Friday, August 31, 2007


If you keep up with Discovery Channel's Man vs Wild, this is likely old news to you. Katy and I started watching the show a couple months ago, and by now have just about seen every episode (thanks to DVR and a couple of Man vs Wild marathons).

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, a man is dropped off in a remote location of the world and is charged with the task of surviving until he can find civilization. Said man is Bear Grylls--a British climber, adventurer, survivalist, and regular stud. He's been lost in the Everglades, stranded in the freezing French Alps, trapped in the Costa Rican rain forest, and left for dead in the African Savanna. For the sake of survival (and sheer thrill of entertainment) Bear has eaten meat right from a fallen zebra's bones and cooked raven eggs on the scorching desert rock. He has killed fish with a hand-made bow and arrow, and he has caught wild rabbits with his shoelace. The man once lifted a steaming pile of elephant dung over his head, only to squeeze every drop of fluid into his thirsty mouth. Priceless.

For the sake of yours and my education, Bear intentionally places himself in unfortunate circumstances to show us how to escape. He has submerged himself in quicksand and jumped through an iced-over lake. We should all be grateful for his sacrifice.

Most importantly, Bear is an outspoken Christian and dedicated family man. That is why it is most disappointing that his show has in a couple instances deceived the viewing audience. Some reports came out this summer that Bear was given assistance by the production crew (who were supposedly instructed not to aid Bear's mission unless it were a life-or-death matter). More specifically, he has spent a couple nights snoozing in a motel, when the viewer believes he is shivering in an ice cave.

And in full disclosure (though it pains me to do this), here is a video clip showing that his stunts are not always so spectacular and his location is not always so remote.

My argument against that 2nd link is that I don't expect Bear to actually need 3 or 4 days to find civilization. If he really needed to, Bear could get out of trouble in 10 minutes flat. But in order to get a full hour's worth of programming, I expect that Bear is going to avoid "finding" civilization for a few days just so he can show the audience how you would survive if you were in fact lost. I am certain that in every episode Bear knows exactly where he is, but because the lost tourist might not, he shows you how to survive. The show is quite explicit in it's educational purpose.

In closing, I want to say that I am still a major fan of Bear and Man vs Wild. While I am disappointed that Bear has cheated us on a couple of nights, I am still very much impressed with what he has accomplished on the show. On his blog, Bear says that the reports attacking the show are not detailing the whole truth. He also assures us that Man vs Wild will be much more forthright about what is "real" and what is entertainment.


Marty Cooper said...

I'm not a fan of the show, which isn't a shock. I watched it with Kurt one night when he ate a sheep's eyeball. ugh. I mean, who in his right mind would VOLUNTARILY drink his own urine??? sicko.

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