Life as an Extreme Sport

The backlash of glamour

There seems to be an interesting backlash against glamour growing. You can see it in Discovery Channel’s “The Most Dangerous Catch”, a show about crab fishermen off the coast of Alaska, and perhaps more pointedly in their “Dirty Jobs” show, which sounds like it is – a show about a man travelling the country to witness and experience first hand the dirty jobs people do to keep our way of life afloat.

And now there’s a book based on that same premise, ‘Uncommon Carriers,’ by John McPhee. Seems he did much the same thing, and travelled around the country to witness these jobs that are considered dirty and unglamourous, and are a source of great pride by those who do them.

We all know people like this. People who take great pride in what they do, even though that might be joining pipes, or washing cars, or mucking out drains and gutters. And since we all know people like this, why are they being highlighted on thse shows and in this book? I think we might be witnessing a backlash against the glamourous lives that most of us will never lead, a tired reaction to the dangling gems we’ll never wear and the awards shows we’ll always watch on TV.

These jobs are our jobs. (Well, I probably can’t say that, since I’ve not held a dirty job in well over a decade. But the premise stands!) They’re the jobs that were the butt of jokes in sitcoms, the jobs that most of us wind up with regardless of our degrees (if we even have them). And I think that this surge in showcasing these normal, boring, dirty jobs is a way of highlighting the gritty realness of life, in a way that glamour and reality television cannot.