Discovery Channel, we need to talk.
There’s nothing as tragic as seeing an old friend destroy their life, putting trash in their body, a ruined shell of their former self filled with nothing but wasted junk. They chase a drug that they don’t want to get a buzz they’ll never get again. For one old friend, that high is ratings, the drug is Shark Week, and the part of Lindsay Lohan is played by the Discovery Channel.
Since 1987, Discovery has been bringing sharks into our living rooms for one week a year. Exploring their incredible biology, misunderstood behavior, and terrifying image through a scientific camera lens. Well, they have thrown that mission away. It’s official. With this year’s fake-but-disguised-as-real mockumentary about the definitely-extinct Megalodon shark, they have officially jumped their own programming.
Last night, to kick off Shark Week, Discovery aired a program full of supposed home video footage that allegedly captured an enormous, never-seen shark. Could it be the terrifying prehistoric Megalodon, haunting the deep this whole time, right under our noses?
No, of course not. That thing’s extinct as extinct can be. Failing to make that clear to your audience, and interviewing actors as scientists is as bad as Animal Planet’s Mermaids fiasco. Discovery Channel now stands solely for entertainment, not science. So it goes, I guess.
We’ve lost science in our newspapers, on our radios, even in a good number of our schools. Discovery was founded to use the creative freedom of cable television to bring science to the airwaves. Now they have thrown it away, with a fantasy story presented as reality, lying to viewers for the sake of ad dollars.
Here’s some collected reactions:
"Oh, don’t worry about it," you might say. “They’re just trying to make something entertaining, who cares?" you may think. This is a big deal. This means that dozens of people, when designing their flagship programming week, made a deliberate choice to present a lie as truth, because they don’t think you are smart enough to be entertained by the truth.
Tell Discovery what you think by visiting their Facebook page and Twitter page. Do not give them another dollar/minute of your TV time until they apologize, and even then think twice because you know how addictions go. It’s time to tell them that you deserve better.
Want real, truthful, respectful shark science this week? I suggest checking out NatGeo Wild’s SharkFest programming (made with real science!) and my friend and marine scientist David Shiffman’s sharktastic Twitter feed.
Discovery Channel … this is an intervention. We’re here as friends, we’re concerned that you’re going to do damage to yourself that you can’t undo, and we want our old channel back. Stop insulting the intelligence of the audience you claim to serve, and get your shit together. If you chum the water with crap, this is what swims to the surface.
Do you agree to check into scientific rehab today?