Why Is Discovery Channel Still Defending Its Fake Megalodon Sharkumentary?
Since Shark Week's inaugural documentary on the mighty (and extinct) Megalodon, Discovery Channel has been rustling about for the perfect excuse for Megalodon, The Monster Shark Lives following backlash over the fake special. (Shark Week devotees complained that Discovery had foregone its commitment to facts for the sake of entertaining television.) For some reason, however, the one they picked was this, a delightful musing from the senior director of development Michael Sorensen:
With a whole week of Shark Week programming ahead of us, we wanted to explore the possibilities of Megalodon. It’s one of the most debated shark discussions of all time, can Megalodon exist today? It’s Ultimate Shark Week fantasy. The stories have been out there for years and with 95 percent of the ocean unexplored, who really knows?
Um... okay? I like that he bravely states that a monster shark is the "ultimate Shark Week fantasy," even though the idea of a monstrous homicidal dinoshark is pretty much everyone's nightmare. Also, literally no one was debating the existence of an animal that went extinct a long-ass time ago. There really isn't anyone wandering about completely convinced that dinosaurs are still alive (they've just been hiding out for thousands of years), so it's hard to see how Megalodons would be different.
Also, with my rudimentary high school science, I can already blast a huge hole in their entire theory. The thought, at least that expressed in the mockumentary, is that the Megalodon has potentially been hiding in the deep sea for a bazillion years, but now that the sea is getting warmer (due to global warming), the mighty Megalodon is now daring to venture out, since it really prefers warmer water (like most sharks). Errr... but guys... the deep sea is fucking freezing. It is freeze-your-balls-off cold down there. So how and why exactly would a monster shark just chill out (literally), making babies and generally just being a monster shark for centuries when the thing you have to know about sharks is that they really don't like being cold? (Unless we're talking about a polar shark, which still wouldn't choose to abruptly turn up its water's thermostat.)
The thing is, that as I've said before, this weird focus on mythical sharks isn't an issue because it's there. If Discovery Channel had branded it as an exploration of all the crazy myths that pertain to the Megalodon, it would have been fine, because in a theoretical universe, more is more, even when it comes to sharks. The issue is that this documentary was clearly represented as fact when it was in fact conjecture, and that's not really within the sphere of science channels during weeks focused on education to cover and then defend.
So it seems like Discovery Channel either needs to bite the bullet and tell us the truth — that they were doing an experiment this year to try and boost ratings, but it was a mistake and it won't happen again — or come up with a better explanation. Because telling us what it is we are supposed to like and want from Shark Week is definitely, definitely not the way forward. And for the record, Michael Sorensen, my ultimate Shark Week fantasy is Andy Dick in a tie-dye wetsuit riding a whale shark, so either get on that or leave shark-related fantasies alone.