A Word on Word Travels

The entire time I was watching a National Geographic documentary, Word Travels, I couldn’t help but sense how sloppy it was. NatGeo is one of those channels which made the debate on tourist vs. traveler (Francis Bacon's essay here) a pressing issue. This production, though, changed everything: hosts Julia Dimon and Robin Esrock did a disservice to the art of documentaries and to the tragedy in Chernobyl as well. My rants in bullets:
  • It felt like a brush through Kiev. Did they really stay? They didn’t really probe around the question: why Ukraine being the center of all these nuclear missile silos? 
  • The soundtrack is a bad choice--it really feels stupid to hear American songs while watching a tour in Ukraine. Also, I'm not one with those who think Ukraine doesn't have anything other than death metal bands. 
  • Unwarranted emotions from the hosts; most of the time, it even feels fake. Julia Dimon feels something like a “tactile understanding” regarding the tragedy which befell the village of Pripyat and Chernobyl. In another scene, Robin Esrock had to shout “hello” (twice!) from a window of an abandoned school in Pripyat, as if to prove that it is a "sad" place or something they rendered in really mushy poetics. It shouldn't be so telling. Who cares if his voice echoed? Aren't those dismembered dolls enough? Do they really know what to do when confronted with such, other than shouting "hello" or writing something like "tactile understanding"?
  • The show has offered a look at the remnants of Chernobyl and Pripyat, yes, but let's see: Julia Dimon went partying in a Buddha Bar in Kiev, and thanked a restaurant for an English menu (right there, in Ukraine--you guys). Robin Esrock hasn't done anything new other than reiterating the Armageddon and The Red Button trope, which is so Cold War. What the two of them should do is answering relevant questions: how did this relate to something scientific, say, radioactivity in Japan, or the nuclear crisis in Iran? The documentary, though framed by their stay in Ukraine, should still be viewed in relation to today's issues. Diego Bunuel (as in Don't Tell My Mother I'm In...) does everything in an hour or less: the soundtrack, the editing, the relevant stuff. 
  • The ENTIRE commentary is just really poor and underdeveloped. Some scenes feature the two of them posing as models, doing some time lapse feature with the crowd, or some potraits of them typing in their Macbook Pro. Julia even said she feels like a “cultural anthropologist” while observing trends in Ukranian women wearing mini skirts and whatnot. Is cultural anthropology about fashion alone?
  • This brings to mind that question which has been bothering me for some time: Is a good camera the license to be a travel columnist?