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For the record I did not watch the great Michael Phelps race the fake Great White. Many did – and were not happy about the spectacle.

Remember back in December 2014, when Discovery Channel hyped that a man would be eaten and then regurgitated by a giant snake on a special called “Eaten Alive?” Then that didn’t actually happen, and viewers were furious?

We bring this up because 57 minutes into Discovery’s heavily promoted Sunday night Shark Week program — in which Olympic powerhouse swimmer Michael Phelps was set to race against a great white shark — viewers heard this quote from ecologist Tristan Gutteridge, one the featured scientists:

“Clearly, we can’t put Michael in one lane and a white shark on the far lane. We’re gonna have to do a simulation.”

Hold on. So Phelps wasn’t going to actually race a shark in a TV event titled “Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White”?! Why was the hour-long special billed as such?

While common sense probably could have saved any disappointment — along with preshow interviews where Phelps assured everyone that he wouldn’t really race next to a shark in open water — many viewers were not pleased.


Yeah, it’s television, it’s all bullshark. Twitter/WP.

I did not watch, and was not disappointed, for two reasons: 1) I don’t waste time on TeeVee, and; 2) I didn’t care. When I first heard of the possibility of Phelps racing a real shark, my initial thought was, “I hope they find a shark named ‘Darwin’.”

Seems Phelps and the producers aren’t entirely stupid. Some viewers are.

I think they could have put in a real shark with a high degree of safety and a very high degree of cost. A net or plexiglass barrier would have sufficed. Such would have been too expensive, costing far more than some creative 1s and 0s in a computer.

You get what you pay for. Or what you watch.

With a very few exceptions television has been intellectually dead for decades. Anyone who spends time staring at Plato’s electronic cave wall deserves to be disappointed. And they almost uniformly are.

Batman, Fonzie, and Phelps. Who’s next?



And Phelps lost…