Bitter Clingers Have Taken Over Your Television, or How America Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Duck
Did you hear that? The shotgun blast heard ‘round the world? It happened when A&E Network’s hit reality TV show Duck Dynasty reached over 8 million viewers in its season premiere.
Like any gunshot, it got my attention. I tuned in to see what all the fuss is about and am now hopelessly hooked on this revolutionary bit of televised perfection. I quickly discovered that Duck Dynasty has very little to do with ducks or duck hunting, and everything to do with traditional American values and the current American condition.
Like all great television, Duck Dynasty works because it follows a proven formula. In the case of Duck Dynasty, that formula is the roadmap to realizing the quintessential American dream. Have a clever idea. Sacrifice. Work harder than the next guy. Make it happen. Earn your wealth the old-fashioned way. Pass the business and its blessings along to your children and grandchildren. Have fun. Never forget where, or what, you came from. Give thanks to God. Repeat.
Like most rednecks and hillbillies, the starring members of the Robertson clan of West Monroe, Louisiana, are as clever as the proverbial old swamp fox. And so are the development execs at A&E. With Duck Dynasty they’ve struck more than ratings gold. They’ve struck a vital nerve in contemporary American culture. And I think they know exactly what they are doing.
Each week millions think they’re tuning in to watch the crazy and entertaining antics of a bunch of rich rednecks with beautiful wives, powerful trucks, bountiful firearms, a knack for explosives and avoiding the drudgery of work, and an endless supply of homespun one-liners.
Poor Seth MacFarlane. The guy sings one song about boobs and suddenly he’s #1 on the Hates Women List with a Steinem next to his name. (That means if they capture him, she gets to rag on him incessantly. Who wouldn’t want a bullet after that?)
It’d be too easy to join the chorus singing, “MacFarlane hates women.” As a woman, I despise the cop-outs women often take, chiding every man as being both the desired master of her universe and the despised crafter of her fate. If we really believe in Girl Power, what’s our responsibility in all of this? Are we allowing the fate scripted by guys like MacFarlane to come true?
It took about 10 minutes to pull video for the following five most common stereotypes about women portrayed in Family Guy. The sad news is that it took about 15 to pull five examples of the same behavior from the most popular Girl Power reality television show out there: The Kardashians. Praised by some feminists as career women comfortable in their own skin, it has been observed that “50 years ago, the Kardashians could never live the way they do. It’s all thanks to the Feminist movement that they are who they are – and they embrace every benefit from it fully.”
So, culture judges that you are, tell me: Is the evidence compelling? Is MacFarlane a He-Man Woman Hater, or do the Kardashians prove that girls finally busted through the glass ceiling in the tree house and joined the club?
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “_____ and _____ are worried about an economic collapse.” National Geographic should simply change the name of their hit show from Doomsday Preppers to Surviving Obama and be done with it.
Where was I? Oh, I remember.
Brad and Krystal are the parents of three near Tulsa, Oklahoma, and worried about an economic collapse. They’ve been preppers for several years, and have amassed enough food stores that they are beginning to overwhelm their 2,000 sq. ft. home. Their closets and rooms are overflowing to the point that just to get into bed Krystal has to climb over Brad; her side of the bed is packed with canned food.
Moments after we are introduced to the family and shown around their warehouse/home, we shuffle off to the shooting range, where the family is intent on introducing their youngest son, six-year-old Carson, to shooting.
Putting a six year old in charge of a firearm sends up a big red flag to many people, whether they are shooters or not. In the end, it is a call that the parents and instructors have to make: is this specific child mature enough to follow instructions to the letter? Is the environment controlled, with limited distractions? Are all the basic safety rules being followed, and is that child’s exposure to the firearm tightly supervised, and restricted to the firing line? Is there a need/way to restrict the muzzle of the firearm so that it can only point downrange?
As a rifle-shooting instructor, these are some of the concerns that ran through my mind when I heard they were going to put Carson on the firing line, and it turns out those concerns were well-grounded.
The family can’t even get out of the house without serious safety violations, such as when their kids walk out the front door holding uncased firearms by the stocks, and young Carson is pointing the muzzle of his .22LR singe-shot at his sister’s ankles and their concrete driveway. Oy vey!
It’s nearly impossible to review a show on the fly, so I’ve relied on DVRing each new episode of Doomsday Preppers, and reviewing it the next day. This worked great until last week, when for whatever reason episode 14, “A Fortress at Sea,” didn’t record. I chalked it up to there being a mid-season re-run (they happen), and didn’t know otherwise until a reader asked my why I didn’t review it. Oops.
