Thursday, 8 August 2013

Fake fin film fuss

I like sharks. I like megalodon teeth and the idea of a 60ft shark. I also like yeti, Nessie, oran pendek and cryptozoology in general. It's nice to think there's a chance there's something mysterious out there, still waiting to be formally discovered; that those fuzzy glimpses of a guy in a gorilla suit might turn out to be bigfoot, that El Chupacabra might eventually be trapped on a Chilean goat farm and paraded on YouTube. I know* that's not going to happen. But I'd still like to believe that... So I can see that there might be a great market for a mockumentary on megalodon, suggesting the giant shark might still haunt the oceans waiting for some unlucky divers and battling enormous squid.

The Discovery Channel recently aired just that, with Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives for Shark Week - a celebration of all things sharky, and a big deal in the US, which unfortunately doesn't get much press over here. The fake documentary seems to have caused a bit of an upset, angering Twitterland for blurring the fact/fiction lines. Discovery stuck in a a few disclaimers, and with actors playing scientists and some cheesy dramatic music I can't imagine it'll have resulted in thousands of people cancelling their beach holidays or buying a harpoon gun for their canoe. If megalodon hadn't actually died out two million years ago and was still swimming around somewhere we'd know about it by now. With marine exploration reaching new depths and the accessibility and connectivity of modern research it would be very difficult to keep a gargantuan eating machine hidden away.

I haven't seen the show, but I'd like to. If the program wasn't perhaps as factual as might be expected from what purports to be an educational channel, I think it's acceptable to have a balanced approach to conveying information, with entertainment an effective tool in moderation. There's room for both. Spinal Tap didn't put me off going to see live music. Now if you'll excuse me, the skies are darkening and I must retreat to my sharknado bunker.

*In the acceptable degree of certainty, based on all available evidence type of knowing, for all you pedants.

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