“Hi I’m Anthony bourdain and I’m a rich white guy with two tv shows where travel and I use my rich white privilege to make local people show me awesome stuff, and to make you know how awesome I am.”
Though that episode in Osaka was pretty awesome. (I saw it when my dad was watching on his dvr during dinner)
He’s really the only travel guy I watch (okay Andrew Zimmern is a guilty pleasure, and tbh that show has made me open to trying lots of different kinds of food), and that’s because he openly acknowledges the double-edged sword that is the brand of journalism/tourism that he does—i.e. the entertainment kind—and that he doesn’t really have any answers for the ethical dilemma that it brings up. I appreciate that he goes to these places and actually has an interest in getting to know the people there, instead of showcasing just how “weird” and “ethnic” they are. Or how much pity white, civilized folk should be giving them.
I do remember an episode where he went to someplace in Asia, and there was a bit about some of the traditions in this one area about how to treat the monks, and he openly came out and said that he’s always kind of torn about the show because while he wants to show these amazing places and cultures, he doesn’t really want a bunch of rich westerners to wind up crawling all over and ruining the thing that made it great to begin with. He was basically trying to say “it always ends up turning into western imperialism”, but I’m sure the network wouldn’t have appreciated him being so frank.
Anyways, Bourdain is a smart guy and he knows exactly what he’s doing.