So, this week we’re going to do the best we can and condense two episodes “A Fortress at Sea” and “Let Her Rip” into one post. Call it “Ripped at Sea,” which is what I’m going to wish I was after doing a twofer.
Ready? Here we go!
Kevin and Annissa Coy live in Washington atate and were impacted by the explosion of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Along with their children and grandchildren, they are preparing against the threat of another eruption from one of five active volcanoes within striking distance of their home, including the country-killer, Yellowstone.
They have multiple vehicles to bug-out in, including a truck towing a 5th-wheel RV, a converted Greyhound bus, a 27-foot sailboat on a trailer, and a rollback wrecker to tote a micro-house in case the worst happens. They’ve got livestock (chickens, pigs, rabbits, etc), a year’s supply of food for the entire family… and problems.
Prior to the show, their efforts, while generally well thought-out, had been hypothetical. When it came time to put the theory into practice, that hit several serious snags. The truck that they had to pull the livestock trailer was jacked up too high to connect to the trailer, so they were forced to leave most large livestock behind to die in the hypothetical ash cloud (sorry, Porky). The chickens and rabbits ended up shoved into the luggage compartments of the bus, and I frankly think they stand a decent chance of dying of carbon monoxide poisoning since those aren’t very well-ventilated.
The micro-house Kevin built for Annissa, sadly, wouldn’t load up on the flatbed. Presumably, they need a better skid system under it.
The show’s experts at Practical Preppers dinged the Coys pretty hard for not having adequate water filtration figured out (if someone knows of a volcanic ash-/sludge-rated water filter, please let me know) and for security preps. I was a little uncertain about that, but since the only firearms showed on their segment were a bolt action .22LR and a scoped-deer rifle, it might mean they didn’t have sufficient firepower and/or numbers, since it is rather difficult to drive and shoot. They give them 11 months of survival time.
Ah, lucky 13. We’ve hit the 13th episode of Doomsday Preppers, Season Two, and what have we learned so far?
We’ve developed an understanding that the single most common reason for prepping is the imminent collapse of the economy and the ensuing chaos that follows such an event. We’ve learned that the producers of this show — and to be fair, the producers of almost every “reality” show — have an eye for the eccentric and the absurd. The more outlandish and unhinged the prepper, it seems, the better chance they stand of getting on the show. That allowed, there have been some very ingenious preppers who have made the cut this season as well and impressed even the most grizzled critics with their ingenuity.
Craig Compeau lives in southeastern Alaska, the “last frontier,” with his wife and teenage daughters. The owner of a boat sales company, Craig fears an economic collapse and popular revolt that leads to martial law.
Should that eventuality come to pass, Craig intends to get his family out of Fairbanks fast and into Alaska’s rugged interior where limited government forces aren’t likely to try and chase down individual families in the bush.
For the time being, Craig’s family is split up. His wife and older daughter are in a different part of Alaska pursuing medical degrees, while he keeps the home-fires burning and the preps, er, prepping. This isn’t easy on his younger daughter, Emily, who, like most teens, thinks her parents are nuts.
True to form for the show, Craig wakes Emily before dawn and takes her on on a forced retreat to their bug-out location.
In southeastern Tennessee, Doug is known as the “Rockman.” No, it has nothing to do with his passing resemblance to retired WWE wrestler Shawn Michaels, who was part of a tag-team called “The Rockers” in the 1980s, when Doug last cut his hair. Instead, Doug is called the Rockman for a far more direct reason: he finds, excavates, and sells rocks. Boulders, to be specific, of the visually appealing kind that find their way into carefully designed landscaping projects for commercials and residential clients. It takes a discerning eye, and not a small amount of brute force.
Like tens of thousands (if not millions) of Americans, Doug is worried about an economy he sees faltering and on the cusp of failing. This has become the most common recurring theme pushing people into prepping nationwide, both on and off the show.
In order to have something as a trade good after the expected collapse of paper dollars, Doug has come up with an interesting way to “prospect” for silver, at his local bank. Doug exchanges his paper money for roll after roll of half-dollar coins, and takes them home to crack them open. Once opened, he looks only at the edges of the coins, quickly discarding those that show copper, to single out older coins that might be made of silver. In the 2,000 half dollars he picked up during this bank run, 12 of them were older coins made with varying amounts of silver. The $6 of coins are actually worth more than $100 in silver. Doug will keep these for barter, while rolling the rest and shipping them back to the bank for their face value. One day soon, he’ll repeat the process again.
John and Kelly Taylor are retired firefighters from Florida who have moved to the mountains of Virginia to live on a 41-acre homestead.
