Man vs Wild and Survivorman

I wrote this in response to a post in a forum about how Man vs Wild is a hoax. I thought I'd post it here, since my rant of a reply became a lot longer than I anticipated.

The BBC canceled Man vs Wild in Europe. It's still going to play in the US.

The article about it being a hoax has been over played. It's not a hoax. True, the camera team assembled a life raft on the island before filming it to make sure it would actually float and be relatively safe (they floated out into an ocean with sharks, I would have done the same!).

The other thing that was overplayed is that he stayed in a hotel a couple of times while on one of the islands (they never said he stayed in the hotel instead of outside... he probably stayed in a hotel the first day they arrived before going out on the adventure). And even if he stayed in a hotel a few times, WHO CARES? Good for him. He could use a couple of comfortable trips. People love making up things and overplaying news when the details are not clear. Don't believe everything you read!

He states in the beginning of every show that "a camera crew will follow me". Obviously the camera crew has protective gear and tents. Where do you think they sleep when he sleeps in a tiny hole in the ground during a blizzard? Every time he starts a fire, he's using nothing but flint and his knife... even when its raining! I don't see him using matches or a lighter or showing us the fire without showing him lighting it!

The thing about Man vs Wild is that Bear Grylls can take risks that might be necessary in a survival situation, but that he would never do alone simply to get it on video. That's what makes Man vs Wild exciting.

On the other hand, Survivorman is unique in the way that he must carry all his camera equipment with him. Every single camera angle you see he had to setup beforehand. When you see an angle of him crossing a river, you know he had to cross it a second and third time just to get his camera back. It's also unique in the way that you know if something goes wrong, he really is alone (of course, if something went really wrong, you probably wouldn't be watching it on TV -- that's TV Reality).

If he doesn't reach his rendezvous point by the stated time, the crew has to come looking for him. Its very cool to know how alone he really is when you're watching him. But that's not exciting. He can't take great risks and show you cool things that you might need to do in a survival situation. He can't jump into a big pool of quicksand or risk hypothermia by crossing a frozen river, relying only on the pools of volcanic hot water he sees in the distance to keep him alive.

Entertainment is about risk and excitement, which is why Man vs Wild is more popular. Survivorman is more realistic, but who watches TV for realistic things? Anyone who believes a reality show, no matter what kind, is entirely unscripted really needs to get their head out of the dark area its in.

I personally like watching both, because the both have their good points. Man vs Wild is definitely more entertaining and if two new episodes of each were playing at the same time, I'd be watching Man vs Wild.

You can read more about these two shows on Wikipedia: Man vs Wild, Survivorman.

Bear Grylls is no wimp. If you read a little about him I'm sure you'll agree.

Here is the original BBC article I read about the hoax.

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  1. listen got to tell you the honest truth and that is if you actually pay attention to many of his shows you will notice major flaws such as how clean his cloths are after day 3 and 4 and you dont even want to watch closely in the scenes in the water where he is wearing a life preserver you claim he shows you how to do things to survive yet he dont take any risk i can float down a river in a life jacket and survive the desert with an ample supply of water so where is the thrill?

  2. oh and i checked out your bear link and even wikipedia points out how everything he has achieved has been an exaggerated lie. wow if you are going to support someone dont show evidence to the contrary

  3. You’re missing my point. My point is as much as people want to hammer on Bear for taking some safety precautions, he is not a wimp himself. He climbed Mount Everest when only “two years earlier he almost severed his spinal cord in a near fatal parachuting accident in Africa” [Wikipedia]. I climbed a couple of 4,000 ft peaks last weekend and those were no walk in the park.

    I never said I “support” anyone. I simply want to explain that people should stop comparing the two. They are two different shows and they take two different approaches to documenting survival situations.

    In a survival situation, you’re usually fighting for your life. How then, do you accurately recreate the situation without also risking your life? Sorry, but the entertainment industry is ruled by money, not by accuracy. If the actors took “real” risks, the producers and those funding the show would know their money is at risk too (if the actor gets hurt and cannot produce anymore shows, their money was wasted).The people providing the funds for these shows care about making money more than portraying an accurate survival situation. That’s why its called “entertainment”. The actors (Bear and Les) don’t choose where to go, they’re told. They don’t cut the film and shoot which parts to show on TV, someone else does that. They’re simply a necessary piece of the puzzle.

    You want thrill? Don’t watch TV. Get outside and do something adventurous. Challenge yourself.

  4. Bear is awesome. Too many people would rather see blood in a show, would like to watch Bear get hurt, or worse. I like Survivorman, but he always starves because he cries everytime he catches live food. When he does get live food, like a large rodent, he doesnt cook it right and wastes most of it.
    Bear zips through, shows lots of terrain, and shows the many survival tips that are important in surviving the wild. He also eats much better than Survivorguy.

  5. Agreed.

    Les Stroud comes from a media and arts background, where as Bear Grylls comes from a military background. Although both have a passion for the outdoors, Bear is a survivor of a personal tragedy (a parachuting accident which broke his back) which is probably why he seems to have a greater appreciation for all that life has to offer, regardless of how “gross” it is.

  6. I think you hit it right on the head. Great post! I have been saying something something similar all along.

    Anyone who thought Bear was “surviving” out there the entire time is an idiot. This show is completely different that Survivorman. Les is on his own, but even he has a support crew not far away. This is just common sense if you want to keep the shows Star alive in an emergency.

