Monday, October 27, 2008

TV viewing diary - Amazon with Bruce Parry

I've already sounded off a bit about Parry's seemingly rather partial presentation of the lifestyles and impact of indigenous groups living in the Amazon basin. But in truth the middle episodes of this series were excellent, with Parry's congenial and receptive nature ideally-suited to encounters with marginal, micegenated groups such as the enterprising yet illegal miners of Grota Rico and the Ribeirinhos of the Mamiraua reserve.

His willingness to show the sophisticated side of life in Manaus was also refreshing. You rarely come across any commentators on TV (or even in guide-books) who are prepared to engage with upper-middle class life in Latin America as anything other than essentially immoral and parasitical.

However, it was "timbeeer" again in the last episode in which Parry finally arrived on the Atlantic shoreline. "I'm nackered," he concluded, before delivering a string of platitudes about communities, both Amazonian and global. In the final analysis the great river belongs to neither in quite the same legalistic sense as it does to the government and people of Brazil, and the programme would have been improved by a bit more focus on that dimension.

I felt a bit sorry for the last bunch of indigenes whose hospitality the Beeb took full advantage of, because they'd obviously been misled into believing that a BBC2 audience in the UK could make a major difference to their relative position in the game of Amazonian interest groups.

No comments: