Monday, May 17, 2010

incredibly uninteresting insight gleaned from not having cable

Deadliest Catch is modern Moby Dick. Alaska Crabbing is modern whaling. High danger, high monetary reward, archetypal masculinity, high uncertainty. the major new wrinkle is the introduction of regulation. whaling was completely unfettered (the danger came from needing to pursue whales wherever they could be found) whereas crabbing is tightly regulated and circumscribed (much of the danger comes overworking the crew because of the tight time frames in which crabbing is allowed). This reflects a fundamental shift in americanness, from Turnerian frontier to a monitored fishing wilderness, from laissez faire entrepreneurship to the need to fight and maneuver around a system of rules.

and yes, this insight would be way more intellectually exciting if both activities did not involve catching deep sea animals for money using boats.

PBS is showing a special on whaling, and something called MyTV shows Deadliest Catch.

1 comment:

Wade Garrett said...

Wow, I haven't heard "Turnerian frontier" in eight or nine years. Hegemony and agency are soon to follow!

I think you're right - when I read Moby Dick this fall I was struck by the similarities. I kind of want to go back and read Moby Dick again - the first time through it my attention was divided between a few other books I was reading and very long work weeks - much longer than the ones I am working now.