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Survival Reality Shows: Entertainment or Education?

September 22nd, 2010

survivor-islands.jpgTelevision offers many different survival type reality programs. They claim that by watching the star of the show endure hardships and challenges, viewers can learn how to survive in the wilderness with few resources. These lessons are certainly entertaining, and most of the advice they offer is good. However, the average viewer should never attempt some of the techniques that are taught.

On a recent episode of Man Woman Wild, Mykel Hawke showed his wife, Ruth England, how to boil water using a stone that had been heated in their campfire. The water dish that they used had been fashioned from a large piece of sea kelp. In another episode, Ruth learned to start a fire using a battery and steel wool. These are useful tips that the average person could use in a real life survival situation.

Cody Lundin and Dave Canterbury, stars of Dual Survival, have shown viewers how to help rescuers find them by leaving clues. They have also demonstrated techniques for capturing food and purifying water. Knowing these skills can be the difference between life and death.

Les “Survivor Man” Stroud has offered many different ways of creating shelter from tree branches and vines. He has shown viewers how to find edible plants and insects. He also gives viewers insight to the emotions experienced while stranded alone in the wilderness.

No one has ever gone on a hike planning to get lost. Kayakers don’t expect to see their vessel float down the river, leaving them stranded miles from the nearest town. Nevertheless, these things do happen to hundreds of people every year. Knowing how to start a fire with no matches and how to make water safe to drink are valuable lessons that anyone can all learn from these survival shows.

Do these programs sometimes go too far for the sake of entertainment? The star of Man vs. Wild, Bear Grylls, seems to take a lot of risks in the name of survival. In one episode, Bear used sticks to climb down a well that was fifty feet deep. He made it to the bottom only to find that it was empty. He also had to be rescued from the well by his cameraman when his stick ladder broke. This situation must have been presented for the entertainment value and not practicality. After all, what is the point of getting to water in a deep well if you end up stuck inside the well? A person alone in the wilderness should never try something like this. Likewise, they should never go into a deep cave like Bear did in another episode. These actions would only make the situation worse. Rescuers have a hard enough time. No one should make it harder for them by ending up in a situation where they would be even harder to find.

Of all the survival personalities, Bear Grylls is the most dramatic. He will scale rock facings with only the tiniest finger holds. He has used jungle vines to descend seventy-five feet down a cliff. He has also used slippery rocks to get to the top of waterfalls. Though these techniques add excitement to the show, for the average person the risk of injury is far too great. Bear has even been injured a few times while filming Man vs. Wild. Most people are better off finding a different route, even if it takes several hours. An injury in the wilderness can leave you completely helpless, diminishing the chance of rescue. It is irresponsible for this show to depict these actions as a good method of survival.

All of these programs: Man vs. Wild, Survivorman, Dual Survival, and Man Woman Wild offer helpful life-saving advice. If you ever find yourself stranded in the wilderness, take these lessons with a grain of salt. Use your own logic and instinct to determine which techniques to use. Most are essential to getting home alive, but some of them are better left to the experts.


This article was supplied by M.A. Gallant from Constant Content.


One Response to “Survival Reality Shows: Entertainment or Education?”

  1. comment number 1 by: Ireland5

    Title: Survival Reality Shows: Entertainment or Education?

    Answer: Neither

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