Saturday, 2 June 2012

A Hutterite's Response to 'American Colony'

On May 29th, the first of ten episodes of “American Colony: Meet the Hutterites” aired on National Geographic Channel. A film crew, associated with Colin Avenue Inc. spent months filming the King Ranch Hutterite Colony from the Dariusleut branch of Hutterites near Lewistown, Montana...

Here's the rest of this response by a fellow Hutterite regarding this series, along with some interesting comments. I thought I should post this now, as it's only a matter of time, till someone asks me about it. I'm grateful for this well thought out response and I could not have said it better myself! Thanks Mark!

However, if you've seen 'American Colony' and still have questions or comments, feel free to post your thoughts. I'll do my best to clarify things if need be.

19 comments:

  1. I too am grateful to Mark Waldner for his way of setting the record straight for the majority of Hutterites, it just makes me wonder how 'scripted' are NG other films in the life of whoever they are filming? How much is actual truth and how much is added versions for the 'drama'?

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  2. One could surmise this is an atypical colony just by the fact that they allowed NatGeo to come in and film them for what sounds like a sensationalized television show. It's very interesting to hear how other Hutterites feel about this.

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  3. It'll be interesting to see where they go with this series. As God is the center of Hutterite life, I found it interesting as well that it was just mentioned in passing. I'd think they'd start with that, explain why, then go from there. It's imperfect, that's true - so is every group. I don't necessarily think it was scripted but there did seem to be more focus on the negative behaviors, at least in the first episode. Even I felt like OK, enough already.

    I actually felt bad for "Bertha" who already lost her husband and is now dealing with some rebellious behavior in her children. She doesn't like it but I could tell deep down she didn't want to risk losing them as well.

    I can understand the controversy within the Hutterite community - I wouldn't want generalizations made about me based on the behavior of others. Thanks for sharing - great post. ♥

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  4. Tell me if there is keg beer at Forest River today????? BEING GOOD, and portraying. "A FORM of Godliness". is filthy rags to Christ. His word says so!!!!! When we are clothed in HIS righteousness, and follow HIS commands, ...we can MAYBE stand in judgement of another poor ragged, wretched, begger, fallen by the wayside, who needs HIM, so desperately.

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  5. Yes, interesting indeed, that they would not have an intro why we live communally. I guess it's possible that they'll still show that. Let's hope there'll be some background/history at some point. But right now, you do get the feeling, Christianity is not so important, and that it was edited to show what the general public wants to see.

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  6. Sorry, Anon. Not sure what your first sentence has to do with the rest of your comment, or this discussion, for that matter.

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  7. I would like to clarify up some big misconceptions that some ppl write in this blog about how National Geographic produced & filmed the documentary "American Family: Meet the Hutterites!" That is so not the case so i cant begin to think where some of you picked up on that.. Just because N.G. is "airing it doesnt mean they were in charge of producing & filming it...Collins Avenue is the production company from California that produced & filmed that documentary...

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  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  9. Thanks for clarifying that,R.W.

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  10. Linda,

    I know that you agree with what Mark has written but I think it's important that, as a Hutterite woman, you respond personally to how you feel about the Nat Geo series. From your perspective, how do you see that show? If this show intends to portray Hutterites, how do you defend yourself when it's obvious that your particular community is not like King Ranch and therefore it's inaccurate to say it depicts 'Hutterites'.

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  11. Anon. I plan to do a post at some point. I'm still wondering if this is even an accurate representation of King Ranch. What are your thoughts on this series?

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  12. My thoughts on the series are difficult to define. It just feels that I have no context in which to put this series. By that I mean, I'm familiar with Manitoba Hutterites who belong to a different sect than the Montana Hutterites. I would think comparing those two would be a little like comparing a Newfoundlander with someone from B.C. Completely different environments, values, different many things, even though they share some commonalities as Canadians. I really have no idea about Hutterites in Montana and how they act, live and what their cultural or religious values are.

    You question whether it's an accurate view of King Ranch. That's true. It's easy to question the integrity of the program but the fact remains: some members of that community allowed themselves to be filmed and portrayed in this way. Now, whether it was scripted or sensationalized is really beside the point. Those members must have had some motive for wanting this to happen. Whether those motive are pure is another question. Did they benefit financially from this program? or is this a political tool for them?

