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Decoding 'Sarah Palin's Alaska': Doing Potentially Deadly Rugged Alaskan Things

Palinbuzz In every episode of "Sarah Palin's Alaska," there's at least one moment in which someone goes on and on about the grave risk involved in whatever our heroine's going to do next, building viewer expectations so high you begin to wonder if she really survived filming the series, or if the final episode will reveal that the Sarah Palin seen in public over the last six months has actually been an android.

But then, inevitably, she does the Potentially Deadly Rugged Alaskan Thing in question and breaks neither sweat nor nail. At this point in the season, I'm beginning to feel a little ripped off; if she's never going to get mauled by a bear or crushed beneath heavy machinery, it's just not fair to keep teasing us. 

I kid, I kid! But seriously, last night's episode featured even more of those moments than usual, and offered a fascinating window into Palin's perception of danger.

Activity: Logging

Expectation of dangerous problems: High. Before Palin uses a chainsaw to cut into an enormous tree, we're warned that if she hits a knot, the blade could kick back into her face. Before said tree falls, we're warned that she could end up under it. Before she operates a shovel logger, we're warned that she could accidentally send the log flying right back through the window of the cab.

Why she conquered her fear and did it anyway: Because it's real Alaskan hard work, and if this show is about anything, it's about Sarah Palin showing her kids what it's like to put in an hour or so of hard work for the camera.

Actual dangerous problems encountered: 0. Zzzzzzzz.

Activity: Stock car racing

Expectation of dangerous problems: High. It's stock car racing. If that doesn't tell you all you need to know, watch as Willow dons a fireproof suit, then shimmies into the car and announces that she feels claustrophobic wedged in there. What if the engine explodes?

Why she conquered her fear and encouraged her unlicensed, 16-year-old daughter do it anyway: Because Willow's not competitive enough to want to crush her father like Sarah does. Seriously. Sarah tells Todd, who's already driven the course, “I don’t want her to crash, but I want her to go fast, because I want her to have a competitive bone in her body. I want her to beat you."

Actual dangerous problems encountered: 1. Sorta. After successfully competing three laps, Willow doesn't finish with quite as much aplomb, finally coming to a complete stop in a hill of dirt.

"Seeing Willow crash made the mama grizzly in me come out," says Palin in a later interview, but it's a little hard to swallow, given that she reacted to the "crash" by ambling down toward the car and (on finding Willow uninjured and giggling) hollering, "That was awesome!"

The dubbed sirens were a nice touch, though.

 Activity: Bear watching

Expectation of dangerous problems: High, especially because the guide carries no gun. Never mind his professional opinion that bear spray "tends to be more effective anyway"; we’re still treated to Palin rolling her eyes, mocking the dirty hippie guide, and acting terrified of venturing into bear country unarmed.

Why she conquered her fear to do it anyway: There was a camera.

Actual dangerous problems encountered: 0. When they run across bears, the guide calmly but firmly instructs the group to... sit down and watch them, this being an observation trip and all. (He even brought chairs, so they don't have to get their butts wet.) The only casualty we see is one unfortunate salmon, although Sarah predictably identifies ferociousness in the eyes of a mother frolicking with her babies.

"When I watch a mama bear in her natural habitat, protecting her cubs, I get it,” she tells the camera.

 Activity: Deforesting Alaska

Expectation of dangerous problems: Low

Why she has no fear: "The amazing thing about this industry," she explains, "is that when one tree is cut down, several trees will grow in its place." In other news, every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.

But seriously, there's no reason to worry about deforestation, because Palin is confident that faceless corporations will always do the right thing, for the right reasons. "Because these folks are so concerned with being good stewards of the land, they're ensuring the sustainability of their industry forever."

Also, stupid liberals are hypocrites! "Conservationists write me nasty letters because I support an industry like this," Palin complains. "They write me these nasty letters using their pretty little pencils on their pretty little stationery, not realizing: Where do you think your pencil and your piece of paper came from, people? It came from a tree that was harvested!"

Well, that point certainly makes one think. About who, apart from second graders, writes letters to elected representatives in pencil. But hey, this is Sarah Palin's Alaska, and the rules out here are different.

Actual dangerous problems encountered: Sob.

-- Kate Harding

Photo: Sarah Palin in "Sarah Palin's Alaska." Credit: Gilles Mingasson / TLC

Comments () | Archives (36)

Sarah Palin's Alaska is not produced for people who are very intelligent. TLC is not the channel chosen by intellectual giants--but they were willing to pay for Sarah's reality show. Voters who elected Palin to be the mayor of Wasilla have an average education level of 10th grade--this speaks volumes to Levi who is working on getting his GED. Sarah and Bristol and Willow and even Piper have never been described as "being smarter than the average bear." It is hard not to laugh when Sarah Palin is watching a Mama Bear kill a fish and she say this is an example of how Mama Grizzlies protect their young (from a fish????)

