reality TV

Survivalism ‘Shouldn’t Come With A Bad Reputation’

“Survivalism: The stark ideology that may have led to killing of a Pennsylvania state trooper”

-Actual headline on the Washington Post website, September 17, 2014

“I love publishing material that readers can sink their teeth into and learn a lot from. I hope to do a lot more of it when things calm down on my end. At the same time, I will blog about some topics that might not be so informative- like prepping as a form of insurance, for example. Why’s that? It depends on the situation really. But in the case of “Prepping As Insurance,” I’m disappointed in how the mainstream media often portrays preppers/survivalists. Many times, the so-called Fourth Estate equates preparedness with anti-social behavior, paranoia (sound familiar?), and/or domestic terrorism. I like to point out that emergency preparedness (something Uncle Sam/other levels of government actively push- even while demonizing it in some instances) can be thought of as another form of insurance and one of our civic duties as American citizens (the emphasis on self-reliance/sufficiency frees up public safety resources in major emergencies) by its practitioners. Letting the idea fester in our society that prepping is BAD could ultimately result in way too many helpless Americans in a SHTF situation. My intention with this post- while not really one that is chock-full of knowledge- is to help torpedo that dangerous idea with hopes (dreams?) of a more resilient society once again.”

-One of my comments in a discussion about last Friday’s Survival And Prosperity post entitled “Prepping As Insurance”

I’ve always thought any negative associations with prepping/survivalism stemming from related “reality” TV shows like National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers were essentially harmless. As they were rolling out a couple of years ago, I trusted people would be able to figure out it’s only entertainment television– with some useful knowledge thrown in to keep more “demanding” viewers coming back for more. Entertainment TV with a good deal of shock and awe to ratchet up ratings and score as many advertising dollars as possible.

Several years on, and plenty of critics- particularly in the mainstream media- of preparedness/survivalism base their view at least in part of what they’ve seen on TV.

Doomsday Preppers Toilet Paper

Doomsday Preppers Toilet Paper


They just don’t get it. And if you ask me, in many cases it’s because they’ve haven’t researched the subject thoroughly enough (either by choice or lack of time).

And the ones that do but who still try and push the goofy idea that most- if not all- preppers/survivalists are authority-hating, machine gun-toting, wannabe special forces types who are two sandwiches short of a picnic and long for the end of the world (note I’m not including “as we know it” here) to remake it in their own image- well, don’t forget they’ve got newspapers/other media products to sell.

So it was with some relief that I encountered the following article yesterday on the WFMZ-TV 69 News (Allentown, Pennsylvania) website. Talking about the ongoing manhunt for alleged cop killer Eric Frein, 69 News staff wrote:

This weekend, 69 News spoke with the chief of the Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue about survivalists.

Mark Hopkins believes Frein will be able to evade police for a period of time, but police will catch up with him.

He says to a degree, everyone is a bit of a survivalist, and that description shouldn’t come with a bad reputation.

“I wouldn’t want to see that lumped together and think that all survivalists or all people that are doing this prepping stuff want to hurt people, because that’s not the case; this is clearly an outlawry,” Hopkins said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Everyone is a bit of a survivalist, and that description shouldn’t come with a bad reputation.”

Something the “haters” would do well to remember. But probably won’t, or choose not to out of self-interest or something else.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

“Survival expert believes police will catch up with Frein.” 69 News. 21 Sep. 2014. (http://www.wfmz.com/news/Regional-Poconos-Coal/survival-expert-believes-police-will-catch-up-with-frein/28175968). 22 Sep. 2014.

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Prepping As Insurance

A couple of days ago, I stumbled on a Chicago Tribune piece that made fun of preppers. I’ve encountered a number of these in the mainstream media the past few years, so I wasn’t really surprised to see one in my “local” paper. Columnist Steve Johnson wrote on the Tribune website:

All across the country people are preparing or, in the shorthand, “prepping” for a coming apocalypse — the day when, in the even shorter hand, the “SHTF.” That’s an acronym preppers use that stands, almost, for “something hits the fan.”

