A few days ago, an investigative documentary named “Booze, Bar Crawls And Bulgaria” hosted by the famous British journalist Stacy Dooley, was aired on BBC and caused great negative uproar and disgust in the British media against Bulgaria. As a Bulgarian, I strongly ENCOURAGE all of you to watch this film be it on YouTube or when it airs AGAIN on BBC this Thursday and Sunday, and answer this question: “Who is to blame and should be more ashamed for what goes on in Sunny Beach: Bulgaria or the British tourists?”
Now I am not interested in playing the blame game here and normally I would not be the one to run in head first and defend Bulgaria as I am a firm believer in tough love and where criticism is due, I certainly give it. However I find this film to be a deliberate and conscious attempt to further stigmatize Bulgaria and its people if not on a world-wide scale, then at least in the eyes of the already highly intimidated by the “coming wave of poor Bulgarian immigrants” British society. In short, the viewer needs to view this documentary trough a critical lens and definitely not independent of the negative campaigns that have been propagated in the UK towards the image of Bulgaria and its citizens.
May it be as it is, I am interested in understanding the motivation behind this investigative documentary. What does it aim to really do? What does it hope to accomplish and why?
The host, Stacy Dooley says: “I am here to observe why tourists come to Sunny Beach”. Yet from what the film shows, it does not appear that this is your typical travel-destination-type documentary that aims to highlight Sunny Beach as a new popular holiday destination and find out what the buzz is all about. Quite the opposite! The film focuses on the negative sides of what could be any party-holiday destination and at times (ex. the segment with the Gypsy camp) it even concerns itself with complex socio-economic divides. Still what I seem to fail to understand is how showing a part of the Bulgarian population living in extreme poverty is relevant to why tourists come to Sunny Beach? …Unless of course, there is an alternative motive to do so, which then makes perfect sense.
Even then, can anyone really believe that none of the other popular vacation destinations around the world, such as the Caribbean, South American or South East Asian countries to which we all love to flock given the chance, do not have a similar poverty or tourist binge drinking situation on their hands? They do, but you won’t see such investigative documentaries about them flying around the internet and across well respected media outlets like we have seen here. I am far away from the thought of excusing Bulgaria in any way, shape or form for its internal injustices and can only hope that they find their speedy resolutions, but I find it quite unfair to put the spotlight on this one country, as if she is the only one battling these challenges.
And while I am still unclear about the goals of the documentary, I can tell you quite surely what it will NOT accomplish. It will certainly not tarnish Bulgaria’s reputation as a holiday destination among young, cash strapped, freedom loving albeit quite uncontrollable and reckless young Brits! With the constant emphasis on how “outrageously cheap” the booze is (mind you Sunny Beach is one of the MOST expensive places in the country), the laxed control, readily available illicit drugs, the non-stop orgies and virtually nonexistent danger of a potential run-in with the police, this film has managed to successfully described every Spring breaker’s dream vacation!!! All I can hear them say now is “AWESOME!!! When can I go???” Thank you for the free publicity. We couldn’t have done it better!
Complaining about bars organizing “pub crawls” (last I checked that is a British cultural nuance that as of recently has been introduced in Bulgaria) and selling as many drinks as they possibly can (umm, does capitalism and free market economy ring a bell here at all?) without addressing the disrespectful and out of control behavior of the British tourist is simply laughable and very hypocritical. If I did not know any better, I would think that Ms. Dooley is acting as a disgruntled parent asking for an explanation from the school principal as to why her child misbehaves in class! Seriously let’s be rational here and acknowledge how ridiculous this all sounds.
Why are Las Vegas, Ibiza and Cancun, the Mecca’s of binge drinking and crazy partying, not getting chastised like Sunny Beach is in this film? Oh yes, that’s right, they are not “one of the poorest countries in the EU” as the host diligently reminds us in her closing statement. This is something that she thinks “is worth bearing in mind” before eluding to the fact that Bulgaria will practically stop at nothing to make money (even if that means serving outrageously cheap drinks).
…Perhaps we should talk about discriminating Gypsies one last time to just make sure that we are all clear as to why tourists come to Sunny Beach? Or do we all have that one down pretty well by now and there aren’t any questions on the subject?!
P.S. Crave more? Our Resources on Bulgaria page is updated regularly & features lots of interesting & useful reads. Check it out!