Alaskan Woman

Looking in the Popular Culture Mirror

Erin Jutras

Mirror Essay Draft #1


Daneen Bergland


Alaskan Woman

            In the last few years the United States has sparked an interest in Alaska, a state that, until recently, had only been cared about for it’s gold, oil, and placement near Russia to protect from attacks during World War II. Now, this strange cold state has struck an interest in the rest of the world. It has been a stage for many movies and Alaskan-based reality TV shows, many of which have grown popular. Sadly, I have found these shows to be a misinterpretation of the Alaska, and Alaskans, I grew up with. People from the continental United States, or Lower 48 (as Alaskans call it), only know about Alaska from what they’ve seen on the television. In my visits to the lower 48 and now living in Portland for college, I see how these TV…

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2 thoughts on “Alaskan Woman

  1. Hi Erin, I love being able to read your first draft to your finished draft. It is great to see how you were able to tie all of your ideas together, while keeping your voice and focusing on the essays key points.
    My favorite part about your essay is that you talk about how it is to live in Alaska and how all of these TV shows are wrongly portraying people and how they live in Alaska. I also like how you show a sort of counterargument and in a way and agreement with how the women are taken off the island to find suitors, and how you yourself feel like you have just family, and no suitors in Kodiak.
    The essay by Eva Holland was really interesting. I like how you brought more information about it into your final essay. I am going to look this up after reading your article, because I have been watching a lot of Alaskan shows lately, and I think it would be fun to see what you are talking about in regards to Eva’s version of what it is like in Canada. I can see how Eva depicted a much more independent woman than the other shows, and I can see how you relate to her more.
    I think that Alaskans can be portrayed as barbaric as you say, but my favorite show right now is Alaska, the ultimate Survival, and it shows how hard it is to survive in Alaska. I think any Alaskan is a strong person, and I would never call any one from Alaska barbaric. I believe Portland has a sense of needing to be functional like Alaska, but more towards our temperate rainforest environment, so I can relate. I hope to venture to Alaska one day, and you made me want to go even more, knowing now how friendly the people are. Thank you, Erin.

    • I’m from Alaska as well and she is correct about the exaggerations and incorrect portrayals on television. I don’t know why there is such a sudden fascination with my home but it’s been really over the top. I think it’s easy to manipulate the characters through editing and the people on those shows appear to be more than eager to simply play along. The worst I’ve seen is the show set in a taxidermy shop. The producers manage to make everyone look like the intellectual equivalent of Larry the Cable Guy. When I was a kid my grandparents lived in a cabin with no plumbing. If you washed any liquid down the sink it flushed outside through a pipe and we used an out house to go to the bathroom. Maybe they can make a show out of that? I think it would be far more accurate than some of the stuff I’ve seen on T.V. in the last ten years. If you like the concept, there is a great piece produced by PBS called Alone in the Wilderness. It’s about a guy who moved to western Alaska in the early 60’s to build a cabin and live off the land. He filmed everything with an 8mm camera and kept a diary for 25 years, the whole time he was there. He left in the early 90’s and the parks department maintains his cabin as it now sits inside a national park. It’s real footage of what it’s like to live this way. No Hollywood and no writing. Very cool stuff.

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