Great read on her and her 'show.' She is a faux celebrity, who shows contempt for anyone who doesn't kiss her high heels and send money (lots of money.) I have nothing but contempt for her and her whiny children. Hey, Sarah, actual mothering requires you to be at home to help with homework, listen to real problems and try to help. I have not seen the show, but I understand there is nary a book to be seen in this mansion for millionaires. Of course not.

Wow. You just can't give this woman a break. Personally, I've never seen this side of Alaska and find it fascinating. It's also impressive that a politician can actually "hang" in the wild. Name another. Nope. Didn't think so.

I disagree about the danger here.

Handling a logging chain saw, in any way, is EXTREMELY dangerous.

This show went way too far allowing Palin or anyone to actually cut down a tree without training, experience and much better protective gear.

The only valid criticism to make of this episode was its recklessness.

What I find even worse than Sarah Palin's show is the amount of truly bad writing done by otherwise decent writers in the name of knocking her show.

This is a horrifying situation. Kate Harding's article competes with anything Palin has ever said when it comes to being pointless and stupid.

I guess this is one of those proverbial "race to the bottom" situations.

Please God don't let the liberals don't win this particular race!

"About who, apart from second graders, writes letters to elected representatives in pencil. "

Minor nitpick, but, nevertheless, Sarah Palin is not an "elected respresentative," - she's a quitter of elected office.

I really don't know what it would take to get people to see what is so obvious - Sarah Palin is a fake, money-grubbing, horrible mom and human being.

Oh well, maybe her show will keeps her followers still long enough to protect them from sharp table edges.

Is there truly, truly, TRULY anyone out there who needs further proof that this woman is an idiot???? TRULY????????????? Folks in this country, including myself, should focus on the REAL heroes and relevant events, and it sure would BE *%&*$# HANDY if the media would oblige!!!!!

BTW, Sarah (and any of you pro-Palin types): If you've ever had any doubt that there are myriads of women out here in the real world who have spent their lives up to their elbows performing difficult labor/tasks/endeavors of ALL types, you've been living in a sad little cocoon of IGNORANCE.

Oh boy, another week, another episode, another reason for you faceless blogger chick to criticize Sarah Palin. Again, I ask why? Because she's proud of her home state? She's out there, showing people fascinating things about a fascinating place - Alaska. I ask, have you ever been there? Ever been out of your lonely darkened living room or wherever you're holed up with your laptop making your snarky comments? Why don't you go up and experience the life and then give us your comments. Until then, step off, shut your piehole on the personal stuff and just review the show huh?

Can she go one episode, tweet or communicate in anyway that isn't so self-centered, agressive and defensive? Her show about family and Alaska is more like watching her family forced to support her narcissm and absorb her anger and pettiness while she uses Alaska as a prop to try to advance herself. This could have been an interesting show if she had approached it like an adult rather than a forum her self-created greivances.

to all liberals out there, please stop watching Sarah Palin Alaska... this is the only way and cure to your crazyness over the Palins. Get a life and make something useful of your sorry lives!

*********Oh boy, another week, another episode, another reason for you faceless blogger chick to criticize Sarah Palin. Again, I ask why? Because she's proud of her home state? She's out there, showing people fascinating things about a fascinating place - Alaska. I ask, have you ever been there? Ever been out of your lonely darkened living room or wherever you're holed up with your laptop making your snarky comments? Why don't you go up and experience the life and then give us your comments. Until then, step off, shut your piehole on the personal stuff and just review the show huh?

Posted by: lostfansincedayone | December 27, 2010 at 01:11 PM***********

Dear lostfansincedayone,

If you would get off your sofa and stop imagining the world through the eyes of a "Lost Fan" then you may realize that there are plenty of other channels that show much more informative documentaries about Alaska. One does not need to get out of "your lonely darkened living room" in order to change the channel to something much more informative than "Sarah Palin's Alaska". Smart people see this as what it is. A self centered neophyte who craves attention and will go to any means in order to get it. You are being taken in by a grifter, a Carnival Hawker. This show gives you nothing more than Sarah's opinion and view of this great state, and from what I have gathered, the majority of people in the State of Alaska would just prefer to forget her and the fact that she was ever their "half term Governor". So you should shut your "pie hole".

Anybody else notice the danger that Sarah Palin didn't take on herself but subjected her 9 year old daughter to? Piper Palin was riding in the Sarah driven car/SUV without a seatbelt on. Maybe not against the law in Alaska, but definely a danger risk.

Lord, that woman is a train wreck. The assumption on Sarah's part that none of the rest of us in the lower 48 have ever seen beautiful scenery nor actually done hard jobs is beyond insulting. As far as Sarah being able "to hang" in the wilds of Alaska, please, don't make me laugh. If she lost electricity in her home for an hour she'd be beside herself. Plus what is her obvious need to insult someone or some group on this weekly silly fest? It's like watching junior high school antics from the girl that acts like the meanest boy she knows. I'm not impressed nor would I want my children to use Palin as any kind of example of goodness. Here in Michigan in the Western U.P we see and do hard work daily. We fish, we hunt when necessary, we have rapids, we use a snowmobile more than a car in winter and have beautiful live lakes and forests. We also have a healthy respect for our land and the animals that inhabit it. We are also part of "real America" regardless of political stripe. It would be different if the show was actually about Alaska but it's not. It's about a woman and her desperate need to disparage others and behave as though somehow she and her family should be examples to the rest of us. Well, thanks but no thanks. I'll take healthy, educated respectful kids and family any day over snotty, snarky ill-educated ones. And yes, I've been to Alaska many times. Just sad to see such a beautiful state spoiled by a resident that continually insults the rest.

What is it with all you Palin haters? Are you that emotionally unstable and pathologically angry? If there are people who are really intelligent is it not Progressive haters and that is why the sun is setting on your ideology and you are on your way to the dustbin of history. Oh, most of the hate is from psychologically and emotionally castrated Progressive males who make emo boys look normal.

If $arah Palin and her family are so proud to be Alaskan then why did Todd Palin belong to the AIP (Alaska Independence Party)? The AIP advocates secession from the US.

There is nothing grand or great about the Palins and this show. Sarah Palin sat in her bedroom painting her fingernails most of the time she was growing up, barely finished college by attending five colleges, owned a car wash that didn't do well, and became a mayor of a small town with the population of 5,000 by a few hundred votes, and left it in 20 million dollar debt. She does have charisma, and won the governorship because the incumbent was not liked at all and no one knew her, but she had a great line- being a maverick. But, then she quit half way through her term. As governor, she faced ethic charges before she was picked by McCain to run as VP. They were not frivolous. The Ethics Committee were hired by her and were former high school friends. Her and her husband have belonged to a secessionist group for years. She is conning America.

I am an Alaskan Native and I refuse to watch SP prostitute the Great Land we presently and for thousands of years have lived. I would like to convey that this Hollywood show is not an accurate portrayal of our people, nor does she in any way represent the true spirit of the people who reside here.

Alaskans , can be generous, selfless, and many have a quiet humilty and respect for all living things. In this regard there are those of us who would never consider for personal gain, taking down an ancient tree, or mocking the nobleness of a bear or boasting while gunning down a caribou. This is not our way... I am shamed by the image SP is making and sickened by the disrespect which .she demonstrates

you, people, didn't get it!
Sister-sarah shows you ordinary life of Alaska's people:
they go fishing in debry on Monday
hug bears on Tuesday
hunt exotic animals on Wednesday
cut trees certainly enormous trees on Thursday
write tweets with pencil on Friday
buy their un-wed daughters house on Saturday sudenly in Az
hike woods (or tundra) on Sunday...You just didn't get it - it is just ordinary life
of ordinary Alaskan...
by the way - who is that nman named Todd on the picture?
what for?

palin's mad house on learning channel..
Come on , people,
just learn

I can operate a chainsaw, and I could shoot a gun if someone else loaded it and made sure it was ready for me to shoot. I encourage my children to understand how some people are on their feet all day because it's they only way they can make ends meet. I want people to understand how some things are dangerous. I do not, however, pretend I know more than the people who do these things regularly. I do not, however, insist my children learn how to drive fast, I never let them ride in the front seat when they were too little, and they always had to wear a seat belt. I do not teach my children how to disrespect other people just because I disagree with their policies - I explain the other side and then present my arguments and let my children make up their own minds - and I do not allow my children to mouth off to me.

Sarah and Todd seem much more interested in promoting Sarah's bid for higher office than their role as a parent. Sad! It is so obvious that they give more attention to Tripp than to their special needs son. Every episode we see Bristol and Levi's son--but very little interaction with Trigg, who is never shown with the glasses and hearing aides that he wears when cared for by his nannies. So Bristol has now paid cash for a home in Arizona--the home is in an area where most of the homes are foreclosures; it is an hours' drive from a college to which Bristol has not applied for entrance yet; and Bristol does not have permission from Levi to move Tripp to Arizona. It doesn't appear that Bristol has thought out this home ownership decision very thoroughly--but it is equally obvious that her parents have given her no insight about this important decision. (The Palins have voiced their speechwriters' opinion on national TV about how Levi should move into the Wasilla city limits if he plans on running for mayor--PERHAPS Bristol's lack of thinking about the impulsive buying of this home is similar to the depth of Levi's thinking.) What is next--looks like Sarah Palin's Arizona will be the next reality show about the Palin family.

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