Thursday, July 29, 2010

Discovery Shark Week - same old same old!


Well, I guess the cat is out of the bag.

I just had a look at this year's Shark Week lineup and nothing has changed.
Underwater Thrills and Oceanic Dreams are uncharacteristically mellow. Like me, they're probably tired of wasting time on the subject, as despite of hopeful signs like the management re-shuffle, etc, Discovery appears hell-bent on once again focusing on attacks and thus, reducing the animals to dangerous man-hunting monsters.

As to whether this may be educational?
What education???
What can anybody possibly learn from this rubbish?

Oh well, as I said, I'm tired of this shit.
Cris Palmer and Peter Kimball over at the Huffington Post basically say it all. Great post and kudos for having brought this to the mainstream media.
Excerpts below, links and italics are mine, not theirs.

"Teeth of death," "Shark feeding frenzy," "The Worst Shark Attack Ever." It is that time of year again, when the Discovery Channel brings out shows like these as part of its annual "Shark Week" programming. This week of bloody feeding frenzies and vicious shark attacks is part of a larger trend in nature programming. Instead of seeking to educate or to promote environmental conservation, these shows focus only on presenting graphic, sensationalized animal violence.
Programs like those in Shark Week
-- while they might garner high ratings and attract advertiser dollars -- all too often mislead the audience, exploit animals, and fail to promote conservation.

We applaud Discovery Channel's partnership with Senator John Kerry to help end shark finning, but the general effect of the graphic Shark Week programming is not to promote conservation but to instill fear, terror, and hatred in the viewer.

Networks, studios, and filmmakers need to improve the quality of their work and invest in nature shows that encourage conservation and entertain without misleading.
However, viewers must also take responsibility for the programs they watch. We cannot expect to see more ethical, responsible filmmaking as long as we continue to support those shows that sensationalize and exploit animals.


7 comments:

RTSea said...

Commissions for Shark Week programs take place basically in November. Discovery CEO John and his staff and supporters departed from Discovery in December (and not, as much as some would like to think, because of last year's Shark Week programming). So this year's Shark Week slate was already in the works.

If new management wants to see a change in programming, it will most likely show up in 2011. But who knows, the current formula that rankles so many shark advocates is a very successful one for Discovery financially - and they are a business, first and foremost.

Many shark advocates have thrown in the towel regarding Shark Week. But I've said it many times: if you have the energy and determination to alter Discovery's course, then focus on the business model, which is ratings and advertising. Letters and petitions to the network are ineffectual. Impact the ratings or the advertisers - that's where the money is.

With over 30 million viewers, that's not easy, but that's how you get the attention of any network.

DaShark said...

As always Richard, excellent thoughts.

We were actually contacted about two programs that according to the concerned production houses eventually fizzled out because of the management re-shuffle. Both would have been highly entertaining, fun and respectful of the animals.

I'm not holding my breath about being able to enact reforms.
Yes one could try and go after the network in the manner you describe but as you correctly point out, it would be difficult.

To me, the better strategy is to hold the enablers accountable.
As I said many times before, if we the shark diving industry refuse to collaborate, the shooters got nowhere to go. We got the sites, animals and know how, and finding alternatives to using our infrastructure would be financially prohibitive.

Keep watching this space as the programs air!

OfficetoOcean said...

It is again a case of the consumers wanting what they are given, not getting what they want.

Gory reconstructions of shark attacks are de rigeur, they have been now for over two decades, until broadcasters take the responsible approach of focussing on the real story about sharks, with intelligence, grace and in a way the message can reach a widespread audience, then we will continue to be subjected to programming which perpetuates the myths about sharks.

As usual, I am in full agreement with both of you. Change only happens when people have the courage and belief to overcome the obstacles they face on the way. Let's hope there are people out there willing to support that change in the ways both RTSea and B.A.D do...

Anonymous said...

People are tired of being "educated", They just want to to be entertained. I can't tell you how many times I've watched a nature show and found it very interesting only to have the music take a serious tone with a warning about the effects of man on the enviroment. Talk about a downer, people don't want to hear that shit. They have enough to worry about these days.

When I was in highschool 20 years ago we were told the South American rainforest would be gone within 7 years. Guess what it's still there. We were also told the Ozone layer would be gone in 10 years. Guess what, it's still there. Newyork and Miami were supposed to be underwater what the hell happend with that?
We just want to be entertained not "educated" that's why we the viewers who pay the bills wantch TV.
Now go eat your vegan crap and STFU.

DaShark said...

Good point anonymous, could not agree more!

People are sick and tired of the same old tired doomsday scenarios, the pathos and the lecturing.

You may want to read http://fijisharkdiving.blogspot.com/2010/10/shark-media-love-not-loss.html.

The problem with Shark Week is that it continues to focus on Shark attacks and that it demonizes the animals in the process.

We don't anymore do that with the terrestrial predators and the hope is that one day, we will see equally entertaining programs that will depict Sharks in the same way: as fascinating, cool and yes, totally badass rulers of their habitat.

The BBC and Nat Geo already do that and nobody seems to complain, so I remain hopeful.

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