Posted by: Ali Davis | December 6, 2010

The Lying Channel

On a small scale, I understand the dilemma that The Learning Channel and the Palin family face. It’s difficult to have a habitual liar in your life.

It’s hard to decide who the liar really is or what’s real in his or her crazy-quilt of a world. You learn to anticipate the things he or she lies reflexively about, but a truly committed liar will always throw in a few lies that seem to come straight out of the blue, for reasons that are completely unfathomable. Maybe sometimes they lie for the sheer joy of it.

Everyone knows you shouldn’t let a liar get away with it – that only feeds the problem.

But if you are somehow tied to a liar professionally or, heaven help you, personally, you know that calling them on it over and over gets exhausting: Basic politeness makes it awkward (which every good fabricator counts on), a desire to be fair makes one reluctant to drop the hammer until there’s some concrete proof, and most people have learned the hard way that defensive liars get vicious when you poke their carefully swaddled layers of verbal guano.

Really vicious.

And they will turn on you. One minute you’re pointing out that Visigoths are unlikely to have broken in and eaten all the chocolate chunks out of the ice cream without also pillaging the silverware, and the next all your friends are cutting off ties with you because someone has been telling them that you kidney-punch baby pandas in your spare time.

So sometimes, when you can’t figure out how to scrape the liar out of your life just yet, it feels like it might be easier and safer to just let it go.

That is a reason for what The Learning Channel and several members of Palin’s clan are doing, yes, but it is not an excuse.

Somewhere along the line, Sarah Palin decided that she couldn’t just be folksy and pretty and darling and a fake shell of a feminist. She decided that she also had to be macho, a Wilderness Woman who can hunt and shoot and set up tree snares and punji sticks and make curare out of frogs and her own spittle.

In a way, we’re lucky she didn’t decide to take up strip clubs and chewing tobacco.

It’s a lie, and kind of an obvious lie at that. But Palin is heckbent on perpetuating it, and somehow she has strongarmed, embarrassed, or simply worn down her family and an entire cable network until they decided to just go along with it and enable the bushwah.

This Sunday’s Sarah Palin’s Alaska was amazing both for the huge lengths everyone involved went to in order to prop up the Northern Blights and for the ridiculous degree to which they sucked at it.

The basic premise of the episode is that Sarah goes huntin’ with her dad, which she has been doing since she was a kid, because they are so very close. They hunt all the time! They continue to be so very close!

That second part is, sadly, revealed to be a lie in the very first Moment Montage, when we see Sarah’s dad say that it’s good “getting to know [her] again.”

And a tiny piece of my heart broke off on his behalf.

I can’t tell if someone in editing is secretly disgusted at what they’re doing and drops those little moments in on purpose, or if they’re just in total “Screw it, these idiots won’t notice” mode. Maybe a little of both.

So Sarah, (or Sarah Palin, as her dad repeatedly refers to her), her father, and family friend Becker head off to the tundra to shoot some stuff.

On the way, they stop off at a way station tended by an unnerving, soul-crushingly lonely woman who describes being attacked by a bear.

Tundra Woman shows them where the bear bit her on the head and explains that it tore her hips out of their sockets. Then she crawled back to her house, got a gun, SEWED HER OWN HEAD BACK TOGETHER, tracked the bear down again, shot it just to win that argument, and then “laid there for about 10 days” until a pilot found her.

If you think this story is not going to come up the next time Palin makes a speech about health care, you have not properly sewn up your fontanel after your last mauling.

Palin, once again, makes sure to praise her own bravery on going out into the wilderness, because anything could happen and there would be no one to help.

Because apparently they are bringing along some of those floating, self-directed cameras that don’t require film crews to operate them.

This is the second time I’ve noticed Palin blatantly counting on the assumption that people will forget that television requires cameras and producers and editors and production assistants running around. Does she think this show will air exclusively for the Amish?

Palin and the gents hike and track caribou, and the former demiexecutive just happens to stand majestically on a hilltop, which strikes me as a bad being-inconspicuous-to-caribou strategy. But what do I know? I’m sure lionesses stand up on their hind legs all the time.

So anyway, 37 minutes in, we finally get to the Sarah-killing-things part that the show has been pruriently teasing the entire time.

And that’s where the lying and enabling starts to climb above the usual hip-deep and into suffocation territory.

Palin, an experienced, lifelong hunter who somehow has not learned to SHUT UP, asks, as my friend @TeresaKopec pointed out, if the gun will kick. The show switches to an embarrassing outline-of-binoculars shot.

Palin asks her dad if she should “get him now.” Because she’s so experienced except for the when to shoot part? Or is she just suggesting that Mama Grizzlies should never trust their own judgment when there’s a man around to decide things?

(By the way, for those of you playing at home, Palin first said “Mama Grizzly” at the 11-minute mark this week. I hope you won something nice in your office pool.)

Palin fires… And misses.

Her father immediately takes the gun away and re-loads it for her.

To sum up: Sarah Palin is a lifelong hunter who is an old hand at everything except for staying hidden, being quiet, firing a gun, aiming, and reloading.

But other than those things, it’s completely natural to her.

