BCM 310
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How To Broadcast Survival Pornography

Bear Grylls’s The Island, showed contestants hunting and killing animals for food – contextually, if you’re trapped on an island, it makes sense – but on TV, the presentation of this event is debated as pornography for viewer ratings. Survival pornography – the broadcast of suffering and tragedy as entertainment for the pleasure of viewers – in this case, contestants on the reality show The Island are forced to their “limits” to survive as if stranded on an island. But it’s known that the Channel 4 production, hosted by Bear Grylls, can easily intervene with the contestants “as we were reminded when [Grylls] shipped in emergency new equipment because the … gang couldn’t light a fire” (O’Sullivan 2015). DailyMail (Crone 2015) even suggests  that producers were releasing extra pigs, iguanas, and crocodiles for contestants to eat.

In light, it’s easy to understand the outrage that viewers experienced after watching “innocent animals … being snuffed out in the heartless pursuit of decent viewing figures” (O’Sullivan 2015). After killing a crocodile, the team cheers, slaps hands together and swear with smiles – it’s unsettling to see how close the production team, and the camera crew are to the event. The crocodile in question also happened to be a protected American crocodile, which the producers thought that the reptile was a common caiman.  The event is arguably a setup, or at the very least could have been prevented. It’s the production and presentation of animal cruelty for entertainment and profit. At least the group will survive another night eating endangered crocodile meat next to producers eating cans of beans in a trailer.

I guess we can’t present survival on Television. As this show symbolises, we do not know how, and we can not accept the portrayal of extreme actions of cruelty even if its for survival. Perhaps it’s the production and setup of the events that causes retaliation. In this case, it’s setup so that we can view how an animal might be killed in the act of survival – the justification of the kill is valid. Isn’t this better than viewing animal slaughtering for mass food production?


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