Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mermaids: Nonsense or Nuisance?

Animal Planet has raised quite a furor over its airing of the "speculative" documentary "Mermaids: The New Evidence." Capping its annual Monster Week, a network once known for safari shows and puppy bowls is turning over increasing amounts of its broadcast time to cryptozoology shows like "Lost Tapes," "Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real," and "Finding Bigfoot".
In fact, "Finding Bigfoot" was at the center of another, similar,controversy reported last year by Entertainment Weekly as TV critics turned skeptics, forced Animal Planet president Marjorie Kaplan to offer a vague defense of the show as "an exploration of the secret corners of the planet," since it lacks anything approaching hard evidence.

Should They Have Aired It?

Animal Planet has 3.6 million reasons (as in viewers!) why they should've.
There's really nothing wrong with using actors to re-enact scenes for a documentary. But where is the line? "Unsolved Mysteries" gives a framework for its actors to pretend they were criminals, but actors on "Mermaids" pretend they're scientists with nothing but a tiny caveat in the credits to suggest it's anything but 100% fact.
Animal Planet's first "Mermaids" installment, "Mermaids: The Body Found," garnered 3.4 million views during its U.S. telecast premiere on Sunday, May 27, 2012. After the airing, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had to release an official statement putting it, in unequivocal terms, "No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found." Marine biologist David Shiffman wrote an article for Slate explaining why we should stop worrying about mythical sea life and focus on the damage being done to the sea life we know exists. He talks about fisheries where up to 90 percent of a catch is made up of unintended victims. Not the commercial fish, but "endangered sea turtles and sea birds as well as marine mammals."

So, do mermaids exist?

Science says no. But science is a process of discovery. And, as this tweet's skepticism of skepticism suggests:
There's no reason not to believe that they might.
But science is also pretty good at predicting. And just because we haven't laid eyes on 90% of the ocean, doesn't mean we don't have a pretty good idea of what's going on down there. Just because you haven't been to your tool shed in a month doesn't make it any more likely that Bigfoot's decided to take up residence in there.
Despite this, the fascination with mermaids persists, as the comments on articles like these attest. And why not? It fills the unknown depths of the ocean with hope and wonder rather than fear. Kaplan isn't exaggerating when she says, "These extraordinary television specials have electrified, challenged, and entertained television audiences."
Maybe all these numbers mean is we need a little more mystery. It's been a while since the "X-Files" sent us off to search the skies. How about, instead of a faux doc, we make a show featuring two charismatic FBI agents uncovering the "truth" about mermaids on a weekly basis? Of course, the two attractive agents would be constantly getting soaked and spending most of the episodes half-naked waiting for their clothes to dry. That ought to be enough to blow the ratings numbers for "Mermaids" — ahem — out of the water.

1 comment:

  1. The page you agents keep claiming is saying that those videos are mockumentaries in fact doesn't say that at all, nor is in any other way as you keep claiming. It's also a proven lie, because homo sapiens sapiens are proven to be semi-aquatic, with the possibility of more aquatic of missing link ancestors to explain it. The Aquatic Ape Theory is real science, while the garbage you faux intellectuals spew is not remotely about science, and is entirely about the anti-science cult of Atheism where everything Atheist, deems not to exist must not be allowed to be question if could exist.

    The "evidence" linked to the lies all over the internet of it being admitted to be a mockumentary in no way says that, and does not come from the people who made the video. In fact, isn't the NOAA one of the groups they specifically say in The Body Found is covering things up? So, why would you trust them?

    CG past stuff, and dramatizations are normal in documentaries. Their doing this does not prove it is a mockumentary. There is literally NO proof it is a mockumentary. It's just government agents like you pushing all over the place that it was admitted to be one when no such statement was ever made. If one looks for such a thing, all that turns up is fake news sources, like your blog, claiming it without evidence.

    Science does not predict. You're ignorant. It's science FICTION that is on record as excellent in prediction. Not science itself. You took an old teaching many have forgotten, and twisted it, you fucking spin doctor. That old fact was about comic books, and you changed it to it being science itself that is predicting things.

    You're also ignorant as fuck about marine biology to be claiming that it's just the same old in the ocean while loads of new species keep being discovered, and while things thought extinct are also proven not to be extinct. Way to prove your ass a faux intellectual by not knowing anything about either marine biology, or marine biology news.
    Science in no way predicted such things as football fish, that giant octopi, and giant squid are real, or that sea serpents (the end/edge of the Earth map cliche ones) / Eastern dragons (oarfish) are real. Yet. Hey, asshole! These things exist! They're proven! There are sea serpents in aquariums, and everything! So, how the fuck do you get off, acting like mermaid are preposterous? Easy. You don't know shit about science, scientific news, or the various species already known to factually exist.

    You're just a faux intellectual piece of trash spewing out lies.