What led them to leave the Sunshine State?
Former emergency responders, they’ve been on duty during hurricanes and other natural disasters, and they’ve seen how thin the veneer of civilization can be when the infrastructure holding our society breaks down for even a little while. They’ve seen mankind go primal, and they want to insulate themselves from the social unrest that will follow what they feel is a coming economic collapse. Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah.
They invested all of John’s retirement into prepping. The little income they do have of $4,000-$6,000 a year comes from their solar panel array, which not only provides all the power they can use, but generates enough energy that they sell the remainder to the power company.
Between their crops, animals, and honey bees, the Taylors have managed to “check out” of the normal monetary economy, rendering them largely immune to the direct impact of the financial collapse they fear must come.
Of course, what they can’t do is isolate themselves 100% from the sort of social unrest that would presumably follow such a collapse, and so they’re taking steps to defend what they’ve built.
In the event that they are forced from their homestead due to invaders, they have supply caches in the hills nearby, and have a desire to protect them. Their solution? Conibear traps. I don’t claim to be an expert on trapping, but I’ve heard the stories of body traps such as these designed for possums and beavers killing family pets, and I find it both unethical and possibly illegal to set such traps and leave them unattended as they seem intent on doing. It’s also incredibly stupid. Do they really think a trap designed for a small animal is going to stop even the blind man that doesn’t see the shiny metal traps, or it is just going to tip invaders off that something nearby is worth taking?
Lindsey and Ray are part of the urban agriculture movement, a movement that I personally support and encourage. Instead of getting all their food from the grocery stores (or worse, fast food restaurants) as too many Americans do today, they’ve taken to growing what they can, and seem to have embraced the relatively new concept of edible landscaping. They’re concerned about a collapse of the world agricultural system.
If you’re one of those people who wholeheartedly believes in global warming, stop sneering at Doomsday Preppers now; if global climate change really is upon us as some claim, then shifts in climate will lead to poor yields and even crops failures. Such shifts and the famines they caused are the most likely causes of the end of the Mayan and Egyptian empires, and affected us here in the United States to a lesser extent in the 1930s. Considering the massive shift from rural to urban lifestyles that has happened in the past 80 years, the overwhelming majority of us are reliant on a relative handful of American farmers.
Scared sober yet? Good.
In response to this threat, Lindsey has become an advocate for sustainable living, promoting her message through a call-in radio show to encourage her Idaho community to follow her lead.
While Lindsey focuses on promoting a sustainable lifestyle, her husband Ray is a former Marine intent on protecting Lindsey and their family from the rampaging hordes of starving people he expects to see if food supply collapses. He’s secured for the family a bug-out location with simple cabins and a deep well, far away from other people and stockpiled with four years of supplies, communications gear, their own agricultural supplies to continue growing their own food, and, of course, weapons. Why?
Due in part to Lindsey’s radio show, she and Ray are well-known as being the most-prepared among their friends and family. Some — who of course don’t believe in prepping themselves — have told Ray, “If the sh*t hits the fan, we’re coming over to your place.” Ray, AK-pattern rifle in hand with a 30-round clip in place, says rather convincingly that no, they will not. Therein, chillingly stated by Ray with his takes-no-nonsense eyes, lies the harsh reality of prepping told through the fable of the grasshopper and the ant.
If you prep, you might live. If you live improvidently, and do not prepare for bad times, do not expect others to save you.
Lucas Cameron is a farmer like his father, and has been working the same plot of land his entire life. He’s also a devout Christian who volunteers in his church’s outreach ministries. His study of the Bible has convinced him that like the original prepper, Noah, he should prepare his family both in faith and in substance to endure the wrath of God. In particular, he is preparing for the great earthquake predicted in Revelations.
I watched as the Lamb broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became as dark as black cloth, and the moon became as red as blood. Revelation 6:12
Then the thunder crashed and rolled, and lightning flashed. And a great earthquake struck–the worst since people were placed on the earth. Revelation 16:18
Lucas intends for his family to be among the delivered… and who can blame him? Towards that end, he works all day, every day, thinking about prepping his family for the End of Days, which he believes will occur on the New Madrid fault zone under his feet. To protect themselves against the anticipated lawlessness, they’ve spent roughly $50,000 fortifying the family farm, which they’ve dubbed “the Alamo.” Lucas is the second prepper this season (after Tom Perez) to dub his compound the Alamo. I wonder if either one is actually aware what happened to the defenders there.
Everybody died. If that is how you imagine you’ll end up, why bother prepping?
