Mexican Boxers, Brazilian Ruins, and Rural Tokyo: ERrors from the Road Less Traveled
To my great embarrassment I get a message like this every once in a while:
This was a big mistake made on the second season of RLT, and ultimately my fault. I was up late writing the voiceover for our first Philippines episode, looking for a clever way to compare Manny Paquiao with other rags to riches boxers. Googling "Mexican boxers" I found a list which came from an obscure blog and I copied three of the names over. Unfortunately Roberto Duran, a famous Panamanian boxer, was on this list.
The mistake has been fixed for all deliveries of the show to new networks. But TLC and Discovery World HD, which airs the program from Mexico down to the Tierra Del Fuego, still run the old version with the error. I apologize to at least one Panamanian every month.
In the same season I made another gaff. We were filming in a mall in Jakarta without official permission. Security was tight. I spoke to camera, distracted by approaching guards, and said "... just like Karnak in Luxor, Egypt or Machu Picchu in Brazil..."
I'd spent 4 days hiking to Machu Picchu in Peru. I have a great memory from that time. A park ranger popped out of the dark as I was setting up a tent on Inti Punku. He told me it was forbidden to camp there. I tried to bribe him, but he refused. He told me to hike all the way down to the river. It was almost dark and the mosquitos were out in full force. I begged him to let me sleep closer. He generously offered the use of his guard shack while he worked. He woke me up in the morning, we had coffee together, and I was in Machu Picchu 2 hours before the tourists arrived.
Yet, when we filmed in this mall my brain misfired and spit out the word "Brazil" in place of "Peru." No one from the cameraman to the editors caught my mistake. Luckily I saw this error month later and we fixed it. I have not yet apologized to a Peruvian. Either the network is running the corrected episode or they are super chill about it.
There have been some mistakes in editing. I once introduced Tokyo's most urban neighborhood by saying, "This is Shinjuku!" in voiceover. Shinjuku is like Blade Runner. The editors put a shot of a rural village on the screen at that exact moment. Like two bamboo shacks in a field. To be fair they have never been to Japan and the video file was accidentally in the folder labeled "Shinjuku". This mistake was caught before the episode got on TV. However, if it did air, 99% of viewers would think I was an idiot. Only 1% would detect an editing error. This is why I went ballistic when I saw the mistake and wrote an email to the editors in all CAPS.
I am keenly aware that these kinds of errors can erode the audience's confidence in me as a host. No one wants to be misled. I pride myself on presenting ideas that inform, inspire, and occasionally challenge stagnant opinions. My goal is to create material which is accessible to the person who has never left their hometown, but I am always conscious that all of you know something I don't. I'm aware some of you are seasoned travelers, expats, or locals who are familiar with our locations like the back of your hand.
I strive for your respect, I appreciate your comments, and I am deeply grateful to those of you who follow my journeys. One day, if I meet Mr. Duran in Panama, Peru, or a rice paddy in Tokyo I'll hope to shake the hand of a boxing legend.
11/20/2016 06:26:52 am
Awesome post; the transparency exhibited by your sharing is a breath of fresh air, and yes those that travel as well as know that to voice experiences without script and being real in front of camera understand and sympathize!
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