Last One Standing: Cultural Reality TV?

By Guest Columnist Nov 19, 2007

by Thanu Yakupitiyage A couple of weeks ago I walked past a bus stop in mid-town Manhattan and halted dead in my tracks at the sight of a large poster of a white man wrestling down what appeared to be an indigenous tribesman. It was an advertisement for the new co-produced BBC and Discovery Channel Reality Television Show, Last One Standing, with the slogan, “Welcome to Full Contact Culture.” The show follows six Western athletes from the U.S and U.K as they travel to different parts of the world to learn the ‘warrior’ traditions of indigenous tribesmen, from wrestling in the Amazon, stick fighting in South Africa, to tribal cricket in the South Pacific islands. Discovery Channel is picking up their pace, and instead of just showing indigenous people in their ‘natural habitat’, they are joining the reality TV show race to show what will happen when Western men engage with these unknown cultures! Paulo Fridman/Discovery Channel I’m not sure if I am more offended by the supposed thrill of seeing five white guys (the sixth is the token black of course) “getting down” like tribesmen do in a chest-thumping, testosterone driven “I’m a man- hear me roar” kind of way; or the bit about reducing indigenous cultures to a mere eco-tourism sport for the traveling Westerner that gets me the most riled up. Either way, Last One Standing, continues the trend of reality shows that package ‘culture’ for the sake of entertainment.