There’s a German television crew in town today – two men producing a show much like the CBC’s ‘Land and Sea’. They’ve been in Gaultois for a week. I am pleased that they are here.
I appreciate being reminded that the world values this outport way of life so much that, Europe would send two men overseas for nearly three weeks to get eaten by black flies, and rent helicopters costing $1,600/hour – while mainland Canada, and urban Newfoundland, couldn’t care less.
But I don’t think the rest of McCallum is as excited about the media’s arrival as I am. I think McCallum’s concerns have something to do with trust, which means I too have concerns because if, by me supporting this hard-working team of documentary-makers, McCallum folks question whether I’m safe to be around, that’s bad for me. I’ve put too much effort into building respectful relationships in this isolated outport, to allow such connections to slip away.
Not that these German men aren’t great guys – they are. But that this community and its people have been jerked around by so many outsiders over so many years, McCallum folks are more cautious than I am when the media shows up.
I come from a culture where any publicity is considered a good thing. There are no shortages of ‘attention prostitutes’ on the mainland who will do anything – ANYTHING – to get themselves on TV.
They don’t care how many times they’re exploited, who does the deed, or how much dignity they sacrifice along the way… As long as they are getting attention, everything is good with their world.
You can see it in their Facebook profiles where they post pictures that say, “Hey, look who I’m standing beside! He just got out of jail for beating his wife and selling drugs to children but, he’s famous so, I must be something special too, eh?” Or look at how ridiculously people carry on when the camera comes upon them at a hockey game – they start jumping up and down, screaming at the top of their lungs, puffing out their chests, shaking their heads, and showing off their biceps. What’s that crazy behaviour all about?
Plus, it was only six weeks ago that the CBC sent a young, talented journalist into this town to record McCallum’s story in such a way that a lot of people didn’t appreciate. I thought the young artist’s work was outstanding (and I know he loved it here), but he did focus on this community’s potential for death, not a good way to make friends and influence people in a town where folks are hurt by such reminders.
No wonder so many McCallum folks are cautious about anyone new coming to town – especially those carrying a camera. What did such outsiders ever do for them? Attract tourism? How does that help them? McCallum tourism helps two families – the one that owns the bed and breakfast, and the other that owns the store.
I’m happy for both those parties, but McCallum’s other forty households don’t earn a penny from such promotion, while media outlets make fortunes. So I’m not surprised that, when the media visits McCallum, they make the majority of the community uncomfortable – so much so that, I won’t be giving visiting media any assistance anymore. It’s just not worth it to me to risk the respectful relationships I’ve built in McCallum over the past six years – the ones built on trust.