There’s a new “reality show” across the big pond called 10,000 BC. The premise is that they transport 20 people back 12,000 years to see how they survive.
It’s the usual mash-up of drama and ignorance.
The show is being promoted as a “social experiment”. “Experiment” is a really, really bad word to use here. How can it be an experiment to put people into a disjoint and historically inaccurate situation and expect to really learn anything from it?
The show was filmed in October of last year at an old hunting preserve remaining from communist Bulgaria. The 20 people (half men and half women) were there for 2 months. Its first episode was on BBC 5 last night, and supposed they are producing another version to show in the US on MTV (edited to highlight the younger cast members, and conflict, I’m sure).
But it is a TV show. So of course the promos are ridiculous. Here’s a picture from one of the photo shoots.
Check out that footwear! Oh, yeah, zebra-striped boots! That’s sure realistic. (I also love the artfully applied mud-daubs to their faces.)
Here’s another of the promo photos. What are they thinking?
Seriously, what are those things on their feet? Has there ever in the history of humankind been any footwear like that? If you need something for cold, you’re not going to leave your toes out. And if it is not cold, you can be darn sure that “cave men” from 12,000 years ago were pretty much barefoot, or maybe wearing some kind of sandal.
So, what happened when they really got out there and weren’t shooting publicity stills? They went barefoot, right? Or maybe had moccasins?
Here’s a shot from the show itself, showing what our zebra-booted lady wore in reality.
Huh? That’s not authentic at all.
The programme attempts to recreate the harsh existence of Stone Age men and women as much as possible.
* * *
The TV show does allow some modern necessities such as sturdy hiking boots but the group still struggles to adapt – with the lighting of a fire presenting the biggest issue in episode one.
Transported back to 10,000 BC, and the only thing they bring back with them are sturdy hiking boots? Why? And what makes them “modern necessities”?
I really don’t know how to interpret this as anything other than utter ignorance. It’s as if they think that unshod feet immediately melt into puddles of goo.
They don’t even have them wearing moccasins, because, as they all seem to think, modern feet absolutely require support! No wonder we barefooters have a hard time convincing anybody of anything with that sort of mythology so deeply ingrained.
There is also a trailer for the series, which is here:
If you watch it, you can see it’s not just our zebra-boot lady. Here’s one of the images from the trailer.
Everybody is wearing full hiking boots! They don’t even consider the possibility that climbing a tree barefooted is way easier.
Another article about the show, Tinder, berry ‘crack’ and venison jerky – how to survive in 10,000 BC, gives us another look at this crackpot thinking:
You can’t undo 12,000 years of evolution.
That’s just bad and ignorant science. While there has been some evolution of humans since then (lactose tolerance, gene shifts regarding disease), we have not changed in any significant way since then. The real difference is cultural, not evolutionary. Our culture, and the sorts of knowledge we grow up with and that is ingrained in us is entirely different.
But the article goes on to compound the ignorance.
Armed with ceramic pots, walking boots (our feet have evolved) and animal hide to protect their dignity, the group were left to fend for themselves in the countryside of Bulgaria.
No. Our. Feet. Have. Not. Evolved.
For one thing, these people are utterly ignorant of the fact that most of us went barefoot an awful lot of the time until quite recently. Heck, even in Britain a lot of people went barefoot just a few hundred years ago. Across the world a lot of people still go barefoot. We haven’t been wearing shoes enough (and I don’t really see how there would be any selective pressure on feet) to have changed anything genetically.
Yes, modern feet that wear shoes have been warped, but that’s from wearing shoes—the underlying genetics is the same. Not only that, but just a bit of use (unsupported) allows the feet to regain a lot of their original functionality.
They had a survival expert, Klint Janulis, help set things up and stay with the people for few days. While he participated, he had to know that this was not a realistic test. Survival 12,000 years ago, while of course difficult, would have been done by people who grew up learning how to live in those conditions. They would have had their ancestors (and their ancestors, and so on) having provided their survival environment. They would have known how to preserve food (and would have had stores of food) and dress (they would continuously been making it). It would have had none of this of suddenly being thrown into an odd environment.
And Klint understood this (but participated anyways). In Meet survival expert Klint Janulis, he is quoted saying
No matter how much skill modern survival instructors learn or possess, we would still appear as children compared to a hunter-gatherer who has grown up learning the skills, ecosystem, and methods from birth.
But he also calls the show a “social experiment”. Yes, a totally unrealistic and ahistorical social experiment. One reviewer, in 10,000 BC review: ‘It might make you wish you lived in a time before television’, put it best:
“This is also a social experiment,” said Janulis, and yes, of course it is, in the same sense that a warehouse fire is a chemistry experiment.
I suppose it makes good television, or at least what passes these days as television. Just don’t expect it to mean anything at all. They can’t even get right something as simple as bare feet, or footwear, being locked into their modern “sensibilities” and prejudices.
You know, some time I’d like to see a reality TV show where people just went barefoot all over the place. The trouble is, there’d be no excitement and no drama (well, unless they got tossed from a store, but that would get old quickly).