Saturday Night Live pokes fun at Hawaiian tourism: Some thoughts

Back when Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show poked fun at Butte, Montana because of the Berkeley Pit, the shut-down copper mine that’s almost filled to the brim with toxic water, and is a tourist site anyway, I felt bad. I love Butte, Montana and visit every summer. It was one of my budget travel options back in January. The Daily Show’s version of Butte did not do it justice.

Now Hawaii is in the fray of popular culture tomfoolery. Saturday Night Live poked fun at Hawaiian tourism last week with a skit of fake hula dancers in a restaurant filled with tourists. Within the skit, issues of authenticity, lack of a working wage by those working in the tourist industry, race and other issues that highlight the clash between those looking for a dream vacation and those hired to make the dream happen were mixed together.

Linda Lingle, the governor of Hawaii, is mad about the skit because she feels that it sheds an unfair light on an industry upon which Hawaii depends to a large degree. Because of the economy, Hawaiian tourism is suffering. Bad publicity could do more damage. I’m not too sure about that — particularly if Hawaii uses the skit as a stepping off point to show just how much Hawaii has to offer besides hula dancers. [Saturday Night video after the jump.]

Before I went to Hawaii several years ago, I had Tiki statues and big wooden fork and spoon wall hanging sets in mind. What I found is a lush, culturally rich, gorgeous place that I was enthralled by. We didn’t stay in Waikiki, but with relatives who live on the other side of Oahu. What the governor needs to do is point out how Hawaii is a fascinating state with a history unlike any other.

I’m always amazed when I find out that people went there without going to The Bishop Museum or the Mission Houses Museum or the palace. The role of Hawaii during World War II is also important. A trip to Pearl Harbor and the Punch Bowl shows that. As part of our trip, we went to the Big Island where at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park learned more about volcanoes and Hawaii’s geological make up. These are just a few places that highlight Hawaii’s uniqueness.

I think what the skit did is point out the dissonance between people who head to a place with an idea in their minds about what the location is about without considering the darker side. Any place that tries to bring in tourist dollars could do a similar skit. Saturday Night Live just happened to pick Hawaii. So what if paradise has a darker side? Isn’t that true about anything? It’s the ying and the yang.

On the other side of the dark side is the light which is the reason why Hawaii is such a great place to go on a vacation–just don’t stop at the hula skirts. Have fun with the schlock, notice the disparity, but get out of the places that are geared for the cliche and explore. See what else Hawaii has to offer. It’s plenty, and these days Hawaii is a terrific vacation value.

Admittedly, I think the Saturday Night Live skit is funny. I didn’t watch the episode, but I headed to You Tube as soon as I read about the controversy. The reason I think it’s funny is because I loved watching Dwayne Johnson hula dance. His legs and arm movements just cracked me up. Plus, he looked like he was having a great time.

In case you didn’t see it, here it is. The copy isn’t the best, but you’ll get the idea.

Photo of the Day (9.7.08)

Between the satellite dishes and the barren, otherworldly landscape in this photo, you could be forgiven for thinking it had been taken on the moon. It’s all the more amusing therefore, to find out that Flickr user konakoka, got this spacey shot on top of Mauna Kea, the dormant volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii.

The lack of light pollution and the high altitude make Mauna Kea a top spot for astronomy. The summit is littered with all manner of observatories and satellite dishes, as we see here in this photo. I like the way the focus of the image has been pushed to the very bottom, leaving an almost limitless blue sky to dominate.

Have you taken any great travel photos you’d like to share with our Gadling readers? Add them to our Gadling pool on Flickr and we might just use your image as our Photo of the Day.

Aloha Airlines to end passenger service Monday

Grant’s post about Aloha Airlines filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy wasn’t exactly the sound of a death knell, but since then, the airline has decided to call it quits on passenger service. After Monday, as in March 31, according to this AP article, there will be no more passenger reservations taken.

Those who have Aloha Airlines tickets already may be rerouted on United Airlines flights to the mainland or on Hawaiian Airlines if travel is between the islands. Those who don’t want those options, but who want their money back instead, can file in bankruptcy court. I don’t envy people who are left to sort out their travel plans on such short notice. Hopefully, they saw this coming. The Aloha Airlines Web site does have links to help passengers rebook.

The demise of the airline that has been around since 1946 is due to unfair competition and rising fuel costs the airline’s money folks say. I feel bad that Aloha Airlines hasn’t been able to continue. The first time I went to Hawaii, I flew Aloha Airlines from Oahu to The Big Island on a package deal. It was much cheaper than I had imagined it would be. The rental car and two nights in a hotel was included. The best thing about arranging for the trip was that we were able to set it up after we were already visiting my relatives on Oahu. For people who travel within Hawaii, I bet they are bummed.

The shipping function of Aloha Airlines is being taken over by a Seattle-based company. Maybe people could package themselves up as a way to get off the island with their unused tickets? In case you’re one of the one affected, here’s a link with questions and answers.

Ferries for Hawaiian Island Hopping

Years ago when I went to Hawaii to visit a great-aunt and uncle who lived in Kailua on O’ahu, my uncle arranged for a three day trip to the Big Island. The package deal included airfare, a rental car and a motel room. This was a low-budget, low-keyed jaunt and a high point of our vacation. (I’ve been thinking about Brook’s musings about the difference between travel and vacations. We landed in Hawaii after spending a week in Taiwan and a week in Japan. That felt like travel. For some reason, Hawaii felt like a vacation. I’m still musing myself about the difference.)

Anyway, when we went to the Big Island, we flew. To get to the Big Island flying is the way to go. However, according to this USA Today article, ferries are to start operating between O’ahu and Maui and Kaua’i. These will be the high-speed type that can also take cars. Eventually, there will be one to the Big Island, but that one isn’t due to open for a couple years. On the Hawaii Superferry Web site you can make reservations. The first departure is slated for August 28.

Although these inter-island ferries sound like a good idea, all is not well with this transportation venture. The humpback whales are a concern since the ferries may interrupt their migration. Also, if people can bring their cars with them, what will this do to tourism? That’s my thought. Will more cars choke up the roads? Or maybe this will be a tourist boost. Still, people do need some way to get from here to there unless we are all willing to stay home.