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SURVIVORMAN VS. MAN VS. WILD
I used to pick on "Survivorman" Les Stroud in these pages. He was guilty of being a showman first and an educator second. That's fine if your show is about baking or home decorating. When it comes to survival however, I think we all know that facts have to trump hype and ratings.
In any case, I sat through season one of Survivorman and then tore it up pretty good in these pages. Then I stopped watching altogether. Over time, a bunch of you, the readers, have written me and asked that I give Les another go around.
It turns out that Les has gotten a lot better. It seems that the all too sensationalistic Survivorman episodes where Les attempts to survive with a pen, a rubber band, a paper clip and a stick of gum may be gone. He's now started to use some common sense, and he's even begun to stress preparedness and survival kits when trekking in hostile environments. He's also begun to get into the nitty gritty of shelters, fire, water and food. His prioritization has likewise improved to the point where he's not likely to get anyone killed. Kudos to Les on the turnaround and newfound common sense approach.
Which brings me to the point of this article...
You, the readers, have been writing in and begging for me to write up Bear Gryls and his show, "Man vs. Wild". You've asked how I could perform the literary equivalent of disembowelment on Les Stroud while leaving Bear Gryls untouched... and you're ABSOLUTELY CORRECT.
As such, consider this page my humble retraction on Les. As for "Bear" Gryls, let's now make ourselves a "Bear" skin rug.
Les gets chewed by mosquitoes in the night while Bear snores on Egyptian cotton. Les starves while Bear nibbles on fine cuisine. Les is at least braving the elements, while Bear stays in 5-star resorts. It's a well documented fact that Bear Gryls is a gigantic fraud. British tabloids and other reporters have repeatedly caught Bear living in the lap of luxury while he's supposedly "roughing it". Discovery channel was eventually forced to post a disclaimer at the beginning of Bear's shows that they are not in fact reality. This from a show that portrayed his exploits as reality for several seasons.
What I used to think of as sensationalism from Les is nothing compared to the dancing, dung-eating, ass-clown spectacle that is Bear-Gryls.
My advice on Bear Gryls is really simple.... DON'T EVER DO ANYTHING THAT THIS ASSHOLE DOES! Attempting to survive by emulating Bear Gryls will likely get you killed. I've braved multiple episodes of "Man vs. Wild" and I feel like I get dumber each time I watch. Bear is all about ratings, and he could give two shits about imparting valid priorities or information. Simply put... avoid this kind of drivel... you'll be better off.
The page I used to have about "Survivorman" was a list of things I found that were either wrong or showed skewed priorities. Whereas Les has seemingly straightened out his shit, I'm done nitpicking, and I can only hope he sticks to information over entertainment. That said, I really can't post a listing of all that's wrong with Bear Gryls. I'd have to post an encyclopedic volume for each show, all linked up and cross referenced. Besides... to do that, I'd actually be forced to watch all his crappy, farcical shows, and I might put a boot through my TV.
If you're ever forced to sit through his show, think of it as a tragic comedy of errors. Keep in mind that the show is not about survival, but about the self indulgence of an egocentric narcissist trying to portray himself as a tough guy and hero. It will make a lot more sense that way, and you may even get a couple laughs out of it.
M40 - June 3rd, 2008
My old write up on Les Stroud...
I've received quite a few emails about this TV program "Survivorman", and I finally purchased the 1st season on DVD.
The show features a guy named Les Stroud who puts himself in some quasi-realistic survival situations where he must live off the land and find his way out. All of these quests magically last exactly one week. It's uncanny how he always wanders out precisely on day 7. Aside from this glaringly obvious flaw, the show is okay at times.
Les has some skills... I grant him that. BUT, as an educational tool, his show falls VERY short in the common sense department. What can I say about Les Stroud? I think he’s a dangerous guy for quite a few reasons. One problem is that he tries to use all his skills in every outing, yet has never once stressed any sort of prioritization. If he has any priorities, they are WAY OFF.
He doesn't stress the rule of threes, and thus often creates even more dangerous situations than necessary. He does things that you should NEVER DO in survival situations. In short, if people watch "Survivorman" and the only survival information they have is what they learn from him, he could kill those people.
Below you'll find just a few examples of the issues I have with this program.
I have watched Les Stroud...
This list is off the top of my head. It is by no means a complete list !
...drink water directly from a jungle stream. No boiling, no filter, he just stuck his head in and drank his fill. STUPID, STUPID, STUPID. But then again, Les KNOWS he's going to get rescued at the end of his stay, right?
...eat a wild mushroom in a field in the Canadian mountains. This is a great way to DIE, and for what? A mushroom has almost ZERO calories or vitamins. They are 99% air and water. Most are poisonous. Mushrooms are NOT WORTH IT! Even if Les is an expert on mushrooms, he should have edited this scene out! Les was simply showing off for the camera. And he was doing so at the possible expense of the lives of any viewer who tries to imitate him.
...build what would otherwise be decent shelters, except that he stops piling on brush after a few inches of cover. Not enough to shield from rain or wind, never mind hold in any body heat. I think Les is worried about killing plants.
...wander into a jungle or forest to "find his way out" of places he entered by water. Gee Les, why not just follow the river or coastline back the way you came? Is it that it wouldn't make for good TV? It's fine to be entertaining, but not at the expense of giving bad advice.
...waste hours making the shittiest slingshot I've ever seen. Why not emphasize simple hunting tools that actually work? We all know the answer to this one. Les's heart bleeds for every critter he kills, and he's constantly railing on about environmental crap. Not something people who are struggling to survive should be worried about!
...waste hours making the worst figure 4 trap I've ever seen only to forget to bait it. Was this an oversight? Is the reason that he's never built one, or is the real reason that he doesn't want to actually catch anything? (don't want to harm those animals!).
...opine about not hurting plants and animals, and in the same episode he's worried about bears eating him! You can't make this stuff up. This last one was perhaps the most disgusting display of shrub cuddling being prioritized over survival that I’ve ever seen.
Go ahead and enjoy "Survivorman", but just remember that this is NOT an educational program. As I said, Les DOES seem to know what he’s doing... and what he’s doing is making sit-coms!