Sunday, 2 March 2008

Reservations On Romania

Romanians take a cue from their national hero Vlad Tepes and thoroughly skewers Tony Bourdain over the draculaean portrayal of the country in an episode of No Reservations. His thoughts on the issue raised the ire of Romanians worldwide (seven-hundred-odd replies(!) and counting), particularly his choice of Russian drinking buddy Zamir as his fixer. Didn't he learn anything from Uzbekistan?

"Disco with bellydancing and flaming margaritas? Not-so-fresh offal barbecue? Shopping for weird wedding presents? Sexual harrassment -slash- Cold War torture routine in a Turkish bath? Quality television!"

Aside from that, I didn't think ZeroPointZero had a choice. Each episode costs money: airfare, luggage, equipment, meds and drugs, bribe money and other expenses - not to mention all the time and effort invested. Scrapping the episode might incur serious financial repercussions. Other questions beg to be answered. What part did the Romanian authorities play in this? Were the locals as surly and hostile?

Perhaps they should've had some reservations when it came to Romania. It would've been better to call it No Expectations.

The expressions of "disappointment" were predictable. He makes the best of another botched episode (Beirut, no thanks to Israel and Hezbollah) and suddenly he's the next Anderson Cooper. No Reservations is a reality sitcom where the surly embittered fifty-something (usually) pokes fun at local customs and abuses himself for our entertainment. Keith Floyd's shows were a more genteel version of it, while Jeremy Clarkson does the same with anything on wheels.

Come back to Malaysia, Tony. We'll promise you a better time. Andrew Zimmern? Angry mob.

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