Layers of Deception

So, I'm watching Anthony Bourdain in Sicily. He is taken out on a fishing trip to catch cuttlefish. He is skeptical about the site his guide brings him to: it looks too well-trafficked with other boats to really provide a good fishing site. But he dives in the water with a facemask on and begins looking for cuttlefish. Then he is betrayed! A colleague of the fishing guide, from another boat, begins to throw dead cuttlefish in the water, so that the stupid tourists can "catch" them and be happy. What deceit! And Bourdain and his crew have caught it all on film.

Except... wait a second: the fishing guide obviously knew there was a whole film crew out there recording his and his colleague's actions. They knew the crew was filming them throwing dead cuttlefish into the water. They could not have been so stupid that they would think that they could get away with this. So I'm forced to conclude that it is actually Anthony Bourdain who is the deceiver here: he must have asked the fishing guide to engage in this stunt for the purposes of giving his show an interesting story line. So a show supposedly exposing the deceits of Sicilian fishing guides is actually the deceit on the part of the host of the show.

In the next scene, Bourdain reports to us that he was so depressed after suffering through this scam that he went and got "plastered." He went to dinner that night at a restaurant, but later he could not even remember who he had eaten with or what he had had.

Yet, we know there was no reason for him to be depressed, since he had set up the dead cuttlefish plantings in the first place. And throughout the dinner during which he was "too plastered" to remember a single detail, we see him on camera, holding a completely coherent conversation while barely slurring his words. So he was not "plastered" at all, and surely remembered everything that happened.

But Bourdain obviously takes if for granted that his the members of his audience are nitwits, who will swallow this all whole.


  1. Anonymous6:56 PM

    In many cases--dare I say in most cases--he's probably right (that his audience-members are nitwits). Nothing against you, Gene--you can apparently see through it--but when it comes to the television or films, most people entirely loose their cognitive and logical faculties. Much of this is because the average person has no knowledge of film/television production, the ins and outs of how it's done, what's in the contracts of the parties involved, what sponsored opinions have been paid for, etc.

    People forget that it is entertainment, that these things are written (even the supposed reality shows, judge shows, news shows, or whatever else you can throw in there that is supposedly "real"). Obviously, that is the entire goal of a production, to make the viewer suspend disbelief and whatnot, but many shows try to give you the initial impression that this is not what is going on (when it is). Further, when it comes to the things that truly are spontaneous or unscripted, a good editing can really make a particular storyline truly unfold. Much of the time the sequence of scenes in the final edit aren't even from the same day or the same temporal trajectory.

    I'm not frowning upon media production, I am a big fan of it and its techniques, but I also think that it helps to understand what it actually is.


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