“Love should be multiplied, not divided.” — Sister Wives star Kody Brown
Polygamist Kody Brown and his four wives, featured on TLC’s reality show Sister Wives, challenges the show’s audience with that “prove me wrong” statement at the beginning of every episode. Now in its third season, Sister Wives follows the lives of Brown and his wives, Meri, Janelle, and Christine, all of whom he married in the early 1990s. The most recent addition, Robyn — younger, thinner, prettier — married into the family last season. The household also includes a total of 17 children (three of them Robyn’s from a previous marriage). The only legal marriage is between Kody and Meri.
Like most reality shows, there’s an element of train-wreck entertainment as we watch the daily lives of the “cast,” and like most reality shows, we can be certain that the editors and producers play a strong role in shaping the show’s narrative. In much of the first season, they portray the family as happy and loving — your average family next door — until they introduce the fourth wife, Robyn, and she and Kody begin courting. Jealousy between the wives begins to surface and escalates as Robyn and Kody eventually marry. There are serious cracks, especially in the relationship between Christine and Kody now that she has been replaced as the the newest wife:
I have a lot of expectations and not a lot of appreciation, to be honest. And so, he’s walking into a hostile environment sometimes now. And we’re just at a point where we’re struggling to find ourselves. I don’t know if I care if it’s perfect anymore or if it’s what he wants anymore. It’s just so much work. And I know there’s a big payoff and I know for years and years we had a great marriage and a great thing. I just don’t know what I want anymore.
This season of Doomsday Preppers has seen a real focus on preppers gearing up for a national or global economic collapse. Silly preppers! Didn’t you know all it takes to avoid that is a trillion-dollar coin?
Brent is a little different in that he is preparing for survival after an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), which can come from any number of sources, some natural and some man-made. The Carrington event is the best known natural EMP, and the bad news is that we are in a period in time where our sun is pumping out solar flares and coronal mass ejections with disturbing frequency. To date, the large “X” class flares like those Mr. Carrington saw in 1859 have missed Earth, but if one fires in our direction, our advance warning may be measured only in days before the side of the planet facing the flare goes back to the Dark Ages when our entire electrical grid and every bit of un-shielded electrical barbeques itself. Think this is a fear of fiction or old news? Think again: a minor solar storm put six million in the dark in Canada as recently as 1989.
Our hero, however, is fearful of the manmade kind of EMP, which occurs when a nuclear device detonates high in the atmosphere, frying everything in its bird’s eye view. It’s not something to scoff at: the U.S. government has military experts that view a nuclear-triggered EMP as our greatest threat.
A former engineer and military officer, Brent is building a castle in western North Carolina to protect his ten children, ranging in age from 8-41. His medieval dream house has 6,000 square feet of living space above the dirt, and a 2,000 square-foot bunker below. He’s spent a million dollars on it so far, and it won’t even keep you dry.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “I’m preparing for an economic collapse that will lead to violent social unrest.”
Airing as the federal government technically went bankrupt and over the “fiscal cliff” it cannot possibly avoid or recover from, this episode, which featured preppers who are gearing up for an economic collapse of the U.S. government and the violent social unrest that will follow, now seems prescient. Our fiscal insolvency is finally starting to hit home with many Americans.
Dangerously, this comes at a time just weeks after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT, which Democratic politicians are using as a cudgel to push for extremely wide-ranging gun control and confiscation. The single most powerful newspaper in the United States—which is deeply in bed with the Obama regime—has published an editorial calling for the destruction of the Constitution. Another newspaper published an editorial calling for the brutal murders of Republican leaders by dragging them to death behind vehicles.
Americans have responded to this threat from the federal government by purchasing firearms at unprecedented levels. Local gun stores have sold out of even World War-era rifles, and the nation teeters on the edge of rebellion.
Prepping for “violent social unrest” is now incredibly real to many Americans for the first time.
All the preppers this season who have prepared for this eventuality — which are roughly half of the show’s participants this season — are no doubt on high alert. And who can blame them?
Reality television is on the cusp of becoming a horrible reality.
Untrusting of outside law enforcement, some Amish in Lancaster County, PA have for many years regularly turned to a small organized group of men for protection and justice. A sneak peek of Discovery’s new series Amish Mafia, which provides a first-ever look at the men who protect and maintain peace and order within the Amish community in Lancaster, will air Tuesday, December 11 at 10:30 PM ET/PT. The series will premiere Wednesday, December 12 at 9:00PM ET/PT.
