At this point, I know I’m beating a dead horse, but I really feel like Discovery Channel’s YouTube campaign is just going overboard, particularly the Shark Week 2009 promotional video below, titled “Swimming girl is in for a surprise,” in which a girl is swimming along and is then snatched by an unseen force (presumably a shark). It’s followed by some bloody “Shark Week” text and then a Discovery Channel logo with the Earth apparently bleeding in the water.
If that’s not enough, Discovery’s YouTube channel page features a watery background with blood and articles of clothing floating about. The first seven videos in their “Shark Week Archives” playlist focus on shark attack on humans.
Here’s a list of first seven videos from “Shark Week Archives” (in the order they appear on Discovery’s YouTube page)…
- Shark Week- Tiger Shark Attack: Beyond Fear
- Shark Expert Attacked While Filming
- Tiger Shark Attack
- Shark Week- Shark Attack Survivors
- Shark Bites – Man Loses Arm to Shark
- Best of Shark Week – Shark Attack: Predator in the Panhandle
If that’s not enough, the eighth video in the playlist, Shark Week- Fisherman Meets a Great White Shark, is a video that displays a fisherman’s tale of netting two great whites and features video of people parading around the carcass of a large white shark, including a guy sticking his head near the mouth of the dead shark for a photo op.
Discovery Channel needs to take some responsibility for this ad campaign. It does nothing but paint sharks in a negative perspective by focusing on shark attacks, fear, and terror. Discovery Channel claims on their Shark Conservation page that they are teaming up with the Ocean Conservancy “during Shark Week to help viewers learn more about one of the ocean’s most imperiled creatures and how viewers can help save them from the threats of overfishing and habitat loss.” Yet, they continue to perpetuate long-standing negative stereotypes about sharks as mindless killers with their fear-based promotional campaigns. Discovery Channel has the power to do something good when it comes to altering the misconceptions that people have about sharks. People are going to be far less likely to be conservationist-minded when it comes to sharks, if they’re duped into believing that sharks are like the monsters they see in horror movies and misguided advertising campaigns.
Discovery Channel, it’s time to step-up. You’re better than this.