It’s shark week. It’s that time of the year where your television strikes terror into your heart, splashing images of awesomeness all over your face, flickering in the light of the screen.
I don’t care what anyone says: Shark Week is awesome. It’s hilarious. As long as you realize that, no, it’s not for education. It’s for enjoyment. It’s not for raising awareness about sharks or anything like that. It’s for ratings. It’s for yelling, “HOLY SHIT, MARTHA, DID YOU SEE THAT BIG ASS SHARK EAT THAT SEAL!?”
Then Martha sighs and thinks you’re an idiot for enjoying this, but she’s secretly watching over her copy of O Magazine. She doesn’t actually care about how to turn her garden into a zucchini machine. She wants to see that big ass shark smash that seal 40 feet into the air with a mouth full of knives and those dead black eyes. Everyone does.
I do have one problem with it, however. A lot of people feed into the fear-mongering too easily. Shark Week, in all its awesomeness, doesn’t exactly paint a fair picture of these beautiful, terrifying creatures that inhabit our playground. As surfers, it’s something that’s in the back of a lot of our minds. It bangs around back there, slightly muffled, but still there. When I see a dolphin, I know it’s a dolphin. But I still have one brief moment of heart-stopping terror. “Holy shit, Martha, did you see that big ass shark eat that Alex!?” I would like to avoid that.
For this year’s first episode, Discovery aired Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives (AWESOME). Now, to be clear, I’m no paleontologist, but I’m pretty sure that I learned in grade school that the Monster Shark does not, in fact, live. But shit, they sure did get the ratings. With an estimated 4.8 million terrified viewers, that episode had the largest audience of any show in the entire 26 years that Shark Week has been on. That’s not just Shark Week shows. That’s ANY show Discovery has ever aired. And like I said, I’m all for entertainment. The people over at Discovery have realized that education isn’t getting as many views as entertainment, and they’re cashing in on it. They have bills to pay, after all. Almost everyone in media is guilty of it. Just yesterday, we published something about Anastasia Ashley’s twerking or tweaking or whatever it’s called. Generally speaking, jiggling butts and pouring blood get people’s mouse fingers twitching.
You wouldn’t read The Onion to get your news, right? You read it for entertainment. So during this week of awesomeness that calls itself Shark Week, don’t forget that it’s not exactly real. Sharks aren’t ALWAYS leaping into the air with mouths big enough to swallow a bus. They’re not ALWAYS smashing into metal cages with stupid people in them. I mean, yeah, sometimes they are, but sometimes they’re just swimming around placidly, bumping into stuff and cracking jokes with the other sharks about the stupid guy in the cage last week.