The 2006 School shootings in Lancaster County during which five young Amish girls were killed and five more seriously injured by a non-Amish milk truck driver brought to the nation’s attention the vulnerabilities of the Amish community, and their need for continued protection.
When you think of the Amish, buggies, bonnets, peace and simplicity come to mind. In the historic Amish settlement of Lancaster, protection and “peace” can come at a price.
Lebanon Levi is the Amish insider who holds the power and serves as protector of the community for a price. He exists above the law and occupies the role of police, judge and jury. Levi’s team engages in a life outside of Amish and non-Amish community codes as he quietly exerts his influence and control. Levi’s brand of order is precise as he seeks to keep outside forces from infiltrating the Amish community, while keeping the principles and morality within the community in check.
Levi’s team is lean and fearless. Alvin is Levi’s right hand man and nobody gets to Levi without going through Alvin first. A lifelong friend, Alvin is at first glance an average passive Amish community member. However, he has a dark side, a past, and most importantly, Levi’s complete trust. Alvin will protect Levi at any cost.
At the beginning of every episode of Amish Mafia the producers admit that they utilize “select reenactments” in order to protect the innocent Amish. One need not watch much of the show to realize that everything is a reenactment and the documentary approach is just an aesthetic style. (Otherwise everyone involved in the show would be in jail as accessories to crimes. Stores depicted as “under Lebanon Levi’s protection” on the show make a big joke of it in real life.)
When “Reality TV” first began to rise in popularity more than a decade ago shows offered the thrill of supposedly “real people” overcoming real challenges out in the real world — not predictable, fictional characters in familiar scenarios with laugh tracks. But Amish Mafia amounts to little more than a sitcom shot in documentary style.
The show’s success speaks to culturally secular America’s continued need to wallow in criminality, the fantasy of vigilante justice, and the subversive thrill of blurring the sacred and the profane. If even a pious people like the Amish can’t get by without a corrupt thug-in-chief like Lebanon Levi to dispense his own brand of “justice,” then what hope is there for the rest of us?
More on reality TV at PJ Lifestyle:
The second season of Shahs of Sunset started airing on December 2. I know I’ll be the skunk at the Iranian-American garden party after admitting that I love the show. But I’m throwing down the gauntlet and challenging my fellow ex-pats (or anyone else for that matter) to refute any of the important points I’m about to make in defense of the flamboyant Reza Farahan and his Tehrangeles set.
To elaborate, I should explain that numerous Iranian-Americans, who seem to have even less objectivity after 30-plus years in exile, have whined about this show being an insult and/or a misrepresentation of Iranians-Americans: a Kardashianized disgrace, fabricated by the sacrilegious and intellectually challenged Hollywood producers.
In ’79, Iranians just flocked to Los Angeles and turned it into the hub Iranian enclave. They came because there had already been a thriving little Iranian community there since the ’40s; and also because the weather is nice. This is very likely what Iran would have looked like had the Khomeinist hordes not occupied the country. It’s basically Iran outside Iran, Tehran through the looking glass, a non-plus ultra.
It turns out that professors — even the ones with the authority to hire other professors — watch schlocky basic-cable programming. And from the Midwest to New England, curious members of hiring committees wanted to know: Does the show, which follows six Iranians in their 30s living in Los Angeles, accurately reveal what Iranian-Americans are really like?
Well, yes. This show offers so much more than just a snapshot of Iranian culture. It offers a glimpse of well-assimilated and prosperous Iranians.
In fact, I don’t see anything in the show that I don’t already know or cannot recognize as pretty darn Iran-American. In fact, some of these people could be my cousins and a perfect depiction of the Children of Cyrus, a man (the Achaemenids in general) who himself paraded his era’s bling-bling, not via reality TV but on bas-reliefs in the family “crib,” Persepolis!
Iranians are hostage to their own set of dizzying dichotomies and paradoxes, and our long history adds a hefty helping of the maudlin and precious. We learn at a tender age to surf Persian social riptides and chart crosscurrents like an art form, deconstructed by a few like Omid Djalili.
Margaret Ling fears that a catastrophic hurricane will devastate the city. Cameron Moore is preparing for the meltdown of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, a rather sketchy reactor on the east bank of the Hudson River north of the city. Stock trader Jay — who remembers 9/11 vividly — fears a dirty bomb. In this special Doomsday Preppers, these three team up with a team of experts and attempt to “escape from New York.”
Yes, like you I figured “they’re dead” before the opening credits completed but tempered my skepticism with the knowledge that this town has survived both terror attacks and Hurricane Sandy. Yes, they can be obnoxious, self-centered, and self-important, but they are survivors.
