My work-from-home/Internet-shut-in equivalent of a cigarette break is Puddin', a minute-long "live action single panel comic" (their description, not mine) that appears every schoolday around noon ET. Set in a depressing Anyplace, USA lunchroom and featuring a revolving cast of comics, including the quite possibly insane Eddie Pepitone, it's as low-fi as it is awesomely, hilariouslyfoul. Its non sequitur-laden diatribes never fail to brighten my mood.
[Warning: do not click on any of those links if you are easily offended, politically correct to the point of humorlessness or otherwise possessed of a mild disposition. There are plenty of Internet destinations for gentlefolk. Click here instead, or here.]
Anyway, Google serves ads at the bottom of each Puddin' video, most of which have some topical or attitudinal compatibility with the material at hand. But the other day, creased along the bottom of a strip in which Pepitone unleashes his usual torrent of invective, was an ad touting "Nepal and the Mystical Himalayas." I clicked. How could I not? Puddin', and pudding for that matter, ain't free.
I was immediately transported to a nine-minute-long film created by Overseas Adventure Travel, a company whose name tells you more or less everything you need to know about it. The video documents one of its flagship journeys, to villages in the Annapurna Mountains in Nepal. It features lots of scenic vistas and quotes from polite older travelers (POTs).
That, in a nutshell, is the problem. To properly convey the majesty of the setting, it takes a lot more than a bunch of folks prattling at length about the scenery (the mountains are described by one individual as "very, very tall") and their love for the trip leader ("I think he's great. He is so well informed and he's so well organized"). For that matter, the trip leader barely registers, beyond a moment in which he attempts to answer a question about a local bridge's suitability for passage via mule. If anybody's gonna help us out with the "mystical" part of the film's title, it'd probably be him, rather than the POTs.
I understand why the POTs are featured so prominently: individuals of their particular ilk are the target market for such trips. At the same time, their yips about "getting to experience the culture" start to irk after the 18th such declaration. The videomakers do the POTs somewhat of a disservice by emphasizing their transcultural delight in sitting in on a local class and then handing out pencils and toothbrushes to the schoolchildren. It's like, awww, look who's doing nice things for non-white people! And really, for the price of admission, the POTs should be treated to far more in the way of adventure - think early-morning tent raids, or a sit-down with a master maker of the adventure-hatwear they all seem to enjoy so much.
In the end, "Nepal and the Mystical Himalayas" is too long and too broadly painted, even for what ultimately amounts to a travel come-on. But even as I dismiss the way the video goes about its imperial-tourism business, I give major props to Overseas Adventure Travel for creating it.
It would've been easy for OAT to market its packages by plastering a bunch of thumbs-up-smileypeople photos on a web page, begging for Facebook like-age and calling it an afternoon. Instead, the company assembled a jumbo-ad/mini-film that, while bloated, is professionally shot, edited, paced and scored. Lop about five minutes off the top and rein in the commentators, and we could have something here.