Wednesday, 26 October 2005

stranger danger

In PNG there are some really bad, locally made tv adverts. Seriously bad. (The chook that talks and the person who squawks, for instance; I think it’s an ad for flour or rice; you cringe in sympathy for the [human] actors, every time: that squawk and the way they have to flap their elbows, so humiliating…The girls who “become women” by using x hair gel, and go out to…an almost deserted room to play pool. The music in the background…etc etc.)

This morning, yes when I was watching morning tv (am now back at home and without a television, so will go back to serious highbrow reading habits; tomorrow it is Henry James over breakfast), I saw an older ad which made me pause. It is for PNG tourism, and this time the quality was pretty good; it was the message that surprised. “Make visitors feel welcome!” a voice-over intoned as a mixed-race couple waited at a hotel reception desk. “Give them a smile!” I’d seen it before but today its emphasis struck me: the tourism industry’s intent here is not on selling PNG to tourists, but on selling tourists to Papua New Guineans.

Stranger-danger attitudes are common – less about whiteskins (everyone knows they’re strange, and they are) than about people from other districts and provinces. It’s not easy travelling here, but with a bit of work from both sides – tourists and locals – it is rewarding and surprising, and often unique.

(And this picture is not really related, other than that it depicts objects that might sell to tourists: beautiful green beetles threaded on to wires over a metre long. Why and what for and from where, I don’t know; but they look cool.)

No comments: