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September 2, 2011 8:04 PM   Subscribe

The Tribes of Darkest Austria - or: if Africans ruled Anthropology. (slyt)
posted by divabat (43 comments total) 65 users marked this as a favorite

 
Link doesn't work for me. This does.
posted by palidor at 8:08 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


*broad grin* thanks divabat
posted by infini at 8:21 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


That is wonderful comedy. They've really got that colonial condescending tone down perfectly. Now where can I get some of that magic paper?
posted by MShades at 8:26 PM on September 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Link doesn't work for me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:27 PM on September 2, 2011


Related: Babakiueria
posted by lesli212 at 8:27 PM on September 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


The Nacirema Mouth Ritual
posted by The Whelk at 8:33 PM on September 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


Bah, sorry, I borked it trying to change it out of mobile mode. palidor's got it - mods can you update please?
posted by divabat at 8:44 PM on September 2, 2011


There was a similar and more recent show Meet the Natives where South Pacific tribesmen visited UK and USA.

Youtube of the UK visit

Youtube of the US visit
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 8:55 PM on September 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Well.

They are right about the fences.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:58 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just noticed the title of the YouTube vid is, "How Black People See White Culture". And seeing as how it's YouTube, I'm unable to determine whether the uploader was troll baiting or completely missing the point.
posted by lesli212 at 9:18 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


What if white people commissioned a video showing black people being condescending to white people?
posted by shii at 9:28 PM on September 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


shii: Babikuaeria (linked above) was run & likely commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation so it kind of already happened. I'd be interested to know what the responses were - I'd imagine the Anzac Day part in particular would have been quite controversial.
posted by divabat at 9:36 PM on September 2, 2011


I lost it at "where no black man has set foot before."
posted by cthuljew at 10:16 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Having taken basic Anthro courses, and seen way too many patronizing old documentaries in the process, I was LMAO all the say turniru. Love how the naum African narrator, the Anthropologist was wearing a woman's dress!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:45 PM on September 2, 2011


The youtube comments, as usual, do not disappoint.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:00 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Slightly related: here's a (later banned) South African ad showing SA's racial relations swapped.
posted by PenDevil at 1:23 AM on September 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


I just noticed the title of the YouTube vid is, "How Black People See White Culture".

yeah, that title ruins the vid, I hesitate to share it with all the fieldwork people I know in Africa primarily because it miscommunicates the satire
posted by infini at 1:50 AM on September 3, 2011


The joke is obvious despite the title though. This is very funny.
posted by Peztopiary at 2:08 AM on September 3, 2011


I hesitate to share it with all the fieldwork people I know in Africa primarily because it miscommunicates the satire
It's also at archive.org without the silly title.
posted by elgilito at 2:57 AM on September 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yes, this is funny. Probably funnier if you have sat through some anthro courses.
posted by carter at 3:51 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh god, I just got to the lawn gnomes and I started laughing out loud.

This is amazing, thank you.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 3:55 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is wonderful.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:29 AM on September 3, 2011


So, so good. I only watched the first five minutes before deciding to save it to watch with my husband tonight. Thank you!
posted by taz at 4:32 AM on September 3, 2011


Hilarious. Thank you.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:32 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just finished it. Sad to see in the credits that this thing was concieved, written, produced, filmed, and directed by white people :(
posted by Meatbomb at 4:43 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


"The white man's tendency to indulge in narcissistic self-analysis makes ethnographic research in Europe very difficult. There is not one psychological or social phenomenon that has not been examined in scores of books."

Comedy, yes, but sumptuous polemic too.
posted by stonepharisee at 5:13 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is actually one of two films in a short series by the Upper Austrian filmmaker Walter Wippersberg. They are pretty well known here in Austria, I suppose because they introduced lots of people to the mockumentary genre. The former premiered in 1992 and is still being sold by our public broadcasting company; I also know about some high school teachers who like to show it to their students.

I don’t know if there’s an English translation of the first movie Das Fest des Huhnes, but if you speak German, you can also watch it on Youtube.
posted by wachhundfisch at 5:34 AM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


elgilito thank you!

(now to hear what the pros say)
posted by infini at 6:24 AM on September 3, 2011


Let me guess: this was written, directed, produced and funded by white europeans (or an absolute majority thereof). It kind of sucks the comedy right out of it honestly.
posted by falameufilho at 6:31 AM on September 3, 2011


Reminds me a bit of this film. Which is very different but also turns the tables on the west.
posted by ropeladder at 6:35 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


didn't the Romans write this kind of stuff (about the weird ways of those zany Germanic tribes) 2000 years ago?
posted by zog at 7:24 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm having trouble suspending my disbelief because the Africans are clearly European-influenced -- they drive European-looking vehicles, the narrator has a European-looking office, and so on. But I guess imagining an alternate universe where black people came out of Africa and conquered the world, instead of white people coming out of Europe and conquering the world, would require more time spent world-building than they wanted to spend.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:29 AM on September 3, 2011


I was about to say I`ve seen this already byt it was aborigenes and westerners not african`s and Austrians. The internet is running out of ideas?
posted by Meatafoecure at 10:55 AM on September 3, 2011


madcaptenor: that didn't bother me a bit. The narrator acknowledges the sophistication etc of European civilisation. I think it actually works better for me that the the world of the documentary is just a little bit changed and all we are required to imagine is that there is a TV station in Congo that can send teams to Europe.