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  13. Thanks Anon. You bring up some valid points. It's true that they allowed themselves to be filmed, plus, they agreed to 'stage' some of the scenes, when the crew brought them a script of what they wanted to see. This was rewarded by a substancial ammount of money, as I understand. It also begs the questions: Did they see the episodes before they aired or how much control did they have? If they could even change anything, if they'd wanted to. Yes, the crew claim, they 'tried to be as respectful as possible'. What exactly does that mean to them?

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    1. Hi Everyone
      I am a Hutterite I have seen some of the short video clips about king colony I think it is an embarrassment to all Hutterites thay painted a picture to the outside world that is false I really believe our elders have a lot of work to do at that colony i really believe cameras should not be aloud in just any Hutterite colony same goes with any other religion is it Amish or mennonite we all have slackers that want to tare our faith down

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  14. I have seen two clips of this show and I think that the true values of the hutterite way of life was not demonstrated at all.I hope people don't think that it really is that way in a true hutterite community. One thing we need to make clear this show does not reflect the views of the genuine hutterite personal what so ever. As a hutterite I am ashamed of the way that our lifestyle,our heritage,and our communal way of live have been shown to the world here. I am saddened that our elders, that have fought to maintain our lifestyle both, {spiritual and physicaly] have to deal with such issues that for my part should have never surfaced to begin with. ONCE AGAIN I HOPE THE PUBLIC UNDERSTANDS THAT THIS SHOW REFLECTS THE VIEWS OF THE KING COLONY ONLY!!!!

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  15. I am not a Hutterite - I'm English, and have to say that I enjoy the show and never heard of Hutterites before! I respect their lives altogether. Why do you diss the show? The people we've watched: Bertha, Claudia, Wesley - all of them - are to be admired for their personal perseverance and strength to work and support the colony. Yes, we English admire that. We understand that your religious beliefs and your church is central to your way of life - yes, that comes through the shows! I know you cannot film inside of the church or the elder meetings, but that is to be expected. What you all may be missing is that your problems are so much just like our problems outside of the colony. Your lives and our lives are very similar in what we all have to deal with, and it is very interesting to see how you guys work out those problems. The love your families show towards one another also comes out loud and clear. NO-THE SHOW IS NOT MISSING THE BOAT so to speak. We get it. We respect your traditions and your values, really. And all of the people depicted in the show so far all have good personal qualities, they all look out for one another. You don't understand how nice and refreshing it is to see those caring values for each other shown in day-to-day living, since much of that is what everyone on the outside is seeking in some way. You should be proud to be a Hutterite and thankful that this series is showing the rest of the world how you really care about each other. Doesn't matter that some of the shows may be 'scriped' - those are the issues EVERYONE has to deal with nowadays, this is not unique to the Hutterites. As much as you may think you're different, we really are much more the same as people. Hope to see more of you all :)

    Mary

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  16. Thanks, Mary. I will only say this, from a Hutterite prespective it looks very, very different. You cannot begin to understand how we feel. Now adding insult to injury we learn that the producer promised it will be a documentary...which it's clearly not.

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  17. I am not a Hutterite, however I did know about them before this show. There were colonies around a few places I have lived, Moose Jaw and Calgary. Anyway, being a closed society I have been interested in their way of life. I had hoped to gain insight by watching the show, however, you could tell just by the filming that it was likely staged. My only question has to do with the drinking. From what I have read it appears that the "cast" was upset that their drinking ended up on national television. Does this mean they do drink but only in private or that they don't drink at all? No one seemed to be having trouble with drinking (ie: flavour, etc.) If they do drink what is the big deal if the world knows it? It would have been preferable to actually follow a day in the life but unfortunately, ratings matter most to networks and money speaks louder than truth these days. I have not been given a bad impression of the Hutterites from this show. A silly show on tv will certainly not stop me from dealing with them. I actually quite admire their dedication to their faith and envy their much simplier life style.

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  18. The cast is upset about most of it, because they were promised a documentary and it's clearly a reality show, which I'm sure Jeff Collins planned all along. He didn't care that he was misrepresenting an entire people. Yes, he keeps saying he loves the Hutterites. And why not? There are thousands of reasons. And they're all in the bank.

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