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  The Chatter Box : The Series
A comment about a very old travel of Mr. Palin - BULGARIA by Preslava on 28 December 2009 10:33pm
It is already about 2 years ago when Mr. Palin visited Bulgaria and made a very short presentation of it in his 2007 series ”New Europe”. I didn't know anything about it until today when I happened to see it.
Though it is most probably of no importance to Mr. Palin himself and his audience, I would like to post a comment on it.
I do apologize, however, to his fans who like his travels and the way he sees the countries, for this comment will contain rather oppositional views.
I am not competent enough to judge whether Mr. Palin manages to represent the rest of the world correctly and accurately but I am sure he failed on that with Bulgaria. Of course, true presentation might have not been, at all, the final goal. Perhaps it was more about seeking remarkable and strange peculiarities, which cause curiosity and some sort of sensation – if this was the case here, then I must indeed correct myself because Mr. Palin did a great job in this direction.
The way he showed and represented Bulgaria was quite inconclusive for the least to say. Moreover, picking the juicy oddities of some members of one society is not exactly as making a portrait of it. It is rather as making a caricature. Most certainly, in his part as a journalist, Mr. Palin is aware of this effect.
The only thing, I am glad for, is that the film gave a glimpse to our spiritual society, the White Brotherhood, and the Paneurithmy – ingenious movements and exercises for physical and spiritual welfare of the individual and the society; a philosophical and spiritual teaching that originates from Bulgaria. However, even on this sacred practice it was commented rather loose along with the laconic and inaccurate explanation of what it was really meant for. How unique and special was the one, who brought it to the Bulgarian people, was hardly mentioned. Instead, this spiritual doctrine was called more or less a mix of other spiritual or religious movements. Either bravery or indiscretion can only allow a summary made in a hurried and lax manner. Such matter of spiritual believes should be, I think, approached with much deeper understanding and more thorough digging in its background, purpose and meaning or else it is exposed grotesquely only as some exotic exhibit in a show parade or in the circus.
Although the size of the attention paid to each country of the route is determined probably by the size of each country, I found it quite strange that Bulgaria, being undoubtedly a member of this “New Europe”, was hardly given half of the second series. Meanwhile, to a EU border country such as Turkey, which still struggles to be accepted unconditionally in the European community, it was dedicated more than a double of it. However, even this is not so important and should be considered as fiddling criticism if it was not the following: Bulgaria is not mentioned at all in the BBC briefing for series 2 while Turkey is displayed as the “target”. One can easily feel the old and unchanged attitude from previous (19th and early 20th centuries) ages: Bulgaria is just a transit territory to Istanbul, nothing more. Then, the name “New Europe” should be definitely reconsidered and perhaps shifted back to the “Old Europe”.
Finally, in the small piece about Bulgaria we see scenes showing extremities of tragedy and poverty, human degradation and state of neglect. I wonder how much time Mr. Palin did spend to find these awful places, to search for the “ugly truth” so to say. I wonder whether he really believes that this is what the spirit of Bulgaria is, that this is what characterizes the whole country. I do not wonder at all, on the other hand, whether one can see even worse pictures in the most developed countries, including his own. I am fully convinced that such social problems and shocking dropping behind of individuals or groups of people is to be seen everywhere in the world and that each country is struggling with it every day, seeking for solutions. Is this what Mr. Palin is interested in? The backyard of one country? A backyard that is not typical or common even for the half of its population. He certainly is looking for some sort of oddness because his choice of Bulgaria’s “front face” is one of our most eccentric singers whose notorious fame and scandalous personality is surrounded by a great deal of debates and contradictions within our society itself. How come Mr. Palin overlooked this fact and chose exactly this person as some kind of symbolic figure and speaker for the rest of Bulgaria? Was it so hard to find another “celebrity” who is less questioned by the overall community?
Showing some outrageous contrasts does not give any clear picture of what it is but only a fragmented, and to a certain degree, manipulated view of what a person sought and observed. Therefore, it is logical and fair to conclude by saying that what was shown about Bulgaria in these series was more about Mr. Palin’s subjective opinion of what best describes us and much less about the objective and true reality of the Bulgarian people and the Bulgarian culture. Perhaps, if his viewpoint was at least a bit more respecting and more carefully well-grounded towards our whole nation there would have been no objections from my side or, I am sure on that – from many Bulgarians like me who hold, on their hand, a proper and hearty admiration for England and for the United Kingdom in general. After all, the way you see us shapes the way we see you as well as the other way round. That is why great care and consideration is required about the effects and affects both over the domestic and the overseas public when undertaking such “representative” and “informative” initiatives.
This is not a plead solely coming out of patriotic feelings but a remark towards the duty and responsibility which even Mr. Palin has with his entertaining trips. I would like to draw his attention to the responsibility he bears for the hospitable countries, which welcome and host him on his travels. I do not think it would be too much if these countries expect the impartial, comprehensive, open-minded and objective reason, of which English people really deserve to be proud. The reason, which already broke so many stereotypes and clichés about nations, cultures and the world itself. Everybody who dares to show a culture should at least make the effort to study it a bit before representing it to the others. Otherwise, there is no way of escaping from misrepresentations and creating or reaffirming negative prejudices. Moreover, the latter is a direct consequence of the misuse of media power. Therefore, please, Mr. Palin, do really consider more carefully and consciously the power you have – as small or big as it may be.
I am aware that I am publishing this critical message here in this friendly community, which supports Mr. Palin, and I am truly sorry if this comment causes irritation or annoyance among it. Its purpose is not to attack Mr. Palin’s work but only to say that he could have done much better particularly in the case of Bulgaria and should have not rushed over us with such an overwhelming air of superiority.

Preslava Petrova
Re: A comment about a very old travel of Mr. Palin - BULGARIA by peripatetically on 28 December 2009 11:12pm
Preslava, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I am impressed with your well thought-through message and the way you expressed it. Very good English, with few mistakes, which matter little, I might add.)

I know from reading this web site that one would think everyone here is a huge believer in everything Michael utters. I will admit to not agreeing with many things in which he believes. But that is beside the point. I still like him, as I do others whose ideals and opinions differ from mine. Still, back to the point of your letter. I have noticed in some of his travel series the same thing you mentioned. Much of what he says is purely his own opinion--- how HE views what he sees and hears. I don't necessarily agree with everything he says and stands for politically. There have been people from other countries covered in "New Europe" who have complained about the lack of time dedicated to their homelands too. Some of them more or less agree with your basic views about misrepresentation.

Re: A comment about a very old travel of Mr. Palin - BULGARIA by Preslava on 29 December 2009 9:46am
Thank you, Patty, for your kind and warm understanding. I was still not sure this morning whether it is correct to spoil one's fan site with critics as inoffensive as they might be and was about to erase the message :) My purpose is not to undermine Mr. Palin's image and success. I am sure, he has done a lot to desrve his popularity and the support of many people.
Now, however, seeing your reply I decided not to hurry with deleting - I will do it only if this message causes some unnecessary conflict among the people who like to visit the site. As long as it is a peaceful and calm discussion, I hope that even Mr. Palin will not have anything against it.
Thank you once again and Happy New Year!
Re: A comment about a very old travel of Mr. Palin - BULGARIA by peripatetically on 29 December 2009 1:40pm
That's alright, Preslava. We're all here for a healthy discussion. I

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