I read news stories about this anticipatory readiness. I witness it on reality TV, a realm in which shows are primarily about Alaskans, Kardashians and preppers. Even more meaningfully, I see it in such leading cultural indicators as costco.com and SkyMall. Many people think a social meltdown looms, and they are getting their gear, from canned goods to weaponry, in order.

Yet I dawdle. I toe-drag. Instead of outfitting the family for a dubious kind of survival, I let myself get distracted by such trifling matters as whether my sons have girlfriends and should I try one of those stand-up desks.

But I know, in my heart of hearts, that I am lax, and I must take stock. Let me enumerate the ways in which I am not prepared for the apocalypse…

That included such things as “I do not have a zombie fighting plan,” and “I have not doled out $3,999.99 to Costco for the ‘32,000 Total Servings 4-Person 1-Year Food Storage,’ an actual product,” along with “My cars are not swathed in armor, jacked up to go way off road and fitted with machine-gun turrets,” among others.

The Tribune columnist wrapped up his ridicule of preppers with the following:

When we can no longer hold out, well, that’s when we bite down on the cyanide capsules — OK, I’m going to be a little bit prepared — and thank our lucky stars we didn’t spend the good days cloaked in paranoia, suspicion and highly speculative, ridiculously costly planning.

Now, I’m not a prepper. Nor do I claim to be an expert on preppers. But from my experience researching and writing about them for a couple of years now, the actions of most preppers don’t seem to stem from some belief of “a coming apocalypse” (an image made popular by “reality” TV). Nor have the majority of preppers I’ve met/corresponded with been “cloaked in paranoia” or filled with “suspicion.” No doubt some fall into the camps. But I suspect most preppers are not unlike the Tribune columnist himself- an adult American with a job, car, kids/ loved ones depending on them, and many other “real world” responsibilities, concerns, and problems to boot.

It’s just that the prepper has either insured or is in the process of insuring his or her lifestyle in the event of a lasting emergency which can strike at any time.

This can include anything from a local power outage lasting a couple of days, to a regional man-made/natural disaster, to that “apocalypse” Johnson wrote about.

Many Americans insure their health, their life, their residence, their vehicle, and so on. Why not their ability to live comfortably on a day-to-day basis in the event something terrible happens?

Consider what modern survivalist and The Survival Podcast host Jack Spriko said on August 13, 2014, about prepping as a form of insurance. In episode 1406, “Well, Why Isn’t Everyone a ‘Survivalist’?”:

I’ll say, “Dude, what kind of car do you drive?”
“Well, I have this car. I’ve got this new car and I bought it.”
“Do you have insurance on it?”
“Well, yeah. You have to.”
“If you didn’t have to, would you have insurance on your car?”
“Well, yeah.”
“Well, why?”
“Well, if you get into a wreck, you want someone to pay for it.”
“Oh, so you’re a prepper?”
“Oh, no. That’s not what that means.”
And I’m like, “It kind of does.”
“You have a potential disaster- a car wreck- and I’m sure your insurance covers things like injury or bodily harm or other people if you get sued, things like that. So you preempted a potential emergency with prior planning. This makes you prepared for that. Therefore you’re a prepper.”
“Well, that’s not what I’m talking about.”
And then if you start having a conversation with them, you’ll find there’s all these places in their life that they’ve put some sort of assurance or insurance into. But then there’s the gaping holes of things that are actually very, very important.
So you’ll say, “What happens if one of your family members dies?”
“Oh, well, you know- we have life insurance.”
“Great. Well what happens if you both lose your job for some reason and you’re trying to put food on the table?”
There’s some unemployment, but when you start doing the math, it’s like your whole life is going to fall apart.
“Well, if you have some food set aside- even just a couple of months- and for a couple of months you knew that you could just not go to a grocery store, or only go 10 percent as much as you used to buy, and you can use that 60-, 90-day period as a get-by in-between so you can get back on your feet, don’t you think that would take the pressure off of you, let you make better decisions about getting a new job?”
“Well, yeah.”
“Then why don’t you do it?”

