Reality TV Finally Deals with Small-Scale Gold Miners
(One of the "Devil's Canyon" miners packing in.)
OK, I already know that most of you know I don't care much for reality TV gold shows, especially "Gold Rush." But there's a new show soon to air on the Discovery Channel called "Devil's Canyon" that I'll take a closer look at simply because it involves small-scale gold mining. It won't be scripted either since there will be no camera or production crew tagging along with the three prospectors/miners involved...they'll be filming themselves. How's that for a novel idea?
It's Apples and Oranges
I've ranted and raved for quite a few years now that shows like "Gold Rush" DO NOT show what real gold mining is all about, especially from the small-scale point of view. You take a bunch of jackasses (the majority of the Hoffman Crew) with no gold mining or prospecting expertise and give them oversized Tonka toys to play with, drop them in the middle of proven gold ground, and then watch the antics as they fumble and fuss their way through commercial mining faux pas. Note I said COMMERCIAL mining here. Most of these incredibly inept dudes (minus Freddy Dodge who is a miner's miner) couldn't find a speck of color to save their own asses if left alone to make a go of it like a small-scale miner does each and every time he or she hits the field. They'd be babes in the woods in that regards, trust me on that. You could put a trained monkey in an excavator, bulldozer, or rock truck and point them in the direction of the gold and that chimp will turn up color sooner or later. But hand that lower primate a gold pan and a rock hammer and turn him loose along a gold-bearing stream or out in a desert dry wash, and he'll more than likely come up empty. It's apples and oranges folks and never the twain shall meet. (One postscript thought here...why the hell does someone like Freddy Dodge hang with the Hoffmans? Money? To be a TV "star"?)
(You can train a monkey to do almost anything.)
Drama and More Drama
The other thing that gets my goat about shows like "Gold Rush" (and some elements of "Bering Sea Gold") is the drama aspect. Drama, drama, and more drama. Drama sells TV productions and movies. The dumbed-down masses out there who watch this shit think this is what gold mining is all about. That stumblebums like Todd Hoffman are "real" gold miners! The reality is that small-scale gold miners are, by and large, drama free and what they do and how they go about it is often repetitious and downright boring from the TV reality show perspective. No drama and boring means no money coming in because the dolts sitting on their living room couches ain't gonna watch real "reality." They want fairy tales of thousands of ounces of the yellow stuff and all you gotta do to get it is haul your ass up to Alaska or the Klondike, get a claim and a wash plant, and it's strike 'er rich time. It's a distorted and even perverted depiction of what I consider mining and miners to be. Am I harsh in my criticisms here? You damn well bet I am. I'm a small-scale gold guy from the get go and I love the history and traditions of those who came before me. The mining bullies, arrogant little punks, and ass clowns on shows like "Gold Rush" don't fit into that mold for me. Sure, some of you will say I'm jealous and wish I could be raking in hundreds of ounces. Let me tell you something. You're DEAD WRONG! I could give a shit less about them and that.
("Holy hell bro'! We should try our hand at gold mining too!")
The Hard Way
So I'll give "Devil's Canyon" a chance. Anytime three small-scale miners are willing to brave the hostile wilderness of a remote section of British Columbia to get at the gold I'm going along for the ride too...at least to see what's what. What they're doing is not the easy path to success. It's the hard way, all the way when you have to pack in everything you need on your back. Just like all those prospectors and miners who, in decades past, roamed the deserts and mountain canyons searching for the yellow. That's the true nature and spirit of small-scale gold mining and prospecting. And it ain't just about getting the gold, it's about surviving in a hostile environment where there are no roads, no convenience stores, no cell phone coverage, and no TV production crew or cameramen to turn things into a soap opera. If the shit hits the fan in "Devil's Canyon" these three men are on their own. They have to rely on their own knowledge and experience, and most importantly...on one another. That's what real mining is all about.
By the way, a few years back I was contacted by a TV production company that did shows for Discovery, the History Channel, etc., and asked my thoughts about a "gold show." I said what they oughtta do is show what gold mining is really like, what it takes using one or two people and small-scale gear out in the field. Absolute truth. Hmmmm...........
(Getting firewood ready on "Devil's Canyon.")
Making a Connection?
Will the Discovery Channel find a way to screw "Devil's Canyon" up? Perhaps. But at least the couch cowboys sitting in their living rooms with beer can in hand finally get a chance to see what real prospecting and mining is all about. Hopefully they'll learn something and make a connection or two about the difference between the three miners in "Devil's Canyon" and the posturers and wannabes in "Gold Rush."
I sure the hell hope so...
(c) Jim Rocha 2017
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