prepping and family preparedness go far beyond having the skills and the stuff to survive an apocalypse. Who has not lived through a severe storm when the power was out? What about a flood, an earthquake, a tornado or the loss of the bread earner’s job. Disasters come in all flavors and being prepared means that there will be food the eat, water to drink, and band-aids to heal those wounds. It also means that we will be prepared to defend our homes and our loved one’s if an intruder or bad guy threatens our security.
So you see now what has been bugging me? The whole concept of “doomsday” is simply too gloomy and too “out there” for the mainstream to grasp. Because after all, family preparedness and prepping is a mainstream kind of thing. It is no different that the old days when our grandparents and great grandparents grew a garden, put up canned homegrown fruits and vegetables and stuffed extra cash in to the cookie jar. It was all for a “rainy day”. And isn’t that, after all, what prepping is all about?
So what do you think?
The groundwork has now been laid. What do you think? To get you started, you might want to compare your own thoughts to those of 1,007 nationally representative Americans (whatever that means) who responded to a survey done by Kelton Research for the Nat Geo Doomsday Prepper show. You can check it out here: Doomsday Prepper Survey.
(And a hat tip to Peoplenomics for leading me to this survey.)
The Final Word
I am an optimist. That does not mean, however, that I am going to sit back and let the world control my destiny. And I suppose that says it all: by prepping you take control of you life, not only for today, but for the future. Not only for yourself, but for your family and you loved ones. From where I sit, there is nothing wacky or freakish about that!
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
From the Bargain Bin: And speaking of The Survival Mom, Lisa has a new book available for pre-order: Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios. Here is the official blurb:
Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe and Secure—No Matter What
Undaunted by the prospect of TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World as We Know It), Lisa Bedford tackles every what-if and worst-case scenario head-on, offering practical advice on how to prepare your family for whatever might come your way. From a few days without electricity to an unexpected job loss or total chaos after the destruction of a tornado, Survival Mom provides everything you need to become self-reliant and establish plans for your family.
Given The Survival Mom’s upbeat attitude and wholesome prepping mentality, this promised to be a great book.
2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for CPR and ECC: This is free so you have no excuses. Be sure to download and print out a copy for your survival kit.
Lodge Logic 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet: My readers love cast iron and so do I. Don’t forget the Lodge Set of 2 Pan Scrapers and the Lodge Max Temp Handle Mitt.
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking: At an average cost of 50 cents a loaf, this bread is easy, delicious and inexpensive to make.
8 Responses to “Weighing in on the Doomsday Preppers”
Another great article, Gaye. Thanks for sharing.
It doesnt matter wether or ont its staged, with few exceptions, these people are REAL, their desire to be self -reliant and prepared for what their prepping outcome may be is real. DP has inspired me to BE PREPARED just as the BOY SCOUT motto has said for years.Survivor on CBS is staged and has become a succesful franchise…..why not include that.Apoclypse 101 continues where DP started. These guys learned their crafrt/skillset from devoted service to the US. Praise them for sharing their skills/expirences.
I agree that the focus on some specific future event is the wrong approach but for the most part I don’t mind most of the people I’ve seen on this season’s episodes. While I would consider most of them extreme (even for us “crazy” preppers) they’re better folks than last season.
Thanxs for this article. I know several families that have done either a one time “reality TV” show or a “realit yseries.” I also know a lady with over 10 adopted disabled children who decided to do the show “The Nanny.” She and the others told me that you need to have the contracts looked at by an attorney. What had been found in the contracts was wording that stated that your “brand” belonged to the Company who owned the show, that you and your family participate in. What that meant was that anything you or anyone in your family who participated on any of the shows could potentially owe said company money if you did any work in the entertainment business in the future. For example say you and your kids were on “The Nanny” show as my friend and her kids were, well if you then decided to do a reality show any money earned by you or any of your kids would be subject to being split with the original Company you signed with who now owned your “brand.” I was offered a reality show with my son and as I started the interview process at the studio, I realized how offensive and intrusive the questions were as they were being asked on camera, in the first interview. I also realized that they were focusing on me the mom and not my son, although the show was portrayed as about kids that liked to play sports. I stopped the interview and let them know that I wasn’t interested in the show and sorry for taking up their time and left. At that point no contract had been offered yet, but that was the next step and if taken I had it I would definitely of taken it to an attorney before signing it. In the case of my friend with the 10 kids she had all the contracts for her and the children looked at and amended by an attorney to reflect the fact that she and the children each owned their own brand. The Company putting on the show were fine with the amendments. So in essence this is truly a buyer beware kind of thing were it’s up to you to know what you are signing and to amend the contract yourself or have the contract amended by an attorney before signing. Be careful and good luck
The first Nat Geo prepper show accomplished at least one thing: it prompted some of us to look at life realistically. A few of us started paying attention, and in the end became preppers ourselves. Now, speaking for only my own family here, we do what we can to put food aside and we pay attention to the news and what *doesn’t* get reported. We’ve made plans for our immediate future and we’re learning skills we’ll need to become more self sufficient. We’ve also learned the value of not advertising. Even though I have a blog that usually addresses ways to be more self-reliant I don’t rail against the government. I don’t keep guns. I am not a threat to anyone else. We’re simply doing what we can. As much as I applaud the courage of those who were on the first Nat Geo show, I would never go on one of those shows. Too much exposure for my liking. It would have been right for those participants to get paid. shame on Nat Geo for not paying those folks. Shame on the producers for looking for sensationalism. I expect better than that from them. But I digress. “Prepping” is becoming more talked about, more folks are seeing the wisdom in it, if it’s balanced and sane. In all things balance. The government feels threatened by being prepared, partly, I think, because they know how much control they do not really have over “Preppers”. Without control, they would be left with no power, and thus rendered useless. It all comes back to power and control. ‘If we can make this group look like lunatics, no one will take them seriously enough to follow their ideas, and we’ll look all the better for it.’
No, the trick is to become as self-sufficient as possible while not advertising that you no longer need the government to pull your behind out of trouble. Stay under their radar and you’ll be left alone. That’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from all this.
I agree with Richard. I watched a couple and felt they weren’t portraying the kind of people I know as preppers and found it pretty stressful to watch. I would never be involved in something like that because I don’t really want everyone to know what I do. Just keep plugging along and am alert to what’s going on.
Although I’m not a TV watcher and haven’t ever seen any of the NGO shows, it seems to me that NGO should have plenty of geological and astrological events to be reporting on. Even without watching TV, word has it that much is happening both on and off our planet lately. Hopefully, with the vast experience and resources available to NGO, they are extensively investigating, monitoring and reporting what CNN and NASA often does not deliver to the public.
As for SurvivalWoman not living an enjoyable life otherwise, I think the nice smile in your webpage photo is a pretty fair indicator…
NGO portrayed most of the people as over the top nut jobs. BUT TV looks at ratings, pure and simple. I watched a few of the shows but passed on the rest. I do my thing, I do not broadcast it, I stay under the radar. That is the only way.