In the film “Cannibal Tours,” rich tourists go on a cruise to New Guinea and interact with the local people. It’s interesting to note how the tourists interact with the local people and try to understand them. Throughout the film, the tourists believed that they were encountering people who were in the “state of nature. ” They believed that these people represented how their own ancestors would have lived. The tourists thought of the locals as primitive, not modern, even animals. They were like attractions in a zoo, there for the people’s entertainment and enjoyment.
Overall the impression that the tourists had of the locals was very dehumanized. The main purpose from what I inferred was that the people were touring for bragging rights. They wanted to be able to say that they saw a primitive culture that would soon disappear. The locals, on the other hand, understood the tourists far better. They jokingly stated that they must be their ancestors but they didn’t actually believe in it. They understood that these people were rich folk, who were going around trying to educate themselves. I thought it was amazing as to how much the natives were affected by the tourists.
Over time, the native people’s goal became to earn money from the tourists. The locals needed the money to send their kids to school and buy material goods such as modern clothes. One guy even commented that it’s hard to make money but he can’t do much about it, so he just stood there as a lady took pictures of him. Missionaries had come and converted kids, teaching them Christian songs. Soon natives seemed like they were losing their culture. Due to the colonization, ancient artifacts were destroyed and the elders were very upset. But there was no way to restore anything.
It’s interesting to note how dependent the natives became on the tourists. They evolved from their secluded village to a dependent one. Money became a tool of power. Two different kinds of primitivism were discussed in class, Hobbes and Rousseau. Hobbes’ theory stated that the people were primitive and immoral that they needed to develop themselves and become more like the Europeans. Rousseau’s theory outlined that the modern people have lost this connection to nature that is desirable. But they both highlight the fact that primitivism exists.
I feel as if the Hobbes’ version was outlined more in the film. The tourists’ viewpoint was very Hobbesian because they believed themselves to be the superior group and thought of the locals as primitives and beneath them. Overall the movie was interesting. It raised a lot of questions on how we as tourists can interact with locals and actually learn something from them instead of being so surface-level. Another main issue that came up was how to prevent the culture loss of all these places as they become more industrialized?