The latest TV shows about legendary and mythological monsters will undoubtedly attract massive audiences. Whether they receive good reviews or not, that’s a different story.
Mass-media is a double-edged sword and, in the right hands, disinformation can become a powerful weapon. After years and years of hunting down these creatures, these documentaries have failed to answer the most important question of all – do they or don’t they exist?
Monster hunting shows seem to follow a certain pattern. The audience is given some information about the monster, witnesses are interviewed, and clues are examined. All’s fine and dandy until some dubious details make us question their veracity.
The so-called evidence is not on the screen long enough for viewers to analyze it for themselves. And then there are the footprints. They are just too perfect, while an animal or monster on the move would leave uneven impressions. How can we be sure these are not made by some plaster mold pressed against the dirt? (1)
The hunters hear things, have glimpses of something, but it’s all very vague. It’s hard to imagine how, with all the latest advances of technology, the team cannot record a distant sound or image everyone else seems to hear or see loud and clear. Plus, the creature calls that are recorded sound as if they are made by a studio technician.
Discovery owned Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot wishes to be more convincing by having a skeptical scientist onboard (2). But the team makes too much noise, as if to scare away some wild animal. It’s unlikely a reclusive monster will get close to the cameras with that much fuzz. But at least they take all evidence to the lab for testing (3).
Discovery Channel’s Fake Documentaries Bloopers
Destination America’s Mountain Monsters is marketed like a reality show. But it’s far from real. Set in the Appalachian Mountains, it features a team of hillbilly hunters who are trying to catch famous cryptid monsters like El Chupacabra, the Wolfman, Mothman, Wampus Beast, and Grassman. So far, they have failed to trap any monster in every single episode (4). These “in search of …” shows are undoubtedly superficial.
It all began in 2004 with Animal Planet’s Dragons:A Fantasy Made Real. For the first time on television, a documentary was making mythological creatures seem real. It was a realistic approach without reality (5).
Discovery Channel’s Magalodon: The Monster Shark Lives was marketed as an actual documentary. The only problem was that the creature is not even close to being alive. They claimed a prehistoric shark called the Magalodon was still lurking in the oceans and was making victims off the African Coast. Yet scientists know it has been extinct for about 1.5 million years and will probably stay that way. Around 70% of viewers were convinced it actually exists (6).
Imagine the outrage when everyone found out it was fake. The show consisted of false attacks and computer generated imagery (CGI), while the disclaimer was a mere flash at the end of the show (5). The documentary was nothing more than a mixture of facts and lies (7).
And the list of fabricated documentaries continues. In 2012, Animal Planet’s Mermaids: The Body Found was a hoax movie filled with CGIs (8). What’s even worse, they aired two episodes about these mermaids, claiming they were alive and well. And people bought it.
Fabricated Shark Week documentaries also mislead the audience. Yet scientists continue to appear on these shows. Why is that? Simple, the network is lying to them. Researchers’ interviews and pieces of evidence are taken out of the context (9).
Pros and Cons
Monster shows bring a bunch of cryptid creatures into the spotlight, some less known than others. It’s both captivating and educational to learn about new monsters, whether they are alive or not, real or imaginary. People are watching these shows, and that says a lot.
In 2014, the sequel titled Megalodon: The New Evidence fetched 4.8 million viewers (10). We are naturally drawn to mysteries and the latest discoveries, and let’s admit it – we all hope they’ll catch a monster and prove its existence once and for all.
That would definitely change our perception of the world. Fake sharks and mythological creatures seem to draw more attention than real ones. As long as you don’t take them seriously, these shows can actually be fun to watch.
Discovery Channels’ monster hunting documentaries are works of speculative science fiction. These pseudoscience shows are their bread and butter, but unfortunately they are intentionally misleading people.
Fake documentaries seem fun at first glance. They are convincing people that mermaids, prehistoric sharks, and man-eating snakes are alive and in search of their next victim. That’s no laughing matter because in terms of scientific integrity these shows leave much to be desired.
So far, they have yet to prove that these creatures are actually out there. Anything less than concrete evidence that can pass rigorous laboratory tests is unacceptable.
It is because of these shows that people are losing faith in cryptozoology. So in conclusion, the answer is yes – these shows are indeed hurting cryptid creatures.
Discovery Channel’s new president Rich Ross promises he’ll put an end to the network’s fake documentaries. He has yet to apologize for the Megalodon blooper, but there’s still hope (10).
References & Image Credits:
(1) Visit Crypoville
(2) Scientific American
(3) Not a Ghost
(4) Huffington Post
(5) The Insightful Panda
(6) Business Insider
(11) Wikipedia: Discovery Channel