If you have ever watched "The Amazing Race" TV show on CBS network, you know the protocol. A diverse collection of two-person teams race around the world at breakneck pace, stopping at various tourist traps, landmarks and special events. At these colorful pit stops, they are usually required to participate in various contests and exercises: scaling mountains and walls and ladders into the stratosphere; dancing some intricate local tribal dances or engaging in some arcane ceremony; answering questions and quizzes about the history of wherever they are, and so forth. After they perform some telegenic activity (whilst inevitably arguing with each other about who is going to do it, who is right, etc)... they pick up the sacred clue to the next location, and off they go. The last pair to arrive at each locale is eliminated, until finally, there is one pair left, who are thereby proclaimed the winners.
Needless to say, it probably isn't easy to find distinctive, cool places to send the contestants. There is a bit of a travelogue on each show, as narrators quickly explain local history and customs, and provide interesting details, such as how many feet into the air they will have to climb, or how far away they are from such-and-such or so-and-so. It all tends to run together, so the challenge is to make each new location stand out and become uniquely interesting to the viewer.
Sometimes a locale is obviously chosen strictly for its emotional or political value, to stop viewers from getting bored and picking up that deadly remote. Or to get some drama going from the contestants' reactions to such a place.
On the March 17th show, it was Hanoi. HANOI.
I was somewhat dumbfounded.
As soon as I saw the smashed-up B-52, I thought, oh shit. I saw that coming like a freight train.
And then I instantly wondered... who is working for CBS? Who is working for "The Amazing Race"? Do they not associate with regular people out here in the American heartland? Do they understand the emotional reaction to a downed American B-52 from The Vietnam War? Good Lord.
Well, John McCain did, and a bunch of other veterans did, too. The shit hit the fan in short order.
Usually, it is "Amazing Race" contestants with loose lips that stir up controversy for being insensitive, offensive, or ugly Americans while dashing around the less scenic or underprivileged countries of the world on the competition reality show. But with last week's Vietnam-based episode, it was the producers and network that found themselves on the receiving end of public backlash.And yes, they got their official apology.
Veterans, conservative newscasters, politicians like Arizona Sen. John McCain, and plenty of the show's fans were upset that the show filmed at the site of a crashed U.S. B-52 bomber, and featured a segment where players had to listen to a pro-communist anthem being sung in front of a portrait of Ho Chi Minh and then find one of the song's lyrics in a sea of propaganda posters. Vietnam War veteran and American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz sent a letter to CBS Thursday, asking that the network apologize for "its disgraceful slap-in-the face administered to American war heroes. We only wish that the network would not be so eager to broadcast anti-American propaganda."
From the National Post:
Senator John McCain is among those who have accepted CBS’ apology for a passage on The Amazing Race where contestants visited the wreckage of an American B-52 bomber in Vietnam, writing on Twitter that the “issue is closed.”For my part, I continue to be amazed at the mainstream media's general cluelessness about such matters. I could have easily predicted this reaction, as everyone I know could too.
The national commander of the American Legion, James Koutz, has also accepted the apology. Commander Koutz said said he believed it was sincere and heartfelt.
The segment aired March 17 and angered many veterans, particularly those who served in the Vietnam War. As part of its scavenger hunt game, contestants on the show had to visit the site in Hanoi, which Vietnamese authorities turned into a memorial.
Before this Sunday’s edition of The Amazing Race, host Phil Keoghan read a statement apologizing to veterans and families who may have been offended.
As I asked, above: WHO works for these people? Didn't anybody on the show's staff speak up and say, "Hey, ya think maybe this isn't such a good idea?"