Obligatory “Shark Week Is Overrated” Blog Post.
“Live every week like it’s shark week.”
-Tracey Jordan, 30 Rock
This week is Shark Week, a phenomenon that is, to my mind, completely overrated and bolstered by countless Facebook status updates extolling excitement over what is, by and large, hours upon hours of extremely boring television that no one even watches. Don’t get me wrong, I love sharks. If I had to list my favorite animals, the shark would be right up there. Though it’s a bit embarrassing to admit, when I was a kid I had a giant poster that featured every species of shark, along with their physical dimensions listed below them. I spent many a night, after having supposedly been sent to bed, looking at this poster and studying this thing, trying to become the world’s only 3rd grade shark expert.
There’s something about sharks that just commands respect. Maybe it’s the fact that they’ve been basically the same since the dawn of time. Maybe it’s because they’re unbelievable killing machines. Maybe it’s because of Jaws. But for whatever reason, they are the only animal that I know of with an entire week of television devoted to their particular brand of bad-assery, which is a great idea in theory. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that shark week is simply not that interesting. When you actually sit down to watch it, it kind of sucks.
There are a few reasons for this, but the main one is this: people like sharks because they are killing machines. They can kill seals, other sharks, and even people pretty easily. The last part, the fact that they can kill people, has always been what’s fascinating about sharks. Fortunately, this hardly ever happens. And when it does happen, there’s generally not a camera present. So the one thing that people really want to see (sharks killing humans) is not available. In fact, most of the footage we have of sharks is just them swimming around, probably looking for food. Which is, generally speaking, not that interesting. Sure, there’s a certain sense of dread that accrues from watching a massive, floating merchant of death swimming around like an underwater Anton Chigurh, with dramatic music playing in the background. But it never leads to anything, and that’s why Shark Week will always be unimpressive.
Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I want footage of sharks killing people. That would be horrible, and if someone used footage of that for commercial gain (I’m looking at you, Steve Zissou) it would be reprehensible. But no one wants to watch a movie about a killer who never actually kills people. And people don’t like nature documentaries, generally. So that’s why it’s so vexing to log on to Facebook and see 15 statuses talking about excited they are. Explain yourself, world!