“Then why don’t you do it?”

Short of not having the financial/physical resources to do so, maybe because it’s easier to mock others rather than make the effort to insure one’s way of life in the event of a real, drawn-out emergency?

Prepping as paranoia? Try prepping as insurance. That’s how I’ve observed more Americans considering it these days.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Johnson, Steve. “Completely unprepped for doomsday.” Chicago Tribune. 8 Sep. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/ct-doomsday-johnson-talk-20140908-column.html). 19 Sep. 2014.

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America Unplugged: Season 1 Finale Thursday

I just got done watching a recent episode of America Unplugged, the new survival-themed television series that’s been appearing on Thursday nights on the Sportsman Channel (blogged about here). As usual, it was real good. In case you weren’t aware of the show- from the New Berlin, Wisconsin-based national television network’s website:

Hosted by former Navy Seal Cade Courtley, America Unplugged is a new series that takes viewers on a cross-country journey to meet the folks that are unplugging from society. Each of the eight episodes provides a riveting look at the excitement and danger of living off the grid. The terrain, wildlife, and food sources are as varied as the people who choose this lifestyle. But they are all motivated by the same thing; they want to live free, as they pursue their own version of the American Dream.

Regrettably, I received an e-mail from the folks over at the Sportsman Channel earlier today which said tomorrow, Thursday, July 10, “is the last show for this season.”

Darn. I’ve been looking forward to watching America Unplugged whenever I can.

Cade Courtley (who just recently penned a survival guide) has done a solid job hosting the series- as expected from his previous work on Surviving Disaster. The parties who’ve been unplugging from the grid have been pretty interesting and likeable. I’m learning a thing or two about the self-reliant lifestyle from each episode. And the drama exhibited in survival-themed TV reality shows has been kept to a minimum in this production- at least in the installments I’ve seen.

I’m really hoping the Sportsman Channel brings America Unplugged back for a second season.

In the meantime, catch two all-new episodes tomorrow, Thursday, July 10, beginning at 8 PM ET/PT on the Sportsman Channel. Click on the banner ad below for more information about the TV series.

AU'14_300x250_thursdays_v6

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Casting Call For FOX TV Show ‘UTOPIA’

Speaking of prepper/survivalist-themed reality televison, I was recently contacted by two casting producers about two new shows they’re casting for.

First up is the upcoming FOX TV show UTOPIA. From the casting notice:

A NEW WORLD IS COMING
WILL YOU BE CHOSEN TO HELP CREATE IT?
UTOPIA IS NOW CASTING! – FOX TV

THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME TO CREATE YOUR OWN DESTINY!

Have you ever wanted to create a new society from scratch or participate in trying to form your ideal world?
FOX’s new unscripted social experiment series “UTOPIA” is searching for candidates to create a whole new world.
Nationwide casting is now underway and we’re seeking motivated “pioneer types” who have the ideas, skill sand determination to create and run an ideal society.

IF YOU’RE READY FOR AN EXCITING LIFE CHANGE, HERE IS YOUR CHANCE!

CALLING ALL TYPES!

Single, Married, Couples, Engineers, Entrepreneurs, Doctors, Contractors, Cooks, Veterans, Farmers, Law Enforcement, Welders, Construction Workers, Electricians, Plumbers, Eco Scientists, Mechanics, Architects, Inventors, Nurses, Veterinarians, Hairdressers, Tattoo Artists, Psychics, Bohemians, Vegans, Philanthropists, Salesmen or Unemployed!

NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE OR WHAT YOU DO, IF YOU ARE READY TO BE A PIONEER, UTOPIA MAY BE LOOKING FOR YOU!