On the other hand what does bother me is this -- it's really an Austrian joke about Austrian culture, affectionate, self-mocking. I doubt very much that any Austrian would find anything to be offended about. But the Africans are just comic props. In fact one could see a certain racism in it. It is funny to see a Congolese explorer with his team of Alpine bearers because we know this is impossible and abnormal and a reversal of reality. We know the anthropologist is no such thing, that's why he's funny. The Africans are not real Africans, they are just inverse stereotypes. A documentary made by actual Africans with their own script would be awesome, and it could be funny, but it couldn't work by exploiting racist tropes the way this does. The Austrians, well-intentioned as they probably are, can only bring their Austrian understanding to the whole thing. I'm not sure about this, because I laughed and laughed while I watched, but I also felt slightly uncomfortable, and this is the only way I can explain the discomfort.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:28 PM on September 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


"A documentary made by actual Africans with their own script would be awesome, and it could be funny, but it couldn't work by exploiting racist tropes the way this does."

You know....you might be on to something there. What many Westerners don't realize is that much of the world is pretty sure they understand Western culture...because they have seen Hollywood movies.

You could do a service to all the peoples of the world to have non Western documentarians do their own, genuine, research. It would be interesting to see what they see and how they see it.

Back on topic, I am only part way through the video. It's partly hilarious, and partly slightly cringe worthy, but a good thing nevertheless.
posted by Xoebe at 6:08 PM on September 3, 2011


"their touching childlike pleasure at seeing us again is quite understandable" ha I lost it at this part.
posted by Danila at 6:20 PM on September 3, 2011


You could do a service to all the peoples of the world to have non Western documentarians do their own, genuine, research. It would be interesting to see what they see and how they see it.

I'm pretty sure they do; it just doesn't get promoted as such or sometimes gets passed off as "crackpot".
posted by divabat at 8:08 PM on September 3, 2011


I think the best lesson to draw from this, and the Nacirema genre in general, is to ask ourselves: when we let experts interpret other cultures for us, or for that matter folk wisdom, what might we be getting spectacularly wrong?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:43 PM on September 3, 2011


what might we be getting spectacularly wrong?

Perspective.

We end up using a frame of reference by which to evaluate observations and thus infer conclusions based on it rather than questioning our tacit assumptions and attempting to step aside from those and looking at our interpretations in the context of the local operating environment and mindset of the people.
posted by infini at 10:13 PM on September 3, 2011


Just finished it. Sad to see in the credits that this thing was concieved, written, produced, filmed, and directed by white people :(

Yes it's sad, Meatbomb, but were you really surprised?
posted by mekko at 10:52 AM on September 4, 2011


"You could do a service to all the peoples of the world to have non Western documentarians do their own, genuine, research. It would be interesting to see what they see and how they see it."

That's what was actually interesting about "Meet the Natives" -- in addition to the camera crew following them around, they had their own video camera to record what THEY found interesting, and also their thoughts ... and they had their own native translator. So while it was mediated through the Western TV producers, there was also quite a bit of "direct" comment from the Tannans. Some of it was very striking and had some fascinating "outsider" insights (to me as an insider). Some of it was really very funny as they pointed out stuff that was clearly insane if you hadn't grown up with it.

(Also, the UK version explored western "tribes" based on class, and the US version explored "tribes" based on region, which was also a very interesting difference.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:54 AM on September 5, 2011


On co-sleeping, an insight from the green: "Personally, one of the big influences in us deciding to co-sleep was something one of my anthropology professors once said. He did field research in Africa, and after he returned home one of his African friends came to visit. The prof and his wife had just had a baby, and upon observing the child in her crib in her own room his friend remarked that he couldn't understand why Westerners kept their babies alone in the dark in a cage. And I thought that sounded terrible! So now, we co-sleep."

It may be apocryphal, but it's still an interesting perspective.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:49 PM on September 5, 2011


Oooh, I lasted two minutes. It may be a good parody of anthro-class films, but I saw enough of the real thing in school and the form [slow pan, dry burst of dialogue, repeat] is too agonizingly similar.

I did like the cascading voiceovers from the professor's native tongue (I'll stupidly guess Swahili) to German to English, though. Amusing in its own way.
posted by psoas at 7:15 PM on September 8, 2011


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