Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Swamp People - 2 Stars

I wanted so terribly bad to love Swamp People (another History Channel broadcast), however, similarly to when I went and saw Girl With A Dragon Tattoo, I didn't read much beyond the title and drew my own conclusions about what I was about to see which greatly excited me.  Sadly, what I ended up seeing was more horrific than I thought.  GWADT was definitely the most traumatic by far, however, Swamp People not only horrified but disappointed.  By the title I expected the episodes to delve into the people, their culture, maybe see different families in the bayous, etc. and at the same time possibly learn why they put so many things into jars, why sanitation means something else to them than other places, and frankly, I wanted to see some voodoo.  There was no voodoo, at least, not in the 2 episodes (or, 1-1/2 episodes I saw).  The whole series is about the alligator season, the 30 days that the Louisiana waters are open for gator hunters to catch and kill as many gators as they have tags for.  I got through one episode, and I did learn that without the hunting season the gator population does explode, putting people in danger, more than even someone like myself can start a parade for, so I understand that aspect.  However, the show focuses on several boats, all family gator hunters.  They hunt in pairs, for obvious reasons - you can't very well shoot and haul up a gator by your lonesome that easily (although one guy does - although, no points to him for bringing his dog who I can only envision getting eaten or tripping the guy and then the guy gets eaten, but that's neither here nor there).  It's just clip after clip after clip of this boat checking their snares they'd left the previous day and hauling up the alligator attached to it and shooting it.  They get paid by the foot, so the bigger the animal, the more money they get, however, whatever alligator is attached to their snare, they shoot and take it in.

The State of Louisiana, according to the show, only issues a certain number of tags.  Any alligator caught must have a tag attached to it in order to be sold.  Each hunter is issued a certain number of tags from this set number of tags.  I'm not clear how or why some hunters are granted more than others, but whatever.  The good thing that I do appreciate of what I did see, all 1-1/2 episodes was, I didn't see any of the hunters shoot and leave a dead alligator because they thought it too small.  At least, the ones they kill, they give a tag, and get paid for it.

I however had to turn off and put a moratorium on the rest of the season when in episode 2 one of the people started instructing the camera on how to 'clean' an alligator, starting with its feet.  That's when I shut it off.

I was definitely hoping for a broader scope from a season entitled Swamp People.  I can't help but be reminded of those fishing shows where you've got a couple dudes in a boat telling you how to catch something 'really big!'  I wanted a bit more anthropology thrown in, a bit more documentary.

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