Mark my word, they won’t want anything you can give them....except Facebook
October 15, 2011 8:35 AM   Subscribe

that's amazing... can someone link those documentaries?
posted by empath at 8:48 AM on October 15, 2011

The documentary is Return of the Tribe.
posted by martinrebas at 8:53 AM on October 15, 2011 [16 favorites]

Whatever "award-wining" is, I aim to achieve that.
posted by HopperFan at 8:55 AM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by Anitanola at 9:22 AM on October 15, 2011

That documentary is amazing.
posted by empath at 9:38 AM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Could those tribespeople in the video get any more charming?
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 10:15 AM on October 15, 2011

The single best moment in that first episode is the WTF look on the face of one of the tribesmen when the canoe club starts their warm-up. Like 'you people are batshit crazy, but okay, I'll go along with this'.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:35 AM on October 15, 2011

I want to amend my earlier statement, to call them charming is too make them quaint. I should have said earnest. So earnest, my western eyes couldn't recognize it.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 10:51 AM on October 15, 2011

No, till now the snow ball fight is best. I laughed out loud.
posted by mumimor at 10:52 AM on October 15, 2011

Starfleet is going to be pissed off when they discover he violated the Prime Directive. Now that they know about feathered arrows, when he goes back in five years they'll all be dressed like 1920s mobsters and playing Royal Fizzbin.
posted by briank at 11:10 AM on October 15, 2011 [25 favorites]

The Tribe? What's the big deal? I'm sure I've friended a few Jewish people on Facebook.
posted by millardsarpy at 11:12 AM on October 15, 2011

I taught Anthro 101 in my past life and I once had an art student tell me, after a film about some minimally contacted South American tribe that it was 'so saaaaad that these people would never have iPods.' I think I just sort of blinked at her for nearly a minute.

But now? Facebook? CLOSE ENOUGH.
posted by cobaltnine at 11:15 AM on October 15, 2011 [4 favorites]

Facebook should hire one of these guys as a consultant. He might shame them into being slightly less evil.
posted by Mizu at 11:52 AM on October 15, 2011

Maybe Facebook friends really can help the tribe save their culture from miners - who knows? And a corner of Facebook with scarification rituals and Tok Pisin is just amazing. (And yes, Facebook doesn't deserve this, but such is life).

I'd love to see a documentary about the documentary. There are so many hints of really interesting stuff here - obviously the tribe isn't at all isolated: they go to the beach by bus to gather shells, the people in the documentary speak excellent English, they are quite savvy about the political dealings needed to save their communities.
And they must have seen a lot more than what we see them see. Their observations and analysis seem to have a broader scope than what is presented.

Also - it must have been a challenge for the film crew to meet the proper balance between freak show and *not popular enough*. IMO they did this well. Even the part where the chief goes to the fundraiser in semi-regalia, it ended up even on the count of silliness.
posted by mumimor at 11:55 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

briank: Fizzbin is the game, a Royal Fizzbin is the top scoring hand (odds of which: "astronomical").
posted by parki at 12:08 PM on October 15, 2011

People in remote tribes in africa are more hip and connected than me.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:16 PM on October 15, 2011

The people in that show struck me as more entrepreneurial than most people I meet. They said in the show they were selling alligators now, I assume going to make luxury handbags and whatnot. One guy was interviewed about his three wives and said his first wife was the head wife, the second was important to help the first with the children, and the third he needed as an accountant for his alligator business.

Arrow feathers and alligator trading aren't their only recent adoptions either. The show also said they learned how to make banana moonshine a few years ago.
posted by melissam at 12:42 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

'Return of the Tribe' is amazing television. Eeach episode is fantastic but the cumulative effect is extraordinary and illuminating.

These are people who regard Prince Phillip as a god. And in the final episode of the series the representatives of the tribe sent to the UK get an appointment to meet him.

It's not often you're able to witness the faces of people about to literally meet their god.
posted by Hogshead at 12:44 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

People in remote tribes in africa are more hip and connected than me.

Ones on a huge island in the Pacific Ocean too.
posted by waitingtoderail at 12:51 PM on October 15, 2011 [8 favorites]

Yeah, we like to imagine that the far-off corners of the world are full of "unspoiled" people living in unselfconsciously traditional ways. But the truth is a lot weirder. Most people in those far-off corners are in constant contact with the outside world — and they still keep living in more or less traditional ways. Public transit, cell phone service and internet cafés don't instantly cause you to change your ideas about what's fun, beautiful, normal, worthwhile or interesting.

