I have always been a fan of the documentary “Super Size Me.” I thought, “How cavalier this Morgan Spurlock is to be spitting in the face of fast food’s fraudulent claims!” Of course, he gets disgustingly ill from all the fast food (as if you needed a month long experiment to tell you that), and strikes a victory with McDonalds eliminating the “Super Size” option from their Value Menu. Yeah!
Naturally when I found there was a show, I gravitated towards watching it. I can’t say I remember a large number of episodes because it has been fairly hit-or-miss, but I have definitely enjoyed it as an alternative to the typical crap on TV. Recently the second season started, and of course, I have been watching it. I have been busy and missed most of the airings, so I have downloaded them instead. (By the way, TV without commercials > TV with commercials)
I watched the first episode just tonight and was moved by the whole story. The episode is about “what happens when you have a border-patrolling minuteman stay with a family of illegal immigrants for 30 days.” Frank, the minuteman, is very compassionate and understanding of the sorry circumstances this family must live in. I found the eldest girl Armida particularly intriguing because she was attempting to go to college despite the poverty of her family.
So, I think, “wait, if she did go to college, she has to have a facebook entry,” because that is a rite of passage for college students anymore. I searched and found way too many hits for “Armida.” For a name so foreign to me, it is fairly popular. So, I go to google to find this person and searched for “Armida 30 Days” and found a blog entry (dead link) which links to the Armida College Fund (dead link) website. I thought it was pretty odd that she had her own website. So, I decided to investigate further. I ended up on the IMDb site for “30 Days” and there was a thread about Armida and Santa Clara University (dead link) (the college she wanted to go to). The thread begins with saying they looked up “Armida” in the address book at SCU and got one match: “Armida Plascencia.”
Now armed with a full name, I plugged that back into google for a search which had a top hit from the “Immigration Watchdog” blog (dead link). Within the blog, I am lead to an entry titled ‘30 Days’ Distorts Minuteman Reality (archive.org) which includes a video (dead link) from an FX press conference for the show in which Frank and Armida are members of the panel. In this conference, Frank takes it upon himself to say that his beliefs are misrepresented by the episode. The episode ends with him having a clear change of heart about the issue, but in reality he has taken the experience to instill in him even greater vigor for enforcing immigration laws. The article even links to Frank’s own letter about the episode.
An excerpt from his letter:
I told the producers that they had purposefully twisted the story and they said that I had actually said those things and I replied that they had taken it out of context from the 300 hours of video that they had shot.
After going back and forth for the longest time they refused to make any changes. I told them that they could keep it all as is but to allow me to add an audio file that would bring everything back in balance so that Americans might know that I had not changed my point of view.
I was told that I had no control over the contents…. as if I didn’t know. I told the producer, Jonathon, that an army of lawyers and the contract that I had signed would not keep me from addressing this issue.
Finally they said they would add in writing, at the end that I was still a Minuteman and that I was working to have our borders secured.
So, what I have learned is that “30 Days” doesn’t care about presenting a truthful documentary but is more interested in pushing their viewpoints on viewers through the guise of documentary-laced “facts.” And by the behavior of the Head of FX Publicity at the press conference, it is clear that they will use their corporate might to silence dissenters. I am left only to wonder how many other episodes have been “tweaked” and have been kept quiet. I would’ve easily taken this episode for face-value had I (and others on the internet) not been so intrigued and curious about this immigrant tale.
The internet is mighty powerful and may my blogging about this bring others’ attention to it as well.