All I could do was groan and shake my head when I saw an ad for IMA‘s upcoming new TV show in their latest Shotgun News ad. We know a TV program was in the works, but this was the first sort of detail I’d seen about it. Come on, “Jersey Combat”? Really? And more to the point, it’s on NatGeo. NatGeo! It sounds like a respectable channel because of the association with the National Geographic magazine, until you actually look at the shows they air. “American Gypsies”, “Chasing UFOs”, “Wild Justice” – and these are just from their own list of Featured Series. And let’s not forget about “Doomsday Preppers”, whose creators really highlighted their integrity by offering one of the participants $5000 cash to shoot her cat on camera. It’s all over-dramatized, dumbed-down, scripted-reality crap. I looked a bit closer, and apparently the company specifically producing IMA’s show is Firecracker Films, a fine upstanding company responsible for such other lauded classics as “The Man Whose Arms Exploded”, “Dad’s Having a Baby”, “Jamie: Drag Queen at 16″, and “Demon Exorcist”.
Why? Why on earth would you give a company like that the ability to destroy your hard-earned reputation on national television? I’ve met Christian Cranmer, the owner (although I’m sure he doesn’t remember me) and he seems like a great guy. I’m a big fan of the work he did acquiring the Nepalese arms cache. His company is a great source for all sorts of great arms and militaria. And yet there are only two reasons I can see that you could possibly sign on to a TV show like this:
1) You naively believe they will show you in an accurate and informative light instead of taking anything and everything out of context in the interest of dramatic tension
2) You are so desperate for publicity that you’ll willingly trade decades of reputation for a one or two year of selling branded trinkets to idiots
I really can’t see either of these applying to IMA, so I guess I’ll just have to wait and watch an episode to see just how bad it is. I really hope it turns out to be great, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
FWIW, I got a casting request myself a while back from Bray Entertainment (the very professional folks behind “Bridal Bootcamp” and “Principle’s Office”) looking for a gun guy for a new show. It is a nice ego boost to be asked, so I went ahead and sent them an audition tape. I think the part where I explained my opinion on “Sons of Guns” and “American Guns” got me dropped right off the list, because I never heard back. If my TV documentarian friend Margaret is reading this, maybe we can put together a series on cool old guns that doesn’t rely on shouting and angry people and drop itself down to the lowest common denominator.
Edited to add:
Alex Cranmer (who runs IMA with his father) understandably objected to my prejudice, and has provided links to a pair of preview clips from the show (which, BTW, has been renamed “Family Guns”). Take a look, and see what you think:
Alex’s full rebuttal can be seen in the comments sections. My thoughts? The Family Business segment leaves me a bit cold, but I’m impressed with the WWI reenacting, and the lack of bravado on Alex’s part. I think a lot of people would insist on pretending to be Rambo in an event like that, and it’s a credit to Alex that he doesn’t. I’m still leery of any “reality” show, but I’ll keep an open mind when the program airs.