“UTOPIA” follows 15 inhabitants as they leave their everyday lives to move to an isolated and undeveloped location and challenges them to create their own world. The series offers people from across America the chance to be part of a groundbreaking social experiment – the pioneers will make every decision about how they will live, work and what the rules and laws of “UTOPIA” will be.

CASTING is searching for candidates, “21 and over” who are passionate, great at what they do, and also have the problem solving skills needed for starting up a new society.
If you think you have what is takes to create Utopia, then email: CastingUtopia (AT) gmail (DOT) com
Include your name, age, contact info, where you live, city/state, occupation, interesting info about yourself, and why you would be great for the show!

ALSO VISIT UTOPIATV.COM to apply…

As soon as I receive a casting notice for that other project, I’ll put that up on the blog too.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 Housekeeping No Comments

On TV: Dude, You’re Screwed

From the cable/satellite TV channel that brought us Doomsday Bunkers (wonder what ever became of that show?) comes a new televised survival competition. From the Discovery Channel website Wednesday:

WHOSE TURN IS IT TO PLAY THE GAME?

In DUDE, YOU’RE SCREWED, five of the world’s most elite, thrill-seeking survivalists will find out! The seven-part series is the newest twist in the survival genre, premiering on Discovery Channel Sunday, December 8th at 10:00pm ET/PT, and on Animal Planet in early 2014.

Unprepared and left to fend for yourself, what would you do if you were captured, blindfolded and taken to an unknown, remote location? Viewers are about to find out as these five survivalists must prove they have what it takes week after week as they play this “game” that puts all of their skills to the ultimate test.

Each survivalist has a different background:

-Terry Schappert, a Green Beret, A -Team leader, medic, sniper and close combat specialist
-John Hudson, an Extreme Survival Instructor for the UK Royal Air Force
-Matt Graham, a primitive skills expert and a desert survival instructor
-Jake Zweig, a former Navy SEAL, certified in Surface Warfare & as a dive safety officer and helicast master
-Tom Moore, a veteran Army Scout, bush craft master and wilderness guide

Each survivalist is captured one at a time by the other four. The capture could take place at work, at home, at a coffee shop, ANYWHERE! They must always be on guard. Then, they are dropped in one of the world’s harshest environments and must make their way back to civilization, alive and unscathed, all within 100 hours, or it’s game over!

Meanwhile, the other four compatriots monitor and scrutinize the target’s progress (and vital signs) from a nearby remote command center. It’s man against nature (and his four “best” friends) as each action-packed, dramatic episode of DUDE, YOU’RE SCREWED crisscrosses the globe — from dense jungles to frigid glaciers — to match wits in this game of survival. With reputations and bragging rights on the line, do these guys have what it takes to survive the ultimate challenge?

To win the game you got to do more than just survive.


“Screwed In Iceland”
Discovery Channel Video

“To win the game you got to do more than just survive.”

To watch the show, I’d have to be a cable or satellite TV customer- which I’m not right now.

Of course, Discovery Channel is more than welcome to send me an advanced screening copy to preview/review.

Regardless, Dude, You’re Screwed does sound kind of interesting. Here’s hoping they keep the “reality” TV drama to a minimum though. Discovery Channel, Sunday, December 8, 10 PM ET/PT. Check it out.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Friday, November 15th, 2013 On TV, Preparedness No Comments

On TV: Doomsday Preppers ‘The Fight Ahead’ Preview

A week ago, I blogged about the start of season 3 of the National Geographic Channel’s hit TV series Doomsday Preppers. I noted that I was able to get an advance screening DVD of the first two episodes for the new season. Before it airs tonight at 9 PM ET, I want to preview episode 2 of Doomsday Preppers, entitled, “The Fight Ahead.” From the Nat Geo Channel website:

Prepper Chad believes that a nuclear strike resulting in a genocidal siege is a real possibility. At his home in Arizona, he is working on executing the biggest prep of his life- a 140-foot-long escape tunnel from his family’s house to a bug-out vehicle. With the help of his wife and daughter, he begins construction. But as the project unfolds, they realize they’re in over their heads.