So… how did they do?
Bob Kay is a nutritional scientist who lives in Southern California and is prepping for a catastrophic earthquake. He describes the land under his feet as “Graham cracker crust” near where 5-6 major faults come together. Geologically speaking, if you live in Southern California and don’t prep, you might just be the one who is dangerously delusional.
As we’ve seen in graphic detail in recent decades, a major earthquake near large population areas can “pancake” overpasses and bridges, destroying roads and rails and leaving the affected area with severe bottlenecks at the most desperate of times. Bob’s plan is to turn his 2.5 acre property into an “oasis” where his family will have the supplies they need to ride out the chaos following a major quake.
Bob has six motorcycles of various types to get around regardless of road conditions following a major quake, and has spent tens of thousands of dollars in functional landscaping, from 300 types of edible plants and trees to thorny species that form subtle but effective barriers. He’s built a 35,000 gallon (concrete?!?) pool to use not just for recreation, but as a water source that he can filter and drink.
Storage Wars star Dave Hester today sued A&E and the producers of the reality show, calling it a staged “fraud on the public” Represented by attorney Marty Singer in his suit (read it here) Hester is seeking more that $3.75 million in damages and fees on five counts from the network and Original Productions for their actions and for firing him from the show. “When Plaintiff David Hester (“Hester”) complained to producers that A&E’s fraudulent conduct of salting and staging the storage lockers was possibly illegal, he was fired from the Series. As further evidence of Defendants’ outrageous conduct, they purported to rescind their written exercise of an option retaining Hester’s services this coming season,” says the 14-page complaint.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
NEW YORK (TheWrap.com) – Glenn Beck is launching a reality show with Vince Vaughn and Peter Billingsley to find great documentary filmmakers.
Vaughn is one of Hollywood’s highest profile conservatives, and a recent Ron Paul supporter. Billingsley, a producer and director who often works with Vaughn, is celebrated this time of year for his childhood role in the classic film “A Christmas Story.”
The new reality show, called “Pursuit of Truth,” will air on Beck’s TheBlazeTV. It will feature documentaries submitted to the show as it seeks “the world’s next great documentary filmmaker.” Twenty competitors will see the ultimate prize of financing and worldwide distribution.]
“I am proud to announce that Vince Vaughn and I are going to be the executive producers,” Beck said on his Wednesday radio show, according to Politico. “That should make everybody’s head spin. What the hell is Vince Vaughn doing with a crazy man? I know, that’s what my friends say. Glenn, what are you doing with the crazy man Vince Vaughn? Yes. It’s great, isn’t it? I love it.”
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Today from Roger L. Simon:
John Adrain is an inventor living on a cliff’s edge in the Pacific Northwest. He has a variety of fears, including nuclear fallout, natural disasters, and biological terrorist attacks. He’s worried about a lot.
Now, as much as I like teasing our preppers/victims each week, Mr. Adrain addresses something at the very beginning of his segment that has been bugging me for two bleeping years.
I don’t quite understand bugging out. Where are you going to bug out to? Because if there was some sort of a panic, people think they’re just going to get onto the freeway and drive somewhere? I think there’s a lot of problems with that. You’re better off being prepared where you are.
On behalf of sane people everywhere, thank you, Mr. Adrain, for pointing out the common-sense idea that so many people on this show just don’t seem to grasp.
Adrain is serious about his home-defense prepping. Did I mention he lives in a house perched on a cliff? Natural geological defense worked against the rampaging hordes, and his home takes advantage of natural terrain. While he didn’t go for a moat, he did splurge on a military base-security-grade steel gate that will stop a 10-ton vehicle going (if I heard the narrator correctly) 50 MPH.
Then he tickled this gunnie’s heart.
On the chance that a vehicle does breach the perimeter, Adrain wants a weapon that will penetrate the engine block or passenger compartment with equal ease. His cartridge of choice is the .50 Beowulf, a cartridge yours truly has fired on multiple occasions both in the recommended semi-auto and the absurdly entertaining full-auto, as shown on the next page.
Dr. Tom Perez is a retired chiropractor in Houston, TX. He lives with his wife Monica, daughter Kat, and sons Tommy and Matthew, and they prepare for a terrorist attack (specifically, a radiological dirty bomb). If that happens, and society panics, Dr. Perez plans to bug out to a 700-acre ranch 300 miles to the west in Bracketville, TX, near the Mexican border.
Brackettville was once home to Fort Clark, home to horse-mounted cavalry units from the 1850s up until World War II. It is perhaps best known as the location in which John Wayne starred as Davy Crockett in The Alamo. The Perez family compound borrowed that name for their two limestone homes… rather macabre, when you consider the name is synonymous with a doomed last stand.
