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Sarah Palin’s Alaska: Creatively green or purely red?

The complex relationship between politics and entertainment is as American as apple pie. They come together in the new TV series Sarah Palin’s Alaska, which has upset progressives and environmentalists alike. The show, in which Palin engages with Alaskan nature, is the brainchild of TV conglomerate Discovery Communications (producer also of the green-advocating Planet Earth documentaries) and costs $1.2 million per episode.

 Many are pressuring this TV giant to drop the show because of Palin’s dismal environmental record as Governor of Alaska. She placed a bounty on wolves and opposed placing polar bears and beluga whales on the endangered species list, citing them as threats to oil development.  “Let [Discovery Communications] know that [she] doesn’t deserve to represent the ‘powerful beauty of Alaska’ in front of millions of people,” writes Opednews, a progressive news source. Others are mocking Alaska’s premise. Assuming Palin’s persona, writes, “Look! It’s a polar bear. I sued the federal government to keep that guy and his elk from getting an endangered species listing.” But John Henricks, Discovery Communications’ founder, defended the show. “What we’re doing is just — she obviously loves her state. She has a great following in the country.”

Alaska is to air on TLC, a subsidiary of Discovery Communications. The network is a self-prescribed magnet for Middle America viewers. “Heartland values are indeed what TLC pushes, carving out a profitable niche in a reality TV marketplace otherwise filled with sex-drenched youth soaps,” writes the Los Angeles Times. Sarah Palin has become leading spokesperson for Middle America, the “great following” Henricks spoke of. “The show is not doubt guaranteed to draw big numbers,” suggests Hollywoodlife.

Though it might be hard to grasp, Palin’s show could have a strong environmental message. One Alaskan native contends that Palin could “educate viewers about realities of life for some who rely on fish to live. Outsiders could see how the salmon are preserved so they can help sustain a village through the winter” (Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman). If Sarah Palin’s Alaska does indeed attract high ratings, notions of conservation and sustainability could reach a new, red audience. Perhaps environmentalists should welcome a chance to preach beyond the choir.

What do you think of Alaska’s possible green messages? Do you think Palin’s environmental record would overshadow any of the show’s potential sustainability messages? In other words, is the maxim “don’t shoot the messenger” applicable to Sarah Palin’s Alaska? Why or why not? A DailyBeast quote reads “controversy equals ratings:” is openly attacking this shows’ premise counterintuitive for progressives? If yes, why? If no, why not? The Huffington Post quoted Henricks as stating that Discovery Communications “has been at the forefront of environmental programming:” Does Discovery Communications have a moral obligation to remain as such? Why or why not?

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