Friday, February 20, 2009

The "Man" in Man vs. Wild 

What would you do if you were stranded alone in the middle of the Sonoran Desert with nothing but your shirt on, a broken down dirt bike, and an army knife? Well, Survivorman would be able to tell you how to make a shelter and get food in this specific situation. However, how likely is it that you or I would personally be in this exact instance with a knife and the parts of a motorcycle? I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t usually take joy rides in the middle of a desert by myself. Survivorman tells you how to survive, but that’s it. 

On the other hand, Bear Grylls in Man vs. Wild does it to the max. He not only shows you the basic life skills, what to eat and what not to eat, but he demonstrates how to get out of quicksand, fight off poisonous snakes, and drink the fluid of elephant feces. Sure these things are not necessary, and you nor I would mostly likely need to know how to do these in our lives, but this is television—people don’t want to simply learn the basic life skills one would use to build a cover for the night: they want to be entertained.

Les Stroud, by all means, transports all his gear and films the show by himself, which is extremely difficult, but the show does not really appeal to the pop culture of today. People want to see action. They want to see blood. They want to see death. Well ok, maybe Bear Grylls doesn’t show the death part of it, but he has had hypothermia in one of his episodes and demonstrated how to get out of it. This guy is hardcore.

There are many controversies bouncing around the Internet today about how this guy is fake. I’m sorry to have to inform you, but Man vs. Wild isn’t really his life: he hasn’t actually been in these situations. Critics condemn the fact that his crew sporadically helps him out. A real situation, more often that not, includes at least two people (no one truly wanders around these exotic places by themselves; that would be very silly). Bear Grylls has stated on multiple occasions that they have aided him on certain occasions; he’s not trying to take all the credit. In the episode in he African Savanna, for example, Grylls declares to the cameras that he in fact does not wind up in a pool of quicksand but he does it for the sake of doing it, for the sake of entertainment.

            Bear Grylls shouldn’t be condemned for what he does. He isn’t trying to be like Survivorman: that’s why there are two distinct shows. If you know you will be stranded in a particular situation later on in life and would like to learn the basic life skills on how to survive, then Survivorman is the perfect show for you to watch. As for right now, however, entertainment is what most people want to watch on TV and Bear Grylls entirely fulfills this. He is, in my opinion the “Man.”


Aurélia Heitz

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