Animal Planet’s downward plunge – more mermaids

For some incredibly ridiculous reason*, Discovery Network’s Animal Planet continues to push the idea that mermaid can be real. More spectacularly anti-intellectual, mystery mongering and outright FAKE footage coming your way this weekend with a mini Monster-themed programming schedule.

*ad revenue

BusinessMirror – Animal Planet’s ‘Monster Week’ creeps back.

ANIMAL Planet presents Monster Week, a two-hour programming special every night beginning on September 8 at 9 p.m., featuring stories about some of the world’s most legendary and mysterious creatures.

From the depths of the sea to some of the most remote areas of the world, Monster Week uncovers the most enigmatic creatures to ever live and even takes on some of mythical origins. Elusive giant squids, great white sharks, man-devouring crocodiles, snakes and prehistoric fish still inhabit the Earth. But what about legendary cryptids like mermaids, Bigfoot and blood-sucking chupacabras?

Great. More hyped crap.

  • Do mermaids exist? No, but they have more faked footage they are called “raw footage” as evidence.
  • Do man-eating monsters exists? Yes and no. But AP is going to freak you the hell out about them and make you fear for your life.
  • Does Bigfoot exist? Gosh, they been looking for five seasons for the damned thing. I suspect they are making too much noise with the camera equipment. And don’t believe their “facts” if they can’t even catch one.
  • Is there a blood-sucking chupacabra? Yes, as a 90s legend. What they are going to show you instead are sickly, mangey canids and make them out to be more mysterious than they actually are.

I don’t watch Animal Planet. It’s not about real animals half the time. It’s fakery. How insulting to people who actually like this planet and the real animals who are on it. I’m even going to label this “antiscience” because the image of science they are promoting is absurd.

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  17 comments for “Animal Planet’s downward plunge – more mermaids

  1. Chris Howard
    August 31, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    And the craziest part of all is that all TDC and TLC had to do was label these types of fare as entertainment. They could have continued to produce the other factual and educational content right along side.

    Sadly, none of this will change as long as producers are fixated with advertising revenue, based upon ratings.

  2. August 31, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    Where do I start? Maybe with a petition-online or change-dot-org petition to “Truth And Honesty on Cable Television: Rename Animal Planet to Cryptid Planet.”

    Hmm, maybe I should try something that has a better chance of succeeding:

    1. Pitch an episode on Cupachabras to Animal Planet.
    2. …
    3. Profit!

    And a Discover Channel show on the Skeptical Movement featuring carefully-edited excerpts from, among other things, Virtual Skeptics episodes:
    “See skeptics, doubters, unbelievers and boo-birds, both caged and in their natural habitats! But hatever you do, Don’t Take Them Seriously!”

    Ben, TV Producer Extraordinaire.

  3. Brian
    August 31, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    Why do I get the feeling the creationists, with their agenda, might be behind this….

  4. Nos482
    August 31, 2013 at 10:17 PM

    There are no mermaids anymore, the Deep Ones ate them all.

  5. August 31, 2013 at 10:51 PM

    Animal Planet should just merge with SyFy and get it over with. It used to be a pretty interesting show…

  6. Chris Howard
    September 1, 2013 at 1:35 AM

    I really miss “Is It Real?” That series actually got good ratings, and it was skeptic friendly.

    It’s not that it can’t be done, its that there is no will to do it.

    Seriously, a Blackmagic rig with Nikkor prime pack, Final Cut, Logic, Tascam digital recorder with a Seinhowser mic kit, and an Arri combo light kit. VOD via distribber.

    The skeptic community has enough above, and below the line talent.

  7. Graham
    September 1, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Monster Week 2013: The year we make contact with Mermaids…?

  8. spookyparadigm
    September 1, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    Chris, it isn’t an issue of no one will do it.

    It’s that no one will show it. Mythbusters is the CLOSEST tv can get to skepticism, and that needs tons of pop culture tie-ins and ending every segment with an explosion whether relevant or not (I like the idea of Mythbusters, and I like some of what they do, but I can’t watch it for more than a few minutes for the same reason I can’t watch cable “learning” television generally: tons of repetitive padding that may be partly necessary for the format, but is also clearly a cost-saving exercise).

    Is it Real? had about a season and a half, which probably makes it the most successful skeptically-oriented tv show in a long time. And I don’t know its ratings, but NatGeo clearly didn’t think it was worth keeping around. So you have to ask why:

    – was it really getting good ratings?

    – Even if it was, could it hurt other stuff on the network? Putting a skeptic show smack dab in a bunch of woo, or putting a woo show in a bunch of non-woo (ala Megaladon), can be damaging to the larger programming block even if it does well. The most famous example I can think of this was Phil Donahue’s show on MSNBC. It was their highest rated show in 2002, but it was cancelled specifically because of his anti-invasion of Iraq stance, which angered Chris Matthews and more generally went against both the larger programming at the network, and of course corporate sponsors (GE owned MSNBC, and GE is a major defense contractor).

