"If the tough guys think you're insane, then that's true toughness." -- Orson Scott Card, The Abyss.
I remember when I first heard the words "Reality TV" I wanted to puke -- and for good reason, it seems, after suffering through years of "Survivor" and "American Idol" and all the other self-centered drivel that passes for intelligent thought on such programming. Then something extraordinary happened -- and now I'll gladly bless whomever got "Reality TV" going. Because now, Reality TV is giving real heroes some long overdue attention.
For example, if you watch the Discovery Channel, you've probably seen "Deadliest Catch," a series that chronicles the harsh and oftimes deadly life of King Crab fishermen in the Bering Sea. These guys suffer untold misery, injury, and even death, so the hoity toity set can feast on King Crab legs. Now their story is being told and not just in a one-hour special, mind you, but for entire television seasons -- giving them and their families much needed props for what they do.
Mike Rowe and his show "Dirty Jobs" gets another shout-out -- he gets down in the muck and filth of all kinds of work that needs to get done so our society can function (sewer cleaning, anyone?) and by doing so shines a light on some really unappreciated folks. Show after show, hard working people are getting their time in the spotlight: not some navel-gazing Hollywood starlet-in-the-making trying to backstab her fellow players on a remote island.
Which brings me to truckers -- specifically, the "Ice Road" truckers up in Canada. THESE guys are tough -- the baddest of the bad, for you need some SERIOUS nerves to drive a big rig SLOWLY over thousands of miles of ice-covered lakes. They get a 10-part History Channel series showing how they need to move 10,000 loads in just 50 to 60 days -- that's how long the ice is thick enough to support their rigs -- driving no more than 48 mph in minus 58 degree temperatures. Can't drive any faster than that, or the truck's weight would create a "wave" in the ice, causing it to break, thus turning a big rig into a U-Boat in a hurry.
Dawn Fitzgerald, the producer of the series, told the Canadian Press newspaper that a one-hour show they did on the Ice Road truckers last year got such a huge response that the History Channel greenlighted a whole series about them (and can you say OH YEAH!!!)
It's about time these truckers got some major props for this kind of work ... and, frankly, I am hoping this series might convince other Reality TV crews to start looking at other trucking jobs -- logging, hazmat, you name it -- for a little TV time of their own.
It's about time these true working class heroes got their due.