I'm not even snarking here. I think I'm a pretty informed and cosmopolitan guy, and it blew my mind when I started meeting people in rural Central America who were... well, just as informed and cosmopolitan as me, carried cell phones and checked their email regularly and followed international politics, and still grew and milled their own corn and wore traditional garb and so on — not even out of economic necessity, but simply by choice. I mean, a tiny town in Guatemala is practically a borough of New York compared to PNG, and nobody there has been any sort of hunter-gatherer for centuries — there's a big cash economy, large scale agriculture, yadda yadda. But it still knocked me completely on my ass. It would have been an even bigger shock if I'd first run across the phenomenon somewhere in the Papuan highlands.

The anthropologist in the article has a good point when he says that people tend to be proud of their own culture. But that makes it sound like some sort of stubborn, self-denying Luddism. Really I think it's just that most people like the culture they grow up in, and if you like it, why go out of your way to change it?
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:01 PM on October 15, 2011 [5 favorites]

I just watched the first episode of "Return of the Tribe". Utterly fascinating.
I wish more people from Africa would have the opportunity to visit Britain.

... just kidding.
On a more serious note. I thought there were some glimpses of them not being so backward as they were being portrayed. Digital cameras ... cigarettes ... "Oh that statue up on St. Pauls looks like a lion!" - really? You have lions in PNG? ... The almost flawless English (where'd they learn that? Missionaries? This is definitely no Tok Pisin) ... The chief reading books about London...

On preview, I guess this just echoes what nebulawindphone is saying in a way.
posted by sour cream at 1:06 PM on October 15, 2011

Seriously, why are people referring to an island in the Pacific Ocean as part of Africa? Am I missing something here?
posted by waitingtoderail at 1:14 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

yeah, please stop the Africa stuff now. These people are not backward, they are different. As we Europeans are different. And I was surprised that the difference between PGN's and Europeans as compared to Americans is negligible
posted by mumimor at 1:49 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

> Seriously, why are people referring to an island in the Pacific Ocean as part of Africa? Am I missing something here?

Because dark skinned and tribal cultures are only in africa? (shh, don't tell them about New Zealand, or Hawaii).

I love finding articles about this, because it runs counter to the (less common now) trends that internationalization is good, and that the locals / natives don't know the value of the land they are living on. So we should lobby to have it taken away and put them on reservations, for the good of these naive people.

Instead, you have a people who have decided to pickup the things they found useful from other cultures, without sacrificing their own identity. Note how they picked up facebook and fletchings, but not the 40 hour work week, the mortgaged property, or 80 minute commute to an investment firm.
posted by mrzarquon at 1:52 PM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

In one of his books, Dan Everett talks about how one of the tribes he's worked with — I don't remember which one, but hunter-gatherers somewhere in Amazonia — just fucking love watching wildlife documentaries about like Africa or Australia, other biomes with other kinds of animal. I guess it's a little like science fiction: all the same topics you're interested in in everyday life, but with the details tweaked to be fun and unfamiliar.

I'm wondering if that's the lion connection for these guys too. If I spent most of my life hunting, spoke English and had access to Youtube, I imagine I would be all over some videos of lions.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:53 PM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

Facebook! that's so backward, they should be on G+.
posted by unliteral at 3:02 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

These people are not backward, they are different.

No doubt, though to me, the show started out by creating a sense that the tribe was quite removed from the world of digital cameras, etc.
posted by ambient2 at 3:13 PM on October 15, 2011

I really was fascinated by the People in Papua New Guinea, every time I was home from school sick I like looking at pictures of them in the Geographic. This documentary has not shown in the States, so it was nice getting to see some of these people. I realized that I really liked them, just from the film. I want to see the rest of the series now. I went from being intrigued with just their pictures, to really wanting to know more.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:24 PM on October 15, 2011

I find it interesting how they very frequently promised people that others would be remembered. "Remembering" must have a high level of significance.
posted by Defenestrator at 3:59 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

People in remote tribes in africa are more hip and connected than me.

Much more so than my neighbor; he thinks the intarweb is teh evil!

