Sunday, 29 April 2007

The Amazing Race 11 (All-Star Edition), Episode 11

Macau SAR (China) - Andersen Air Force Base (U.S. Territory of Guam) - U.S. Naval Base Guam (U.S. Territory of Guam) - Fort Soledad (U.S. Territory of Guam)

The growing popularity of The Amazing Race and its continued status as the only travel show on primetime national commercial broadcast television in the USA has made the producers of the race increasingly the focus of pitches from government tourism promotion officials eager to see their country, region, or city portrayed favorably on television as a destination for tourists.

This week there was a new twist: instead of a “product placement ” for a destination or a product, the bulk of the episode was a product placement for the U.S. military.

Guam remains a colony of the USA (a “territory” governed by a Congress and a President for whom Guamanians have no vote) primarily because of its militarily advantageous location. Much of the territory is off-limits to local people, tourists, or or any other civilians, unless they have permission from the military. So for most of this episode the racers had military drivers and escorts.

The “roadblock” (“a choice between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons”) could have been a choice between “killing” and “dying”. Instead, it was a choice between two tasks whose descriptions had in common only the word “care”, and the military was repeatedly cast in the role of helpers and rescuers.

The racers weren’t doing anything you could do if you go to Guam — unless you get there by enlisting in the military. If there’s any lesson in this for travellers, it’s that there are as many differences between typical tourist experiences and the images in tourism marketing materials as there are between real life in the military and the pictures painted by military recruiters.

These differences between the race and reality are not as unusual as one might imagine. More native-born U.S. citizens have travelled outside the First World in the military than as tourists. In much of the world — including some of the places with the largest numbers of people from the USA — those Americans mostly live in all-American (or at least all-foreign) enclaves such as military bases or residential and employment “compounds” for oil workers and other expatriates. Often those areas are off-limits to local people or to tourists without an invitation and perhaps an escort.

Local people’s opinions of America and Americans are often shaped, for better or worse, by their attitudes toward those who live within the walls they’ve built to close themselves off from the locals. So you can’t ignore the presence or impact of these other foreigners. But your experience of a place like Guam or Nigeria as a tourist may be very different from that of someone who saw it from the inside of a military base or an oil-workers’ compound.

Link | Posted by Edward on Sunday, 29 April 2007, 23:59 (11:59 PM)

the beauty queens look so cool...........

Posted by: janice, 14 May 2007, 20:31 ( 8:31 PM)

I have beef with your comment! My husband is a pilot in the USAF and was actually working with the Amazing Race people in Guam. Despite what you may write the US military does help the people in and around Guam. Every Christmas time in December, our husbands leave our homes to fly down to Guam and release care packages to people who can't get provisions any other way. Try telling the families of the men and women who are alone at Christmas that their husbands/wives aren't helping others. Before you make blanket statements please consider the impact that your statement may make in others. My husband is a brave and heroic man who is constantly leaving me alone in Japan to help serve our country and protect the lives of its citizens so that they an say whatever they want about our country and government.

Posted by: Sonia, 20 May 2007, 04:06 ( 4:06 AM)

Hafa Adai! im just writting to let you know that the way you are portraying my island and the relationship with America is very wrong. What you are forgetting to mention is that WE ARE AMERICANS... how dare you make it sound as if we are second class citizens.... i hope before writting another blog you resaerch a little more!

Posted by: Guamanain/American/Chamorro, 11 June 2007, 07:01 ( 7:01 AM)

Second class citizen seems about right:

- We can't vote

- We have "symbolic" representation in congress

- The US has captured 1/3 of the land on the island

- This land is off limits, with its own stores with cheaper goods and seperate schools for American military children

Sounds like colonialism to me--or the American South pre-civil rights...

Posted by: Anonymous, 27 January 2008, 01:46 ( 1:46 AM)
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