Bloodthirsty ‘Factual’ TV Shows Demonize Wildlife

729px-Just_one_lionAdam Welz writes at the Guardian:

If you’re North American or get US-produced satellite TV, you’ve probably learned a lot about wildlife from outlets like the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and History. You might trust these channels because you’ve seen educational, factually accurate shows on them, unlike the ‘trashy’ material that dominates free-to-air network TV.

But not everything on on these ‘factual’ channels might be as ethical or even as accurate as you might think, and the implications for conservation could be profound.

I recently spent a few entertaining hours watching episodes of Discovery’s Yukon Men, a hit ‘reality’ series about the residents of the small town of Tanana in central Alaska. Launched in August last year, it’s consistently gained over two million US viewers in its Friday night slot, been syndicated overseas, and helped the channel win some of its biggest audiences ever.

The first episode brings us to midwinter Tanana, which a theatrical, husky male voiceover tells us is “one of America’s most remote outposts” where “every day is a struggle to survive”. A dramatic, orchestral score pounds as we see a lynx struggling in a leghold trap, guns firing, a man attacking a squealing wolverine with a tree trunk, a wolf which a voice tells us “might eat one of those kids”, a hand lifting up the head of a bloodied, dead wolf to show us its teeth, and then a gloved hand dripping blood while the voiceover rumbles that in Alaska, it’s “hunt or starve, kill or be killed”.

That’s all in the first minute.

In the second minute the voiceover tells us that “the town is under siege by hungry predators”. We see wolves eating a bloody carcass, a growling bear, men with guns shouting bleeped-out words, then a coffin. Another voice says that “there’s always somebody that’s not going to make it home”.

We’re soon told that Tanana’s water pipes are freezing up “but that’s not the only crisis. Wolves have been spotted on the edge of town.” Charlie, a hunter, shows us the tracks of “a lone wolf”. “Wolves are mean, ferocious animals and they can tear a man apart real easy” he says, so “we have to get this wolf, it’s not an if, its a must, because he’ll go to any measure to eat. They’re the worst kind.”

We then meet Courtney, a local mother, who’s scared that the wolf could eat her young daughter. Charlie agrees, “if we turned our backs for a couple of minutes, that baby would be gone.”

“There have been twenty fatal wolf attacks in the last ten years”, the voiceover intones.

Charlie kills the wolf in the next episode, pursuing it on a snowmobile and shooting it outside town with an AR-15, the same semi-automatic assault rifle used by the Sandy Hook school shooter. “The only good thing about a wolf is the quality of their nice fur”, says Charlie, holding up the blood-smeared pelt. Courtney agrees: “Dirty little rotten bastard.”

Sounds like the humans are the mean, ferocious ones.  Read more here.

11 Comments on "Bloodthirsty ‘Factual’ TV Shows Demonize Wildlife"

  1. PertAndPopular | Jun 22, 2013 at 11:43 am |

    Lol! Written by someone who has never been to Alaska I’m guessing. “The same gun used by the sandy hook shooter and the same gun the roman’s used to nail Jesus to the cross!”

  2. I have spent a lot of time in Tanana and know some of the characters in this show. It is painfully overdramatic and absurdly sensational. Tanana is accessible by commercial flights multiple times a week during the entire year – it is not some remote outpost where life and death are in constant struggle. Wolves have never attacked anyone there (and have very rarely attacked anyone, anywhere, ever). Everything about this show and its success is a disgrace – it’s completely full of shit.

    • Ted Heistman | Jun 23, 2013 at 10:37 am |

      Yeah, but often people that like to shoot wolves every time they see them, like to justify it in some way. I have encountered that quite a bit.

      • ZigZagWanderer | Jun 23, 2013 at 2:15 pm |

        That’s true… but the people in Tanana for the most part aren’t like that.

        • Ted Heistman | Jun 23, 2013 at 6:35 pm |

          Well, I know of an old dog musher there that seems like a nice guy. Forget his name been racing the iditarod for years.

  3. Anarchy Pony | Jun 22, 2013 at 12:07 pm |

    Discovery and those channels have all been airing earth raping bullshit over the last several years, that backyard oil crap and those shows about gold mining and all those sort of man vs. nature type shows. Methinks they’ve been getting checks from The Heritage Foundation and Americans for Prosperity and their ilk.

  4. InfvoCuernos | Jun 22, 2013 at 1:24 pm |

    I tend to agree with the author’s sentiment, and also I hate the alligator hunting show, which is just a 30 min. show about shooting trapped alligators(now in its 2nd season! how many times can someone just watch an alligator getting shot?), but he is mistaken about the AR-15 being used in the Sandy Hook shooting.

    • Apathesis | Jun 22, 2013 at 4:48 pm |

      So what was used in the shooting? The shotgun was found in the trunk and the pistols were found on or near his body…

      Furthermore, why the fuck was there even a connection made to Sandy Hook in this article? It’s completely irrelevant.

      No one watches Swamp People for the alligators. It’s all about laughing at those idiots that need subtitles to be understood.

      It’s sad to see what has become of Discovery, the History Channel and A&E. Pure crapola these days.

  5. Ted Heistman | Jun 22, 2013 at 5:29 pm |

    Well, its an accurate representation of peoples views in Bush Alaska. In Alaska there are a lot of hippies around Juneau, Anchorage is kind of Ghetto, with Crack dealers doing drive by’s and then the Bush is a lot of, well, gun happy red necks, plus drunk natives. I mean its really sad but true, a lot of severe alcoholics(both white and Native) with guns, and the last seven vehicles they owned in their front yard rusting away next big piles of other junk, beautiful mountains in the background.

    Sooner or later the cat had to get out of the bag of what Alaska is really like. I mean don’t get me wrong a lot of great people too but also a lot of people that shoot everything they see, whites and natives both, shoot the shit out of everything.

  6. BuzzCoastin | Jun 22, 2013 at 6:57 pm |

    the most dangerous beast escaped unnoticed
    and unaccounted for
    the TV
    which devoured everyone on the show
    and everyone watching

  7. ZigZagWanderer | Jun 22, 2013 at 10:10 pm |

    I’ve spent a lot of time in Tanana and can say with full confidence that this show is 100% full of shit. Tanana is accessible by commercial flight on multiple airlines multiple times a week – it’s not some remote outpost where life and death are a constant struggle. Wolves have almost never attacked anyone, anywhere, nevermind in Tanana where the ratio of sled dogs to people causes wolves to keep their distance from the village. This is overly dramatic, sensationalist garbage. A joke of a show and an insult to Alaska and village life.

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