Of course he doesn't have a computer, never been online, takes his opinion from the pastor of his church who once saw a pron website or goatse or sumptin'...
posted by BlueHorse at 4:25 PM on October 15, 2011

I kinda want to go out in a jungle and live now, tbh.
posted by empath at 4:26 PM on October 15, 2011

What the hell, why did someone delete my cannibalism joke?

They told a story in the documentary about eating human flesh, and made a joke about it in episode 2. They really were a cannibal tribe.
posted by empath at 4:28 PM on October 15, 2011

Papua New Guinea’s wonderful lingua franca, Tok Pisin (a language that started life as a pidgin and is just about translatable if you say it out loud)

This reminds me of the way my younger Irish cousins type on FB. Good lord.

Should we mourn the passing of a phase in our history when bands of human minds still lived in isolation, or rejoice that we are finally all on the same page?

Also, I wouldn't worry too much. No matter if everyone in the world is using the same website we will still find a way to not be on the same page.
posted by bleep at 5:27 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

... one of the tribes he's worked with — I don't remember which one, but hunter-gatherers somewhere in Amazonia — just fucking love watching wildlife documentaries about like Africa or Australia, other biomes with other kinds of animal.

Actually, that tribe that loves the wildlife documentaries isn't in Amazonia — it's in suburban Orange County. And they're not hunter-gatherers — they tend to have graduate degrees and work in the allied health fields. How do I know this? Well, you might not know it from meeting me, but I grew up as part of this tribe.

I've since left them but I still sometime engage in the "watching wildlife documentaries" ritual, out of nostalgia. Sure, it takes a while to pop the ceremonial corn, and cover it in the ritually prescribed melted-chocolate-and-peanut-butter, but it reminds me of my youth, living far, far away from civilization.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:38 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

And what Americans think is world music- you know, the Putomayo CDs, "world music for white people" isn't necessarily what people in the rest of the world listen to.

My professor who spent a lot of time with the Yangoru Boiken played us a tape from 1990 of what was all the rage at the time- it was Casio synthpop with Tok Pisin vocals. Kids in South America are rapping in Quechua. But white Americans wouldn't think it was "authentic".

People in PNG are just as modern as the rest of us.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:43 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I really really love "Return of the Tribe".
posted by Danila at 6:28 PM on October 15, 2011

I read that in some part of South America there are still tribes so primitive that they still use MySpace.
posted by Bonzai at 7:00 PM on October 15, 2011 [8 favorites]

Those must be Peruvian tribes or something. Everyone knows the Brazilian tribes use Orkut.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:40 PM on October 15, 2011 [6 favorites]

From the article, relevant to this conversation:

I’ve long since ceased to view the cultures of the Sepik tribes with the romantic and naive preconceptions that we in the West routinely assign to hunter-gatherer societies. I know, from having lived with these people in their magnificent A-frame stilt houses, that Sepik tribes are as modern a group of people as any of us – people who, like you and me, must constantly interrogate and adapt the culture they have inherited so that it best suits the changing world about them.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:54 AM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thinking about the series, I did notice that their English really is good. They also have very gentle voices.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:08 AM on October 16, 2011

Having just got in last night after a road trip upto Mombasa and up the northern coast of Kenya looking specifically at the future of internet cafes, I must confess to having my preconceptions regarding Facebook use shattered as well. Its beach boys and kiosk girls, students of course and middle aged shipping agents - here's the data from June 2011

1,115,940 Facebook users on June 30/11, 2.7% penetration rate.

What I realized was that it wasn't "Facebook" per se that they were accessing with new users every month - it was this virally spread trend, it could just as well have been Google plus or Twitter or whatever. It was the ability to maintain weak ties and engage with people and spreading like ringtones did back in the day or vibrating mobile phones.

In the tourist areas, it was tourists that beach boys connected to, approaching cyber cafes to help them set up an account and to communicate - it was business, as the high season approaches, booking are made and deposits sent. The FB was the equivalent of geocities or tripod or even Google sites - a home address where these guys could present their services and be reached.

I noticed (ok, I looked over her shoulder stealthily ;) as a shipping agent lady used facebook to set up a church prayer meeting - her timeline seemed to be full of religious messages and famous preachers.

Its going to be a very interesting new FB, I don't think they know the half of it yet.
posted by infini at 9:50 AM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

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