In addition to Chad Hudspeth, his wife Debbie, and daughters Heidi and Holly out in Phoenix, there’s Mike Evock and his family out in Laurinburg, North Carolina, who are prepping for a biological/chemical attack.


“Tunnel Time”
YouTube Video

I watched the “The Fight Ahead” a couple of weeks ago and thought it was pretty good, especially as it contained a bunch of potential prepping ideas. Keep an eye out for the following tonight:

-The Hudspeth’s backyard aquaponics system, which also generates algae for producing biodiesel fuel
-The addition of an underground shelter with escape tunnel to the Hudspeth home
-The family’s use of a single code word to signal TSHTF
-The Evock’s being able to run a family business from their bug-out location
-Their BioDome, a portable sealed-off safe room that protects against biological/chemical attack
-Their combat-capable ATV, the “Interceptor”
-How to produce homemade caltrops, a tire-deflating device made from spiked steel

Like I said- lots on potential ideas in this episode.

One more thing. I noticed that while Practical Preppers LLC is still assessing the preppers featured in the TV series, I didn’t see any scores displayed for them at the end of the first two episodes of the third season. I wonder if it’s because I’m viewing copies that are “not cleared for broadcast.”

For more information about Doomsday Preppers, visit the National Geographic Channel here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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National Geographic Channel Hosts Doomsday Preppers Blog Carnival

Last weekend, I wrote a post entitled, “What Effect Have (Post-) Apocalyptic-Themed TV Shows And Films Had On The Prepping Movement?” I did this as part of a “blog carnival” the National Geographic Channel is hosting on its website this week (I also participated in an earlier one back in March 2012). Kristin Montalbano posted the following Tuesday on the Doomsday Preppers Blog on the Nat Geo Channel site:

Judging from recent apocalyptic films This is the End and World War Z to “what if” disaster shows like NBC’s Revolution or Nat Geo Channel’s upcoming American Blackout, to reality fare like Doomsday Preppers, it’s safe to say that the “end of the world as we know it” is on everyone’s mind. But what effect has TV shows and films like these had on the prepping movement? We thought we’d poll some of the best and brightest in the preparedness community to find out what they thought.

“Some of the best and brightest in the preparedness community.” I’m incredibly flattered, and pretty sure I shouldn’t be counted among this group of prepper bloggers if only because I’m not much of a prepper, but someone who just covers prepping as part of my blog’s focus on financial and personal safety issues.

Anyway, the blog carnival featured posts from a number of preparedness bloggers over two days- October 22 and 23. On Tuesday, it was Gaye Levy of Backdoor Survival, “Erich” of TacticalIntelligence.net, Bernie Carr of The Apartment Prepper’s Blog, and “The Road Warrior” and “Jarhead Survivor” of SHTFBlog.com. On Wednesday, it was “Angela” of Food Storage and Survival, yours truly with Survival And Prosperity, “Silent Prepper” of Prepper Central, and Tara Dodrill of Common Sense Prepping.

I’ve only just begun reading the responses from carnival participants, but they’re very interesting from what I’ve perused so far.

Now, I’ve actually been lucky enough to meet some of these bloggers in person, and let me just tell you- they really seem to know their stuff. But don’t just take my word for it. Drop by the Doomsday Preppers Blog over at the National Geographic Channel website and check out their latest blog carnival:

Doomsday as Entertainment – Preparedness Bloggers Weigh In: Part 1
Doomsday as Entertainment – Preparedness Bloggers Weigh In: Part 2

A special thanks goes out to Nat Geo Channel’s Kristin Montalbano for organizing yet another terrific carnival. I think I can speak for all of the participating bloggers when I say thank you for giving us the opportunity to take part in this event.

Stop back tomorrow for more on the National Geographic Channel and a televised event that’s taking place this Sunday.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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