Nacho Mama’s National Geographic
by Malia Ragan
It’s immediately identifiable by its signature yellow rimmed front cover paperback. For us baby boomers, it was our staple reference material to fulfill that footnote obligation at the bottom of that geography or science report we were required to write in grade school. Yes, there was no Internet or Google or even a Kindle when National Geographic came into existence in the late 1800’s. We had to walk five miles to the nearest brick and mortar building called a “library” to check them out. Or, if we were really fortunate, our parents had a subscription delivered, by another increasingly endangered species, called the postman. I know, it’s difficult for some of you to imagine. Wikipedia describes National Geographic as “formerly National Geographic Magazine”. What? National Geographic Magazine is no more? It’s been replaced by the acronym, Nat Geo? And you can now subscribe to it on cable tv? Get out….
Nat Geo~~ what can I say about my enthusiasm when I switched to another cable TV provider and learned that I now have access to the Nat Geo channel. I think I heard the angels sing. My anticipation was overwhelming. I settle into my comfy spot on the sofa, pour me a cup of coffee and get comfy to watch Nat Geo; the offspring of the magazine that inspired us to take care of our planet, taught us about popular science, history, cultures, wildlife and geography. I was not disappointed, as I had tuned in to an episode featuring an expedition tracking great white sharks in the Sea of Cortez. I was in heaven.
During a commercial break, I hurry to the kitchen to pour another cup of coffee, sprinting like an O.J. Simpson commercial; running through the airport (another reference only us baby boomers will get) and hurry back to my spot so as not to miss anything. I sit down just in time to catch the commercial thinking surely I must have “butt dialed” the remote in my mad dash to the kitchen, as the commercial was advertising a new Series called “Taboo”. Yes, most surely, I had changed the channel to either Oxygen, Lifetime or TLC, or so I was hoping. Then to my horror; looking over my glasses, I see the little Nat Geo symbol on the bottom of my tv screen. As we say down South, “aw naw” can this be? Feeling really light headed by now, I listen as it talks about its first episode to air called “Sex Surrogate”. I feel a little relieved and reassured that this must have something to do with the scientific exploration of the mating habits of an endangered marsupial that lives somewhere in the bowels of the Amazon rain forest. Not my cup of tea, but I can live with that. But, my worst fear soon came to fruition. This is not an episode about nature or animals, but yet, it captures the life of an aged 70 plus year old woman living in the continental U.S. offering her “services” to, shall we say, “those in need”. Say what? Are you kidding me? I don’t need to know these things. Better yet, why does my beloved Nat Geo THINK I have an interest in knowing these things. I also don’t need this visual burned into my brain.
There is never a day that goes by that we don’t hear the adage, sex sells, but for the love of God, not on my Nat Geo! I must investigate further. I sprint again to the computer. Thank you Google, as I pull up “Taboo”, the series. Now, my lightheadedness has progressed to all out case of “the vapors” (another Southern term) as I peruse the line up for subsequent episodes and read titles like “Altered States”,“Misfits”, and “Body Modifications”. Then it hit me, could we be to blame for National Geographic’s re-invention. Is it our insatiable desire for sensationalism or is it just the “ratings” game that has inspired Nat Geo to stoop to this level? Only time will tell what direction they choose to follow in future programming. However, there are two things of which I am certain; I will not be watching “Altered States”, “Sex Surrogate” or “Misfits” and, Nat Geo is Nacho Mama’s paperback National Geographic of old.