You would think with the number of times that the mainstream media have received criticism for their representation of indigenous groups that no one could possibly approve a show called Tribal Teens. But you’d be wrong, because it’s exactly what the UK’s Channel 5 did. The new show sends off spoiled kids to remote areas to teach them a lesson, or something like that. And the first episode, which airs tonight, focuses on 16-year-old Alex from Reading and 18-year-old Ethan from London sent to live with the Ashaninka community in the Peruvian Amazon, according to the Daily Mail.
Not surprisingly, at the outset Alex, who longs for Topshop, lives up her “pampered princess” persona by belittling their way of life. “They are sleeping on wooden planks, pissing in a hole in the ground and washing in a dirty river, how long are we here for?” she said, without realizing how effed up it is to use these words to talk about someone’s way of living when it’s not just an experiment for them. The quotes released for Ethan aren’t as infuriating, but that’s probably because he didn’t have much to say since he lazily avoided doing any work at the beginning.
The two appear to change by the end of their time with the Ashaninka community, but it’s problematic to use this group’s life as entertainment – especially when the teens will return to their cushy lives eventually. And though the teens may pat themselves on the back for their week out in the rainforest, it’ll probably end up more on the wearing a headdress to Coachella level of offensive.
Hopefully, I am proven wrong, because I haven’t checked out the episode, and all I can do is judge based on the clips.