This morning a friend sent me the first episode of a “reality T.V. show” that just aired on the Discover Channel called Salvage City and after watching it, I have absolutely no doubt that anyone associated with this show is benefiting by presenting St Louis as a trashed city. Proud St. Louisans should know this is happening, band together and fight to make sure the world knows how great this city is.
St Louis is a great city and presenting otherwise should be considered shameful.
The premise of the staged show is that Sam Coffey "The Salvage King" and Chris Totter "Junkyard Giant" are breaking into abandon buildings to "save" relics from being destroyed or lost. They openly say that the police are lurking around every corner and imply that the buildings are perilously close to falling down. Once they have made their discoveries and escape, they bring their artifacts to their designer Mia Brown who helps them fix up the items and sell them at auction or to enthusiastic buyers. The show constantly talks about there being "no time," so as to create a sense of importance and urgency that isn't really there.
The opening lines of the show (put to music and police sirens):
"At one-time St. Louis was one finest cities in the world, when industry moved overseas driving factories and warehouses became a rust-belt boneyard
I see beauty where other people see sh*t.
My crew breaks into abandoned buildings saves historic artifacts that we can repurpose and sell. And we get out just before the cops get in.
Death is right around the corner if you're not careful but, that's how I make my living... this ain't a city- it's a fu**ing gold mine son."
Every frame of the show is cut to make St Louis look like it is falling down.
Actors Coffey and Totter go into buildings and complain about hypodermic needles, show evidence of people having slept on the floors, and they even have their german shepherd scout the area to make sure no one will jump out from the shadows to hurt them. All of this is done to imply tension in buildings they were clearly given permission to enter because those buildings are about to be renovated. I am sure they find rough places, and there is dirt behind St. Louis's ears, but this portrayal is outlandish and frankly it is silly.
Why would anyone want to portray our city this way? There is so much else to be proud of, this is but one tiny piece of the underbelly of the city. The artifacts may be cool, but when all is said and done, the publicity is created by pushing proud St Louisans to the ground.
St. Louis is a city of hope and it is right there on the cutting edge.
The show portrays falling down and abandon buildings, shots from down in the railway yards, and dilapidation of some of the parts of the city- but painting the city as a war zone is a foil used to grab attention and as a result leaves our city looking undesirable to our fellow countrymen.
The implication that St Louis is a wasteland is offensive, dangerous, and completely irresponsible. Hundreds if not thousands of small businesses work hard every day to attract talent to this vibrant and growing city and the businessmen involved in this show are willing to go on national television and burn down all of our hard work.
St Louis has built the Danfourth Plant Science Center (where scientists are fighting against things like Root Rust that could prevent millions of people from famine), Cortex (where some of the most important genetics and nanotechnology work in the world is being done) , the ArchGrants (where scrappy upstarts are fighting to find the next business that will bring value to the economy).
St. Louis throw off the image of failure and embrace our place as a leader in many industries.
These organizations are at the very edge of discovery. Our creative companies are producing some of the very best design in the country. Our non-profits curate art, produce the top-notch theater and music, and our culinary expertise may be odd to outsiders but we have damn good BBQ and concretes from Ted Drewes!
But every one of these communities will tell you that it is hard to keep attracting new talent because people have a skewed image of what it is like to live in St. Louis. Shows like this are pretending to salvage the remaining wreckage are making our work harder.
I resolve to celebrate our wins and leave behind those that can't see it.
Our city is our lives. It is where we work, it is our community, it is the very place that we exist together and I believe that we should defend this from anyone who seeks to take it from us with dreams of lining their own pockets. St. Louis is our home!
In truth, the Sun Theater (the building they are "breaking into") is actually undergoing an $11 million dollar renovation. I wonder if the investors of renovation and restoration projects understand that their buildings are being shown to the world as "boneyards" that are rightfully picked over by the lowest common denominator. I wonder if the growing businesses in St. Louis that hire film companies to do promotional videos aimed at attracting new talent realize that their city is being portrayed this way.
We should fight for the real picture of this wonderful city.
Forest Park, the Arch, the City Museum, the Zoo, the Botanical Gardens, the Central West End, Tower Grove, Cherokee Street, the Loop, and hundreds of other places-- are all being overlooked because these iconic places do not fit the narrative created by shows like this.
So many of us are working with the unrelenting mission of making this city great. Have you seen the construction in the Central West End? The Urban Chestnut Brewery being built in the Grove, the incredible resurgence of life in this city that is spectacular right now! I could not possible list all of the ways our city is thriving.
I may be new, but I will defend it from people who want to be considered its looters!
People are glorifying looting (despite not actually looting) and should be shamed publicly for it. Since the inception of civilization looting is one of the lowest acts a person can commit against their fellow man. This should not be looked upon lightly- it should be looked upon with absolute disgust.
Let us call to task the building owners that allow their buildings to be portrayed this way. Let us interfere with with these messages of hopelessness. St Louis is a wonderful place deserving of mounting a great defense against these want-to-be-looters claiming to be saving the wreckage when really they are glorifying theft of personal property. This is a city full of life, this is a city that is charging into the future. We are doing amazing things and that is what should be celebrated!
Put your comments below about how you think we can fight this scourge:
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