    I think the show is very entertaining and tune in every Friday. I’m watching re-runs right now!

  7. Thanks for the comment FFL!

    Real survival techniques are the kind of thing the average person will probably never need to use, let alone use the dozens of techniques Bear demonstrates. The point of Bear’s show is that of real life and death survival. Anything that moves is potential food. Conserving your energy is sometimes more important than being warm at night, and staying in one place may mean the difference between being found and dying alone.

    That’s not to put down Les; lugging around all that camera gear for 7 days and going hungry for so long is no walk in the park. But that’s why Les’s show is more unrealistic — no one in a real survival situation would be lugging around 70+ lbs of camera gear.

  8. It seemed to me that Man vs. Wild is more of a Worst Case Scenario Handbook that addresses specific situations you might encounter in the wilderness where as Les Stroud is showing you how to survive in general. Both have excellent survival techniques that are different, so you get more info watching them both. I love them both!

  9. Yeah, that would be awesome. I’d love to see them do a show together. It would be interesting to see how much Les can keep up with Bear and how much Bear can handle staying in one place with Les.

  10. I am a bit peeved at Man Vs Wild personally. After watching these last few episodes, I am just ticked at the way he wastes his food. He kills these animals purely for TV, not for survival. A few examples that upset me were the episode where he was on a small island. First he catches hermit crabs. Rips off the pinchers, and tosses the living helpless crabs back into the water. Unnessecary suffering for those crabs who may surely die without thier defenses. Then catches a large Sea Cucumber. Takes one bite. Talks of how discusting it is. And tosses the rest of the body. Then kills a gorgeous sting ray. GORGEOUS. Eats a few bites, and is done. Now you know if he was really surviving he would have eaten more than 1 or two bites of these animals. So he is just doing this for TV, and getting his real food off camera. If you want to TELL me how you COULD kill and eat a Sea cucumber or stingray, fine, tell me. But dont kill it and then not even eat it just to show how it’s done. Waste.
    He did the same thing in the swamp I believe it was, with a snake. Catches it. Bites the head off. Takes one or maybe two bites, then tosses the rest of the body into the water behind him WTF?!
    Not too happy about all that.
    I like Survivor man. He doesn’t kill certain animals because he knows he is just doing this for television, and some things are not worth killing, even for survival, if it’s just based for TV. He will instead tell of how you CAN kill and eat these animals. Such as baby birds in one episode. No one wants to see baby birds killed for a TV show. If it were really a matter of life and death, yeh, you could eat them.
    Man Vs. Wild upsets me more now than it used to. The more I see him waste food just so he can have a thrill killing it, and get away with it because it’s on TV.

  11. Thanks for your comment, Shnookey. I actually haven’t had a TV for the past few months so I haven’t watched any of the new episodes. That must be something new, because I can’t remember him wasting so much.

    I definitely agree with you though. There’s a fine line between giving examples of how something can be done and needlessly wasting life. I suppose you could look at it from a different angle and say him wasting the life of one or two of those animals is better than starting a survival camp and having hundreds of people kill hundreds of those animals just so they can “learn” how to survive.

    As long as they get the point across that when you need to survive, almost anything that is alive and moves can be potential food. I think Man vs. Wild gets this point across very well, but sounds like he’s starting to go overboard with it.

  12. i pursonly like survivor man more and i used to recored both shows on my tv.i used to watch both quite a bit.but recently i stoped recording man vs. wild, for i feel it just got inhuman and plain boring. also, i beleive one time he was on a mtn. and had his camra crew lower him down into a small crack in a rock. i just dont under stand why he HAD to do this, for if u were in a survival situwation, yes you would have to take certin risks but you wouldnt have to no what some stupit hole in the ground looked like.

    also on one of his shows when he tried to catch a “wild horse” this horse wasnt acculy a wild. you could plainy see that it had been freshly brush and had horse shoes on. i have been around wild horses before and i could barly get within 50 yards of the herd without one threatning to charge at me.


  13. Thanks for the comment, Josh! I agree with you that Bear Grylls does unnecessary and unrealistic things on his show. I’m sure it’s all to maintain approval ratings and sell the show to viewers. I mean, he has to make it look interesting, right? If all he did was survive, a lot less people would watch his show!

  14. I like both shows but Bear is a lot more entertaining, he’ll eat the crap where as Les will just starve. I’m not really bothered if Bear cheats a little, if he didn’t and died that wouldn’t be much use, in any case he stills does more than enough on cam that most wouldn’t dream off. That said my favorite survival show though was canceled, ‘I shouldn’t be Alive’ was great acting out actual happenings.

  15. Personally, I like Man Vs Wild much more. Even though a lot of Bear’s feats aren’t exactly practical, they’re a lot more exciting than watching Les chill in one area. Still, both shows are pretty interesting nonetheless.

    Are you sure Man Vs Wild is still playing in the U.S.? Its not showing up on my search results and I really want to watch it! 🙁 & I wonder if they’re supposed to be playing reruns or if they’re still filming new ones.

    • Hey Rachel,

      I actually don’t have a TV in my apartment anymore, so I’m not sure if it’s still playing in the U.S. If not, that’s too bad. It was one of the few shows I actually enjoyed watching!

  16. Just wanted everyone to know that there’s a new episode of Man vs. Wild on August 12th! He’s going to be in the Arctic Circle.

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