Palin fires again and misses the lone caribou that for some reason is still just standing there like maybe it thinks that loud noise is the tundra backfiring.

If that sequence isn’t the product of fishy editing, those are some of the worst goddamned survival instincts to hit the planet since the dodos decided to waddle up and show the new visitors their slow plodding technique.

Palin misses again while the caribou looks around like it can’t quite tell if someone just called its name in the middle of a crowd. Seriously: Did someone on the production crew feed this thing tranquilizers and chain up one of its ankles or what?

Becker checks the gun because everyone is so caught up in the liedal wave that it’s clear that that‘s where the problem is: The gun, not Iron Sarah.

Meanwhile, the hemigovernor misses AGAIN.

The gents get the Modern Atalanta’s gun all loaded up for her again, and we cut to commercial. Just in case you weren’t clear that the Palin-induced death is the money shot.

The caribou, rather than reacting to the loud noises, is still wandering around like it knows there was supposed to be a big pickle sale in this store, so why can’t it find them in the refrigerator aisle?

Whatever you production assistants gave that caribou, you are going to be trampled and antlerstabbed forever in Hell.

Sarah the hardy Amazon Queen takes aim again, this time getting impatient and moving out of her crouch and exasperating her dad enough that he makes her settle back down and steady her gun against their little backpack blind again.

Can it be that Sarah just sucks at this? No, because as synthesized heroic music plays, Sarah aims again, and, as we listen to her dad tell her to just WAIT A MINUTE and as the Caribou seems to prance innocently toward the source of the loud noises and funny metal bees, we switch to a shot of the caribou perfectly, perfectly in Sarah’s crosshairs.

I’ll type that again: We have a camera shot of a caribou perfectly centered in Sarah Palin’s crosshairs. To show, apparently, how good her aim is.

Are we supposed to think the camera operator just crouched in there for a second to get that shot?

Or did Sarah get the shot herself with her cyborg eye?

We’ll never know, because Palin kills her caribou and the men congratulate her like, um, it’s something she’s totally done a bunch of times. They just really like the art of congratulating. They are positive folk, up there in Alaska.

Palin, an experienced hunter except for the part where her dad has to remind her that you really should make sure the animal you just shot is dead, is so moved that she quotes Ted Nugent.

I wish I could report that she danced around the corpse while singing “Cat Scratch Fever,” but it was just some dumb thing he said about hunting.

Sarah, the experienced hunter who hunts to feed her children, so stop giving her crap about it, helps butcher the caribou in a way that looks, at first glance, a lot like watching the men do it. But I think someone had to stay alert and grab that monster pile of roofies when they slid out of the caribou’s stomach.

But wait! Sarah missed a whole bunch of times! What if a viewer turns off the show with the impression that Sarah Palin is not the best huntress to hit the planet since Artemis herself decided to stop being a goddess and convert to Fundamentalist Christianity?

I can’t help but wonder how much bitching, moaning, and negotiating it took to make the next sequence happen. In it, Sarah and the guys set up a test and conclusively prove that the darn rifle scope was broken the whole time! So she was perfect after all! Whew!

TLC and Palin family, you cannot possibly feel good about yourselves after this. Please, get help. You don’t have to be a part of this endless, terrible, poorly executed lying.

It’s not like she has a gun held against your head.

And even if she does, it’s a pretty safe bet that she’ll miss.



  1. I want Tundra Woman to have her own reality show!

    I wish the Palins would be abducted by aliens or something. However, if that happened, the aliens would have to vaporize us all just to get rid of whatever plague made Sarah the way she is.

    Thanks for taking an episode of that show for the team!

  2. Another excellent post! It’s so hard to believe that the mayor of a tiny town who couldn’t make it through a whole term as governor has become such a rock star and somehow managed to bring her entire dimwitted family along for the ride. I expect in no time they’ll have another show with mama grifter herself driving the clan around in an old school bus.

    I’m glad you’re watching because I can’t bear to. Keep up the good work.

  3. Thanks for watching this swill so I don’t have to watch it. Despite making $12 million last year, she STILL has to hunt to feed her family? Damn, the food is expensive in Alaska. Poor Tundra Woman, that’s a really tragic story. But it was a bear, a wild bear,not a doped up caribou for a reality show killing.

  4. > I can’t tell if someone in editing is secretly disgusted at what they’re
    > doing and drops those little moments in on purpose, or if they’re just
    > in total “Screw it, these idiots won’t notice” mode. Maybe a little of both.

    I’d guess they’re just trying to put together a TV show — you can do a lot with editing, but in the end you can only do so much with what people say in interviews. The truth leaks through.

    But then, I’ve read comments from Palin supporters on other posts about this same episode who are pretty sure it’s the other way around. They’re sure that all of Sarah’s problems in this show were the result of the producers messing with her gun, etc, either for ‘drama’ or to make her look dumb.

  5. Fuzzy,

    Palin supporters take their cue from the queen bee. Nothing is ever her fault and they buy right into that. Usually the so called “lame stream media” is blamed. I’m sure there was nothing wrong with the gun. They simply can’t accept that Mama Grifter made a mistake.

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