So this lovely piece of journalisum came across my twitter feed today…TV Digs Will Harm Patrimony, Scholars Say by Bill Carter.
First, props to Mr. Carter for using big words in the title, no props however for making it sound like the archaeologists of the world just want to take away all the fun from poor Ric Savage and his wrecking crew of “Relic Hunters.”
For Mr. Savage, it is more a matter of earning money. Digging up artifacts is how he makes his living, though for him it is also a labor of love. Long before he wrestled, when he was growing up in Virginia as Frank Huguelet, Mr. Savage developed a passion for history.
“I’ve been a digger my whole life,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday. “But I never had the funds to get the right kind of detector or the time to go out and do it.” After he retired from wrestling more than a decade ago, he devoted himself to digging.
“When you find something of value and hold it in your hands, that’s what it’s all about for me,” he said. “It’s about touching history. You can read or watch history, but the only way you can touch or feel it is to dig it out of the ground.”
Awe, it’s a labor of love, that he’s just trying to make a quick buck at. Poor guy! He loved archaeology and history so much he decided to go into pro-wrestling and forgo an education that could have allowed him to study professionally the things he loves so much!
Keep an eye on the language used here, that’s the sticking point for me, “Labor of love”, “He Devoted Himself”, “Touching History”, and other such emotionally charged imagery to describe the poor, put-upon Mr. Savage.
This is not how the archaeologists are described, starting with the insinuation that Susan Gillespie, head of the American Anthropological Association, is more intimidating then any pro-wrestler has ever been. Mr. Carter also points out that we “argue”, we “accuse”, we only point out the negative, we only want to write papers and achieve tenure somewhere. We have boxes of artifacts that we don’t even care about anymore, just sitting around! We won’t even put them on display so people can see them! We are SO MEAN!
But sweet Mr. Savage understands us, he makes sure to do all his homework before he digs anywhere, he just wants to touch history too, and then sell it to the highest bidder. He’s so cool, he even agrees to give the property owners a cut of the money he says he’s going to make selling artifacts. He is so awesome! I am so mad at myself for ever thinking that this was a bad idea. Mr. Savage is like, an ex-wrestling, relic-hunting, angel of mercy! I was so blind!
Not to mention we archaeologists are trying to stand in the way of Spike TV’s ability to prove that all men are basically 5 year old’s, and should be treated and entertained as such. Which could be why the successful, educated, female, Dr. Gillespie is so intimidating. I mean, a woman who doesn’t stay home, make babies, and cater to her husband/boyfriend’s every need? Who does she think she is? Doesn’t she know her husband is only capable of doing the things 5 year old’s are? For shame!
The best part is the end, where Mr. Carter makes it sound like Dr. Gillespie, and other “professorial diggers” are trying to step on Mr. Savage’s Rights as an American Citizen. Making sure that his readers know that Mr. Savage has all the God given right of any true American citizen to dig holes all over this country in order to line his pockets, or so says Spike TV.
I’d kinda given up on the New York Times as being anything more then a yellow-rag a long time ago, especially when it comes to it’s online content. This article just renews that for me. Not only is is obviously one-sided, it’s sexist to both men and women, and insulting to anyone with more then a high school degree. Thanks for not changing for the better, New York Times, keep it classy!
Excellent, I wholeheartedly agree! The typo in the very last paragraph, however: “sexiest” and not “sexist” perhaps needs to be changed for full effect. Haha!
dang it! Thanks for the heads up!
This was an interesting read and I’m always struck with just a unaware I am about sexists attitudes, which I suspect comes from being a white, middle class male and not having to every bear the brunt of such behavior. Maybe it’s just cause I like Susan Gillespie a lot, and automatically placed more own experiences with her on-top of the voice of the article.
I wasn’t supportive of the article when I read it tis morning, but I didn’t think it was that bad–on the other hand I read it in an archaeological head-space, and just glazed over the bit about boxes of artifacts we’re not using. It’s kind of indicative of the view of archaeology as a commodity. Thanks for bringing this up.
When all this first came up a couple of weeks ago, I read a post that inspired me to use this whole thing as a means to educate people on why looting matters- it’s not just about ‘ownership’, it’s about context.
Here’s the post: http://www.flpublicarchaeology.org/blog/wcrc/2012/03/01/being-the-voice-of-reason-not-just-the-voice-of-opposition/
As a semi-related tangent, I wonder if people misinterpret the way we use ‘cultural resource’, kind of like ‘natural resource’- i.e. something to be extracted for gain… anyways, just thinking (typing) out loud.