On December 7 in the U.S., the Discovery Channel is scheduled to air a documentary that will literally see a man being eaten by a snake. Why you ask? Well evidently it’s for ratings, but more on that later. You see, Eaten Alive, a Discovery special will see Paul Rosolie, a naturalist/wildlife filmmaker sacrifice himself to a gigantic anaconda. He will go head first into the belly of the beast and he’s inviting viewers to go along for the ride, except that some viewers aren’t really feeling it.
Over 25,000 people (and counting) have already signed an online petition urging Discovery not to air the program but the channel has been tight lipped about it. Nevertheless the publicity has already started a frenzy around the program, which could result in a pretty big viewership for Discovery, which is great. But, probably not so much for the snake.
Discovery and Rosolie have urged that no harm has come to the snake but that doesn’t mean it’s alright. Digesting a full-grown human being is probably not what an anaconda should be doing, even more so with Rosolie decked out in a snake-proof suit kitted with cameras to record the ordeal. PETA’s naturally up in arms and so are animal rights activists but chances are Eaten Alive will be aired anyway.
The fact that the once highly-regarded educational channel has resorted to tactics straight out of a horror movie is mind-boggling. Certainly there’s more shock factor than science factor involved with Eaten Alive but it’s just another part of a worrying trend that Discovery seems to be adopting these days.
In the past couple of years we’ve seen a man walk a tightrope blindfolded over a city, and we’ve seen a number of mockumentaries (staged documentaries) on giant sharks and mermaids aired over the channel. In terms of education, there’s very little that goes on with these shows but it would seem Discovery is set to continue with them anyway because shows like these do garner the ratings.
It would likely be the same case for Eaten Alive. Yes, we’re puzzled at the idea and some of us are even a little pissed off by this stunt passing itself off as a documentary. Undoubtedly, Eaten Alive will teach us very little about anacondas but all of that won’t matter because most of us are going to tune in anyway. Do we really need to see a guy eaten by a snake? The answer is no, but hey, if they’re going to show it, the viewers will definitely be tuning it. And that’s just the nature of the beast that is television.