Doomsday Preppers, by it’s very nature (hint, the title includes “Doomsday”), finds the most extreme preppers, and the Perez family breaks the mold in more ways than one. The family has spent ten years and more than $2 million to build the compound into a prepper’s fortress, which is to my knowledge the most money spent by any prepper in any season of the show. He has a windmill and concrete cisterns of more than 2,000 gallons.
The two buildings boast bullet-resistant walls, steel bars over the windows, security cameras, and the entire compound is surrounded by a 7′ high barbed-wire fence. He’s “contaminated” 10 percent of the food and water as a trap for those who would steal from him. He has 46,000 rounds of ammunition, enough cartridges, as the narrator points out, to shoot everyone in the entire county 12 times.
Last week’s premiere of National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers was every bit the train wreck we’ve come to expect from the series, which features eccentric disaster-preparedness fanatics spending tens of thousands of dollars (or more) to prepare for a variety of disaster scenarios.
Tennessee-based prepper Big Al was afraid of a Soviet nuclear attack, and somehow thought that Valdimir Putin would give him enough time to drive halfway across a continent to his questionably safe wood-heated underground bunker. Future serial killer Jason Beacham coldly planned to leave his mom behind and pal around with knuckleheads his own age that might one day make a good meal. The Southwick family was the only family on last week’s episode that seemed to have a chance of lasting more than a few days, though the smallpox outbreak scenario the family patriarch was preparing against was farfetched at best.
The second episode, “Bad Times All the Times,” is a bit less insane than last week’s show, and actually offered up two prepper families that have a shot at surviving… along with a third that may end up split by the self-deportation to Colombia of the most rational person the show has seen since it’s been on the air.
The summer of 1996 was a rough season for eastern North Carolina. Hurricane Bertha roared ashore as a Category 2 storm in July, and a soggy month later Hurricane Fran hit even harder as a Category 3 storm. I was with my girlfriend (now wife) and saw 100-year-old oaks drop all around us, crushing cars and apartment buildings. We were without power for most of a week. It left an impression.
We’d graduated and moved to Durham, NC, survived the hysteria of the Y2K scare, and had no reason to expect much of consequence when the local weather told us there was going to be “a couple of inches” of snow the evening of January 24, 2000. When it finally stopped falling the next day, we had 22 inches on our back porch, and I had a very pregnant wife in her third trimester. For most of the next week, we were prisoners in our home.
Shortly after our daughter was born I pursued an opportunity in New York. We were in New Windsor, near Stewart Airport, when American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 almost collided overhead. I’ve always thought it would have been better if they had. Shortly afterward, they smashed into the World Trade Center towers and changed our world.
I relate all this merely to establish that my own life experiences have made me very aware of the fact that catastrophic disasters, both man-made and natural, can happen at any time, and anywhere, to anyone. Because of these experiences, I’m sympathetic to the concept of disaster preparation, or “prepping” as a form of life insurance for those you love.
And then there is Doomsday Preppers, the National Geographic Channel hit that returned this week with the premiere episode of its second season (which, bizarrely, is the second episode … don’t ask why). For those of you unfamiliar with the show, I’d describe it as the paranoid version of MTV’s Jersey Shore with dumber livestock.
Preppers is in the very loosest sense “reality television,” in that those people starring in the show aren’t actors, but the scenarios and editing are both contrived and far-fetched, or at least you hope they are. Last season was a train wreck, and if last night’s premiere (second episode?) was an omen of things to come, we can expect more of it this season.
The format of the show breaks an hour-long program into segments focusing on three different sets of preppers, each preparing for some sort of catastrophe.
Last night’s episode was appropriately titled “Am I nuts or are you?” The characters featured were much what you would expect from the title.
Isn’t it great when Marxists eschew the Saul Alinsky strategy of obscuring their unpopular objectives and instead return to the New Left tradition of openly stating their destructive goals?
Please, by all means, start telling us all about how you want to destroy each institution that sustains Western civilization.
Check out this fantastic piece at The New Inquiry by Madeleine Schwartz, “The Anti-Family,” lamenting that MTV’s Teen Mom show “does not attempt radical advocacy”:
In presenting these relationships in with dignity, Teen Mom acknowledges what it viewers may not wish to know: this is the shape of the family in America today. The show does not attempt radical advocacy, but it does understand that the most fundamental patterns in American life can’t be covered up. Teen motherhood, single motherhood, unmarried cohabitation—these are not plagues or social ills that pose a threat to the otherwise normal structures of everyday life. They are our new social reality.
