I’m not sure how many of you watch the Discovery Channel. Maybe you haven’t since you were young. Well, let me tell you that a lot has changed. They started airing shows that people actually watch–reality TV where stuff explodes or people eat dead animal carcasses and drink pee. My favorite is Man vs. Wild. It’s a show where a former SAS guy gets purposefully lost in places where people die and shows how to stay alive in those places long enough to find a way out. I sat and watched a marathon until I could hardly keep my eyes open. I forced myself to watch because I knew I would regret having not seen the end. I mean, this show is cool.
But apparently, there has been some scandal about how authentic the show is. The show’s star, Bear Grylls, is accused of having stayed nights in a hotel instead of roughing it out in the wild. On one episode, he built a raft to get off an island, but only after it was made by professionals.
Sure, it is somewhat misleading that veiwers think that Bear is getting no help when he actually is. I can see that and it’s a problem. Really, the problem is that the show was presented as a reality show when it is really how-to-survive show with an emphasis on entertainment. Bear typically is dropped off in the middle of nowhere and travels until he finds some kind of civilization. If he came accross a hotel during the first day of filming, he would have technically accomplished his goal, but the episode would be about five minutes long. He would have reached civilization but had not taught much about survival. In true Bear style, he would keep going even though he didn’t have to. So who cares that he stayed the night then kept going in the morning?
Bear is accused of also staying in a hotel on a hawaiian island that was supposed to be deserted. While the location is sort of mundane and a bit misleading, the concept of how to survive off indiginous plants is the same. Bear said that he could live on the island indefinitly if he never tried to leave. Does it really make a difference where he slept if his survival was assured anyway? The important part is where he cuts to the chase and rafts out of there.
About his ability to construct a raft, I really don’t care that Bear doesn’t know anything and everything about every climate, flora, fauna, survival story, or construction technique that he shows or tells on the show. Nobody could possibly know all that. Who cares if he has teams of researchers looking up facts and tips about survival that the average person doesn’t know. I believe desert island raft construction falls into that category. Even if he had the thing engineered before he touched it, lets not forget that he actually had the balls to get on it and venture out into open water. He was followed for days by man eating sharks in blistering sun with little water. That’s gotta count for something.
My real point in writing about this is that even if these accusations are completely true, it doesn’t make the man a fraud. He actually did eat a dead sheep’s eyeball in a frozen tundra, drank pee in the ultra-humid outback of Australia, swam a frozen bay when his tattered canoe took water in Alaska, and slimed his way out quicksand in at least a few episodes. He does a lot of things that he probably doesn’t have to in order to give survival tips that somebody might need. I would like to reiterate that this is a how-to show and not a hey-let’s-see-if-I-can-live-through-this show.
I think that this show can and should be salvaged if the Discovery Channel puts a little disclaimer in front that says: “What you are about to see is real. Bear Grylls puts himself in survival situations that could happen to anybody, but might not happen to everybody. Bear combines survival tips from experts to give the viewer the most accurate, in depth information available. Bear receives no assistance except in the case of danger to life or limb or if the situation has no value for survival training.”
That would about cover it. That’s why my world wouldn’t be crushed if I found out Bear spent a night or two in a Motel 6. Having a warm bed for a few hours does not change the fact that he has been eating bugs and drinking water from a murky canyon pond.