TV Review: ‘Sex Trafficking in Cambodia: Stacey Dooley Investigates’
Earlier this month the BBC aired a show called Sex Trafficking in Cambodia: Stacey Dooley Investigates – an informative title, as the show was about sex trafficking in Cambodia, hosted by Stacey Dooley.
Nope, I’d never heard of her either. I deduced that she must be a brilliant undercover reporter – so brilliant that nobody ever knew she existed until now. My deduction was wrong. She’s a 23 year old from Luton with a very thick accent (in both senses of the word. But I don’t have accent prejudice. Being the main ethnic minority at SOAS – a northerner - I’ve often been accused of sounding stupid.)
In fact, it turned out that I had come across her before. She’d summed up her life philosophy in a show called Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts: ‘I love love love love fashion. I just love hanging out at the shops and buying the world.’ In the show, Stacey, along with 5 other Brits with similar theories of existence, was sent to India where she was shown how her stupid view on life was funded by child labour and human rights abuses.
Apparently, that was Stacey’s rite of passage - she’s now been transformed into a 21st century Mother Theresa. Minus the Catholicism. And accusations of evangelism. And, it seems, any knowledge of the world or how it works.
So, Mother Stacey is sent to Cambodia to be the saviour of child sex trafficking. She quickly gives us her first impressions: ‘It’s a lot more glam, a lot more current than I thought it would be. I thought I was gonna kinda rock up in a (sic) old school village.’ Cambodia has stuff that we have too! Bricks! Vehicles! Beer! Like us! Who’d have thought it?!?! Oh, shut up, Stacey’s mind, and stop using those uncouth exclamation marks.
The show continues in this vein, with Stacey simultaneously oversimplifying the issues and patronising Cambodia’s people. Her reaction to a Khmer-run organisation, which puts girls in education so they don’t become prostitutes, is ‘Awww, that’s good.’ How cute, the locals are organising something themselves.
Whenever somebody is speaking Khmer, Stacey pretends to listen and understand. That in itself isn’t bad; all reporters do the same, but most manage to do it with a certain elegance. Stacey, on the other hand, nods her head and adopts a wide-eyed, gormless expression. Her thoughts must be: ‘What a very silly language they’re speaking. What’s wrong with English?’
The worst part, though, is when she informs us that, ‘the Prime Minister has told all the police and all the big dudes at the top, “No, stop using the brothels, stop using the girls, stop exploiting the underage sex workers, just pack it in.”’ With this statement, Stacey seems to be implying that Hun Sen, the Prime Minister, is a good man. She fails to mention that he is ex-Khmer Rouge and was somewhat instrumental in screwing up the country and ruining people’s lives in the first place. If he hadn’t been smart enough to join the current government, he’d very likely be facing trial at the moment.
So, if you’re a fresher desperate to get to grips with the concept of Orientalism, make it easy for yourself – don’t read Said, watch Stacey.