I asked journalist, filmmaker and photographer Pablo Mediavilla Costa, also one of my students at The New School, to give some perspective on the Spanish reality TV series, ‘Perdidos en la tribu’ (‘Lost in the tribe’) filmed, among others, in Namibia among the San (referred to by the derogatory Bushman in the series) and the Himba (that’s the Spanish cast members in Himba blackface above). In the host countries, the series has been criticized for its crude stereotypes and exploitation of the locals. I wanted to know from Pablo what the reception to the series has been inside Spain:

Lost in the (Spanish TV) tribe

The savage Africans have arrived to Spanish television. Supposedly progressive Spanish TV channel, Cuatro–close to the Socialist government- -last year unfurled one of the most racist products ever seen: ‘Perdidos en la tribu’ or translated ‘Lost in the tribe,’ a reality show in which three Spanish families live for a while with “three primitive tribes unaware of Western civilization: the Himba, the Mentawai and the Bushman”. The prize: 200.000 dollars if they integrate in the amoral wilderness of the uncivilized blacks and stay for, at least, 30 days with them. Painful.

Sharp TV critic Javier Pérez de Albéniz, wrote soon about it: “Are we talking about an ambitious anthropological essay? Maybe it is the making of a National Geographic documentary. Or maybe some ethnological project backed by the United Nations. No, my dear friends, it is a new television product of exploitation of the indigenous people”.

Now, after the success of the first season–with an average of 2 million viewers–the second one promises “more adventure” with the Hamer from Ethiopia, the Kamoro from Papua and the Nakulamené from Vanuatu. Shameful.

And that is not all, some Spanish NGO’s have denounced that the conditions of life are faked and the villagers were disguised and paid some 200 dollars that then were spent in alcohol.

Here it is an example. This clip is entitled, “the Bushman sick of love”:


Pablo Mediavilla Costa

Further Reading

Our turn to eat

Reflections on Malawi’s recent election rerun, false starts and the hope that public representatives in Africa become accountable to their electorates’ aspirations.

The culture wars are a distraction

When our political parties only have recourse to the realm of identity and culture, it is a smokescreen for their lack of political legitimacy and programmatic content. It is cynically unpolitical, and it’s all bullshit.