Author Topic: "THE DEATH OF THE FERN"  (Read 15908 times)

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Online georgiapeach

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« on: April 18, 2011, 10:24:08 AM »

A "Fern", in original Amazing Race terminology, is someone who helps a racer find their way through their own hometown. It later became applied to anyone who helps a racer along the way.
The name is a homage to the original Fern, a young woman who played hooky from school all day to help Danny and Oswald (TAR 2, episode 5) navigate their way through Bangkok.

We have seen a lot of  "Ferns" through the past seasons of The Amazing Race. Good ferns and bad ferns, ferns who helped a team jump ahead, ferns who got racers hopelessly lost, ferns who just wanted a ride home from the airport, and ferns who ended up left behind miles from where they started. But "Ferns" there have always been.

Until now.

If you have been watching TAR 18 closely, you may have noticed a severe lack of "Ferns".  While we have certainly seen a lot of teams asking for directions, we really haven't seen any  "Can you show me the way?" moments, or locals leading a team to a destination, or any examples of locals  going with a team to find their way. On several occasions, racers have been heard to say instead "Can you point out the way?".

It seems possible to infer from this that there are some new rules in place for TAR 18.  No  more following a local on foot through the town. No more having a local lead the way in their car. No more locals piling into the taxis to direct the driver.  It does appear that racers may still ask for directions, and have someone point them in the right direction, but that is all. In essence, no more FERNS.

There  has always been a decision factor involved in asking for help from people during the race, as signing the releases may be time consuming.  But asking for and getting knowledgeable help from someone is a race skill just like map reading, navigation, finding a flight, or driving a stick shift. The ability to make a connection, person to person, and hopefully then receive help has been crucial to some teams' success in former seasons. Danny and Oswald were true masters  at this. But more importantly, some of the most memorable moments on the show have been when a bond between people is formed, and help is asked for and given. The fleeting moments where strangers become friends.

While I was very happy to see the latest rule prohibiting racers from paying a taxi to lead them around, the loss of Ferns saddens me. Even though this is a different world than it was when Season 1 was filmed, and safety is paramount, I still believe that the scenes of racers interacting with each other and locals remain at the heart of the show. And with so much of the personal contact between the racers themselves having been lost (Eating, Sleeping, Mingling and Elimination Station both seem to be things of the past), it would be tremendously sad to also lose the often humorous, sometimes silly, touching times where cultures meet, and friendships are born.

georgiapeach for RFF 4/17/11 all rights reserved
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Offline BayBay

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« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2011, 10:08:29 PM »
One of my favorite ferns was Romber's in Africa!

Offline ugot2bekidinmeny

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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2011, 02:58:51 PM »
Thanks Peach!! :hugs:
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Offline ruby2011

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« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2011, 02:50:28 PM »
My favorite fern is Jennifer :) Aniston.
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Offline Jobby

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« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2011, 06:48:08 AM »
it would be tremendously sad to also lose the often humorous, sometimes silly, touching times where cultures meet, and friendships are born.

This sums up the entire situation and what i'm feeling as well. The only time (i think) in Season 18 we got to see teams ask for direction was in the Austria leg where several teams asked for directions at the gas station. And that's about it.
"The Amazing Race shows the best and worst out of you. But if only negative things are shown, then it's probably you. - Jobby"