On 17 July 2016, it only took 13 minutes for the Australian Channel 9 show to make a circus out of the Samoan Prime Minister and the Samoan prison system. Although it's caused a bit of excitement among Samoans, I think we're giving it more credit then it deserves.
As far as the angle of the story was concerned, I felt they had successfully hit their mark. I mean, Liam Bartlett is a veteran and 60 minutes is top-shelf journalism (*cough*), so the honourable Tuilaepa should've seen the editing on the wall (see what I did there?). They cunningly put a moekolo, a prison, and a tragic rape incident under the microscope to put out a warning to all tourists visiting Samoa matalasi. But I couldn't help but wonder whether Samoan tourism fell victim to a corporate rivalry between Channel 9 and 10. Isn't Samoan Survivor showing in a couple of weeks on channel 10? Heck, I bet Liam had a blast in Samoa on Channel 9's account!
But here's a few concoctions my coconut brewed up when watching this 13 minute piece:
Firstly, I was disappointed with Liams opening statement saying that there is no intention to rubbish Samoan tourism, only to have the next 12 minutes rubbishing a specific resort and then showing an edit where it appears the Prime Minister supports the notion by saying it's best that Tourists stay within a specific area. What da falaimoa?
Second, there was a time and space where Samoa never had a prison system. All judgements and punishments were carried out within the context of the village chiefs. I wondered if this Tualima lived 100 years ago and carried out the same crimes, would he even still be alive? There was no death penalty in Samoa, but beatings were off-the-record. (tongue and cheek). Maybe Samoa trying to adopt a foreign system doesn't work so well for them, and I'm not just talking about the prison system. The 13 minutes of this episode made a deliberate beeline to contextualise Samoa as a first world westernised society. Referencing the money that is sent from Australia to assist in projects of upgrading their infrastructure etc. Samoa are not primitive but to make comparisons to Australia is bit of a of stretch. What do we call this? Media colonisation?
Thirdly, and probably the most pressing issue when I was watching this show was the fact Tommy had to suffer the ordeal of his new wife being raped next to him. I am well against any form of sexual abuse, and I mean no disrespect to the couple and especially the husband. But that Tualima could only have touched my wife over my dead body. I was upset for both of them and angry at Tommy for not putting his life on the line to protect his new bride. Maybe it's just me, but I would struggle to look my wife in the eye afterwards, knowing that I could've thrown pillows, the mattress, the bed base,...hell my whole body at this creep of a man who held a knife and threatened my wife with it. But bigups to the couple for working through this tragedy. But men, let this be a lesson. Die for your woman!!
Fourthly, the hypocrisy of an Australian journalism program to scream danger on a small island. Did 60 minutes forget about "The Backpack Murders?" among other incidents for Australian visitors? Didn't Wolf Creek make a grand exhibition of putting the fear in those young travellers that dare to travel down under to see the Devils Marbles? (Oh hell no I didn't) So before the pot calls the kettle black, and you get overwhelmed by the 13 minute barrage of Bellzeebubs bollocks. Ask yourself, have cases of visitors being raped and/or tragically murdered in Australia made this country a dangerous country to visit for a holiday break? No, Australia is an awesome place to visit....and/or in my case, live.
Lastly, did this story really deserve to be alongside the horrific ordeal in Nice, and the #BlackLivesMatter tension going down in USA? Maybe it was just me, but I thought the Samoan tourism story was small fish compared to it's counterparts in this particular sequence.
Let's not get too worked up about the 13 minute coverage. I'm pretty sure 60 minutes haven't done enough to destroy Samoan Tourism. I think the greatest harm in this story was done to the couple that will have to work through all the emotional pain from their traumatic experience which was meant to be their honeymoon and the tourist businesses that will have to deal with the immediate devastation that will last much longer than 13 minutes
p.s who the heck is Tualimas parents? I wonder if Tualima will be a Samoan Survivor?