    – Which brings up another issue, that these shows aren’t made by the channel usually, but are purchased from independent production companies. While the channel may order up a kind of show or a concept, it isn’t very centralized. And there are a hell of a lot more companies able and engaged in making woo shows than science shows. And the obvious reason is that it is easier. All you need to do is find some people (and it seems, the more yokel they are, the better) willing to traipse around in the dark in nightvision gear pretending to be scared, and the rest is just editing with a few travelogue scenes thrown in. To do a science show is going to need a lot more rigor, more experts, more time, and more money. Simply put, why would a network show a more expensive show based on science, when woo-based shows have a proven track record, and are dirt cheap?

    The answer for those who wish to scientifically engage with woo in some documentary form is obvious: You can’t do that on television. It won’t work in the cable-driven race-for-the-bottom that television has been for some time.

    The solution is equally obvious: Youtube. Any institution interested in educating the public, be it science enthusiast skeptic groups, or more formal professional organizations, should respond to the awfulness of TV by creating their own video material and posting it online. TV is a lost cause.

  9. Nos482
    September 1, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    You forgot to mention Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, which ran for 8 seasons and was actually quite fun to watch.

  10. Chris Howard
    September 1, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    @Spooky.

    That’s why I suggested VOD (Video On Demand) via Distribber. It goes directly on Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, etc. no distribution company necessary.
    This scheme side steps the ratings problem, and cable TV. (VOD is actually taking market share from broadcast, and cable TV.)

    The advantage over YouTube is that the content doesn’t get lost in the mediocre sea of “grey-goo” that permeates YouTube, thus causing an actual decrease in viewership. (A million things to watch and nine hundred ninety nine thousand programs are sub par, at best. So why bother?)

    The equipment costs, if bought outright, is approximately 50k. Renting is an other option, which can be written off at the end of the year, usually for more on the companies return. More so if the organization is filed as a 501c3.

    The talent, equipment, and market is there. I suspect that the capital is available as well.

    We can make excuses, or we can make progress. So for me the question is still a matter of will.

  11. Chris
    September 1, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Today’s Foxtrot seems appropriate:
    http://www.foxtrot.com/2013/09/09012013/

  12. spookyparadigm
    September 1, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    @Chris Howard, well sure, ok. I meant it in the Xerox(TM) or Kleenex(Tm) or Jello(TM) sort of way. That said, don’t underestimate the power of youtube, not only for itself, but for being something people (including other media) will refer to.

    As for capital, I really do wonder who would want to fund a professional-level project. All of the reasons* why what there is of the skeptic movement is done either by non-professionals interested in science, or by professionals as something of a sideline or hobby (with a few exceptions that might lead the way, such as the NCSE), are 10xfold when you’re talking about money.

    *not to professional benefit; asking to get sucked into a morass of green ink letters; strange and weird; not really a big problem anyway (something no one says about evolution after Kansas and Dover, do they?); and so on …

  13. spookyparadigm
    September 1, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    And lest that last post seem too defeatist, I suspect we will see more anti-woo projects that take advantage of online media. But it will be done by people who as Chris Howard says, just do it, rather than trying to line up all their ducks in a row and look for funding.

    That said, if Warner Brothers can sucker people through Kickstarter into giving the world’s largest media company $6,000,000 to start the process of making a Veronica Mars movie, surely the money can be found for this.

  14. Chris Howard
    September 1, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    I don’t underestimate YouTube, but lets be honest, it’s overwhelmingly amature hour.

    If you want to garner anything outside of the skeptic demographic echo chamber you have to get to places that people see good production value. YouTube is not the place for that. Maybe after the content has played on iTunes, Netflix, Amazon etc., in other words once it is perceived as legitimate. YouTube does not convey legitimacy in most people’s minds, and rightly so.

    Most people see YouTube (rightly or wrongly) as some people with camcorders, and hobby level editing equipment, and an Internet connection. The perception is (again, rightly or wrongly) that it’s free, so how good can it be?

    The other downside to YouTube is that the revenue stream from YouTube is relatively non existent. VOD provides revenue to fund further projects, and to pay people. It makes the project professional, and therefore legitimate in the eyes of industry professionals.

    If you are serious about the message then you bring your A game. It’s true of formatting research papers, and funding proposals, and its true of production values for TV. One may have the best theory in the world, but the proposal will be thrown on the reject pile if the formatting is incorrect. The correlation is that if your production value is subpar than your formatting is incorrect, and therefore aren’t serious.

    Yet we expect that everyone should flock to our blog casts because our message should stand on its own, production value be damned. Slick production value is for the idiots in Hollywood! That may be true but it isn’t a realistic expectation.

    It has never been cheaper to produce content, and distribute it. In order to be taken seriously we have to take content creation seriously. That means creating high quality content, and caring enough about it to have it displayed in a legitimate way. Or put another way, don’t submit your dissertation to the National Inquirer, and expect to be taken seriously by your peers, or anyone else for that matter.

  15. Duncan Disorderly
    September 2, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    Animal Planet appears Hell-bent on re-imaging itself as “Human Vegetable Planet.”

  16. YetAnoutherBrian
    September 3, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    I stopped watching Animal Planet when they recommended acupuncture for cat with bowel issues. Although, if I had a cat with a pooping problem I might be tempted to try.

  17. Bradman
    February 23, 2014 at 10:16 PM

    David Hannum said it best when criticizing P.T. Barnum (of Barnum & Bailey Circus & famous for his side show freaks), “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

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