Burning Man Project and Discovery Channel

A unique and distinctive culture emerges from the Burning Man experience. Rooted in the values expressed by the Ten Principles, this culture is manifested around the globe through art, communal effort, and innumerable individual acts of self-expression. To many, it is a way of life.
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Burning Man Project and Discovery Channel

Post by mstephrussell » Fri Sep 09, 2005 1:49 am

The following was sent to Maid Marian in regards to an issue that I believe deserves greater attention.


I am a 3rd time attendee of the Burning Man Event, just recently back. It was at this year's BM that I heard some individuals speaking on stage at Center Camp in regards to an arrangement between the Discovery Channel and the Burning Man Project. Wait, let's back up for a sec.

Early on in my introduction to the Burning Man, in the first year before I went out three years ago, I attended a free lecture in my town by Larry Harvey. I had heard about the Burning Man for years before that, and had talked to different folks who had gone, and I was curious. It was then that I met Larry, chatted with him briefly, and had the opportunity to hear directly about the principles that the Burning Man was based on and operated on, when I decided to participate. "An Experiment in Community Dictated by Extreme Survival Conditions. Radical Self _Expression." Upon the first year, I got a real first person experience. The community, the art work, and the beautiful desert all together was well worth the trip, and I have made the commitment each year since to devote my own resources to the Burning Man. I have been honored to be a participant in and a citizen of Black Rock City. I was told from Day One at the gate of BRC "Welcome Home", and I took it to heart.

I view that participation as a contract of good faith that exists three ways between myself, the other attendees, and the Burning Man Project. Now, after the fact I am finding out that I am unwitting player in a TV show that I never agreed to. I am participating in a small way, or a big way, either way in another mechanism to sell product.

I remember a few years ago, I am in the airport (I might have been in route to BRC). In a hurry to get to my destination, and about to enter a moving sidewalk, I almost miss the sign posted on the front of it. I don't recall the exact wording, but the jist of it was that I was being recorded for a reality show on airports, and if I did not concede to this filming, that I should go right away to the proper authorities to inform them of my intentions. I am sure that most travelers did not even notice the post, nor did they have the time between connecting flights, and /or TSA probings to go chase down some bureaucrat to protect their own privacy. Well, personally I made the call to step on board the treadmill to sell more crap, and engaged in a series of lewd gestures that would most likely insure that my presence end up on the editing room floor. Never saw the show, but I did hear an advertisement for it one time, and it occur ed to me then what production value they got by cutting that labor cost down to next to nothing, no paid talent, just concept people and editors. Oh, and one little check written to the airport.

I have deep personal connection to the Burning Man, and a large part of the whole experience is that I make this journey once a year across vast distance into harsh survival conditions in order to get away from the trappings of commercialism. Now I am reminded to what extent those who need to sell colored bubbles will go to find fresh meat to fillet. I don't know all the details of the deal, and most of the time I would not give a care, but this time around I do care, very much so. Burning Man is not just the Project. Burning Man would not exist without the people who come to make it happen, and Burning Man belongs to everyone who came thru that gate, including me.

So, I would greatly appreciate some straight talk. From what I understand, the Project agreed to have a crew from Discovery Channel attend the event and shoot footage for use in a television show to be broadcast. Was the BMP in on this undertaking, and if so were they paid a fee for it, and why was the community not told about it before hand? Will the community have an opportunity to have a say in whether or not this show is broadcast or released in any way? What if Discovery decides to ignore the wishes of the BMP and do what it wants with this content? Is the BMP really prepared to enter into an expensive legal battle with a big boy like Discovery with deep legal pockets? What are your intentions?

Yours truly

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Post by spectabillis » Fri Sep 09, 2005 7:17 am


Entire topic (and effort) behind this.

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Post by robbidobbs » Tue Sep 13, 2005 1:39 pm

Sounds like someone needs to do their homework w/ regards to Media Mecca.

Next "problem".

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Post by DaBomb » Sat Sep 24, 2005 11:00 am

Well somebody did do their homework, robbidobbs. Check it out:


The next "problem" is BMorg's media policy (or in the case, lack thereof) relevant to the 10 principles.* Specifically "decommodification"

The issue is about BMorg selling media rights for an “undisclosed amount” on one hand, and the promoting “participation, gifting economy, volunteerism and non-commercialization” on the other hand, which undeniably gives an appearance of a double standard.

Principle #3


In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.



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