Survival is not a game.
I don’t watch survival shows because I want to be entertained. I watch them, because if even one nugget of wisdom happens to lodge itself into my rote memory, it could be the one that saves mine or the life of another.
The main criticism that most of these shows receives is that it is all staged. There’s a camera crew and rescue is a radio away. It’s true that in most cases, the scenarios are well planned in advance. But as I stated in my review of President Obama’s episode of Running Wild, nothing is ever 99% foolproof.
There is always going to be that %1 that no one can account for. So for that 1%, which is how people wind up in a situation where they may need to self rescue, there is no such thing as too much knowledge. And when Man Vs. Wild isn’t an option, there are two guys (later three) that I will always tune in to.
Dual Survivor features Joe Teti and Cody Lundin. After a difference of opinion regarding safety (Cody always went barefoot and wore shorts, regardless of the climate) Cody was later replaced by Matt Graham.
Each episode, these survival experts begin with a scenario that left a less experienced individual either injured, lost, or dead. Using their training and experience, and oftentimes having only the tools that the individual in that scenario had in their possession (so that means no knife) they work together to get back to safety.
Joe has military training (for the purposes of this blog post, I am disregarding the current media chatter that has been surfacing on the grounds that I do not support, or contribute gossip) . Cody and Matt respectively are traditionally trained in the arts of survival.
While their different approaches can sometimes lead to disagreements, this is never played up for drama. The main goal of the show is to educate and to inform.
You take in that in contrast with shows like Naked and Afraid, that while not as gimmicky as I once believed it to be, still has moments -especially in the season long competition known as “XL” -where the show clearly exists for entertainment value.
So why am I so concerned about this up coming season that will feature two completely knew survivalists? I’m always willing to see new ideas and perspectives. It’s not that I can’t accept change when it is necessary. But I think what causes me the most concern is the advertising.
Grady Powell is a Green Beret who is also one of the youngest people to become a Special Forces Operator. Bill McConnell brings the primitive skills and traditional side of the duality that makes up the show.
When I saw the TV spot for this up and coming season, they referred to Bill as a ” hippie”.
Putting aside the fact that we are in a volatile media climate, where political correctness and basic human decency are a constant subject of debate, the word hippie carries with it a number of implications. For me, the implication is that the Discovery Channel is going to try very hard to play up the dramatic angle.
Maybe hippie isn’t necessarily offensive. But even if you’re going for a lighthearted jibe to show viewers how different his approach to survival is, it’s going to bias some people. Viewers that might stand to learn something from these two men may be unfairly turned off by that simple word.
So there is my preemptive preview. I will look forward to January 13th with a mixture of trepidation and optimism and follow up with a proper review. I hope my readers will join me on that day.