11 May 2009


United States - 1992
Director – ?
Delta Queen Steamboat Company, 1999, VHS
Run time: 5 minutes

This is going to be an intense journey through five minutes of concentrated advertising, and it’s amazing that for the shortest film I’ve reviewed I have more images than any other film I’ve reviewed.

If you believe that Dixieland, that is the plantations and legalised racial hierarchy is nostalgic, then Steamboatin’ tours are for you. The Steamboatin’ tours are all about reclaiming a lost piece of American history, and eating, and making both of them sound incredibly appealing. Steamboatin’ is an experience in long term consequence denial. You can look back in admiration at the history and feel nostalgic despite the slavery, while looking forward with covetous desire to unlimited helpings of chess pie despite the obesity and heart disease.

If the details of the tour sound a little bit dubious, the testimonials of the cosmetics caked blond folks who’ve taken the cruise, and those who lead them will reassure you that this is completely unlike the “blue water” cruises you’ve heard about. Steamboatin’ cruises (perpetual emphasis on the apostrophe blank, because it’s fucking colloquial and hence authentic) take you to the heart of America where you can witness the majesty and splendor of Ohio cornfields and admire the fully restored celebrations of institutionalized racial exploitation all set to a grating loop of canned popular American folk song clips.

It's one thing to read about these things or have them recited to you by the strung out tour manager, but its another thing entirely to go on shore yourself, and "go back in time" to see the plantations and re-live American history (which I'm beginning to gather includes whipping) the way mark Twain would have (only with a buffet line). We love the plantations and American history and on Steamboatin' tours you can see the plantations and really enjoy it just as much as we do.

One assumes that the women behind the matte-finish all-weather exterior are referring to the melanin endowed crew of the boat, prominently featured performing authentically menial duties. They may not all be authentically “black” but they are definitely not white.

On board in your tacky suite you can sit awkwardly in uncomfortable furniture and pretend to read, or even write things down. On deck after enjoying any number of authentic meatballs, hushpuppies and/or dumplings you can stand on deck and gaze at the thrilling paddle wheel churning you at 8 miles an hour past an authentic river bank like they used to have back then.

If you're tired of artificial vacations, and want a truly authentic one in which you are able to really "get situated" and unpack and experience authentic local American culture and plantations between meals, then come on down and join us on the beautiful and historic Delta Queen Steamboat where the only thing historically inauthentic is that we don't openly speak about our racism, we just keep it in our heartland.

The Delta Queen and her sister ships do have an inherent historical value at least, completely removed from this context, but as of this writing they are no longer plying the muddy waters of middle Americana, and are in fact up for sale. So that makes this video like, rare right?

Because I know you want to read it, I present you with every single goddamned page of the Steamboatin' brochure included with this video.

And of course the rare shore tour certificate. I was lucky enough to get an authentic original in my copy of the Steamboatin' promotional video.

1 comment:

Regis said...

Now that's good history.