What the show doesn’t get to is that this is a good thing.
There is nothing wrong with teenage or single motherhood. The things children need: economic livelihood, emotional support and an education, are not dependent on a nuclear family structure. Poverty is poverty whether it’s endured by two people or four. A couple cannot raise a child better than one can. Once we get rid of the idea that marriage is the privileged form of cohabitation and that women cannot raise children without the help of a man—ideas that the Left has been working to eradicate for decades—there is no reason that a teen should not be financially and emotionally assisted for her choice to have a family. The potential diffusion of the family (as the New York Times recently reported, it doesn’t look like the trends will stop anytime soon) is one of the most exciting things to happen to the American social pattern since sexual liberation. It means the end of what were just decades ago universal truths: every household must be headed by a breadwinning man; only when married will a woman have social value.
The problem is not teen motherhood. The problem is the legal system that makes the lives of teenage and single parents impossible. The shaming and belittling of teenage mothers is not just rhetoric: Teenage parents are actively discriminated against. Teen parents cannot receive financial assistance unless they live with their parents or marry. They cannot get welfare if they are not enrolled in an educational program.. In some cases, the state can deny all benefits to babies born to unmarried teenage parents. Welfare reform has taken money earmarked for families in need and diverted it toward programs aimed at promoting marriage and abstinence (For example: “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage”). All of this comes on top of the routine discriminations against single parents—higher insurance and tax rates, difficulties in obtaining housing and jobs—and those against the poor, who with the Hyde Amendment may not even have been able to abort if they had wanted. These policies were created with the explicit goal encouraging a two-parent model. They make any other option out of the question.
One almost reads stuff like this and wonders if it’s some Onion-style parody of Marxism. “The problem is the legal system that makes the lives of teenage and single parents impossible.” Translation: the real problem is that the United States has not fully implemented a wealth redistribution apparatus to subsidize teenage moms who “choose” to become single parents. Hmm… How might anyone manage that in the next four years?
I have written for The Believer, The New Yorker online, The New Inquiry and The Daily, among other places. My work has been referenced in The Atlantic and The Economist.
Until May 2012, I was an undergraduate at Harvard, where I studied ancient and Renaissance history. As a student, I wrote a column about women at the university for The Crimson, was an editor at The Advocate and worked for the head of the Harvard library. From 2010 to 2011, I was a Ledecky Fellow at Harvard Magazine.
I am currently studying at Oxford as a Henry Fellow.
I wonder how how much money Schwartz has spent on her education…
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive are two of the most perversely entertaining shows on television. Both feature efforts to help people who’ve crammed their homes with so much trash, animals, or gaudy treasures that it’s almost impossible to move. Most of the time, they have trouble using the bathroom and have to cook in tiny, dangerous spaces. They often end up sleeping on garbage. Some of these people even end up crapping in buckets and sharing their crumbling houses with lizards and rats because there is just so much junk in the way that they don’t feel like they have any other choice.
It’s easy to feel superior to someone so damaged that he’d live in a cluttered pile of filth that most of us wouldn’t let our dogs wander into, but there are actually some deep insights into human behavior that you can pick up from watching the shows, even if your house doesn’t look like it was picked up by a tornado and dropped into the city dump.
1) We can become accustomed to even the worst of problems instead of fixing them.
Many of the hoarders you see on those shows have gotten used to living in homes where they hear rats rustling around at night or where it smells so bad that first-time visitors struggle not to vomit. That’s possible not just because we humans are very adaptable creatures with a talent for lying to ourselves, but because we take many of our cues about what’s acceptable from the people around us. Since hoarders are ashamed of the mess they live in, they tend to isolate themselves from other people who might note that they shouldn’t eat food with mold on it or just start peeing in a jug every day instead of getting the toilet fixed. Give it a few years for things to deteriorate and next thing you know, it makes sense to a hoarder that they slept on a four year old bag of doughnuts last night.
Human beings, by their very nature, are all vulnerable to this same process. So, it’s worth asking yourself, “Have I let my standards slide and told myself there’s no other choice? Is there anything I’m doing that I’m so ashamed of that I have to hide it from people? Have I accepted something in my life as ‘just the way it is’ when I should be doing the hard work it takes to make my life better?”
Tony Robbins has noted, “The only way for us to have long-term happiness is to live by our highest ideals.“ Whether it’s hoarding or some other problem, ultimately our happiness will depend on tackling it rather than learning to live with a self-imposed limitation.