Decoding 'Sarah Palin's Alaska': 'Work ethic is like the biggest life lesson'
It’s time once again to look at the messages Sarah Palin and company are sending with her ostensibly apolitical new reality show. In this week’s episode, we visited the shooting range where Sarah’s girlfriends held her first baby shower and “the halibut capital of the world,” learning some Real Alaskan Life Lessons along the way.
1. As long as you keep talking about working hard and getting dirty, most people won’t think too hard about what you actually do for a living.
Sarah and Bristol set out for “a mother-daughter day of commercial fishing” so the younger Palin can, in her mother’s words, “get back to some of that sweat-of-the-brow, blue collar, tough work that she is really used to doing.” Really? A few highlights from the “Career” section of Bristol Palin’s Wikipedia entry: Founder of “BSMP, a lobbying, public relations and political consulting services firm”; guest star on “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”; abstinence spokesperson for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy; and, oh yes, controversial finalist on “Dancing With the Stars.” To be fair, though, I have no data on how many long years of “blue collar, tough work” Bristol might have done prior to age 17.
Bristol, meanwhile, informs us that she enjoyed seeing her mother club, gut, ice and scale freshly caught halibut, because “work ethic is like the biggest life lesson, and it’ll outline your kids’ future.” Never mind that this episode involved interrupting numerous hardworking Alaskans’ productivity to film these two going through the motions of manual labor for a couple of days. Or that Sarah mentioned right at the beginning of the episode that she gets up early because “a lot of [her] professional work is on East Coast time” -- that is, the work she does from that TV studio in her back yard. Or that she compared having fish guts hosed off her to getting a spray tan. Just an ordinary Alaskan, y’all.
2. Safety first! Well, right after protecting profits.
Sarah explains why the first order of business when faced with an enormous, freshly caught halibut is to knock the sucker out with a billy club: “You have to stun it, otherwise it’s gonna flop around and bruise its own meat.” Meat that goes for five or six bucks a pound, people! Oh, and p.s., a flopping fish that size is “also dangerous enough where it could slap somebody around and really injure a person.”
3. Big families are a blessing. Without them, you’d have to pay people to watch your toddlers while you have adventures.
Sarah and Todd’s youngest, Trig, gets dropped off at Grandma and Grandpa’s before the Palin “family vacation” even begins, and Bristol’s wee Tripp is presumably in the capable hands of Aunt Willow while Mommy learns the proper techniques for firing a rifle and bludgeoning a halibut. Being a busy political celebrity or a teen mom is no sweat when you’ve got half a dozen handy relatives to stash the rugrats with! Why didn’t these liberals whining about longer parental leave and universal day care have the foresight to surround themselves with free babysitters?
4. The antidote to media overexposure is more media exposure.
Sarah: “The last couple of years have been pretty challenging for Bristol because so often, what it is that she does ends up in the tabloids, because of someone that she had been associated with.” Well, at least you have to give the former governor credit for recognizing that it must be tough to be her daught... Oh wait, I think she’s talking about Levi. “So Todd and I really wanted to get her away from all of that and to refocus on what truly matters in her life.” Such as performing on her mother’s reality show!
A strong work ethic is nice and all, but I think this week Bristol learned an even more important life lesson: Having cameras follow your every move can be a good thing, as long as someone who loves you has an executive producer credit.
-- Kate Harding
Photo: Sarah Palin sorts fish in Homer, Alaska. Credit: Gilles Mingasson/TLC.