A TV show about nature seduces and consumes

Editor’s Note: In 2011/2012, “Good and Evil with J. Williamez” will be in The Uniter every two weeks. In weeks when it’s not in the paper, “An Open Relationship with Melanie Dahling” will appear in this space.

I’ve never really been that into TV—or at least, that’s what I tell people in between my favourite shows.

Recently I’ve become hopelessly and pathetically addicted to a show called Man vs. Wild.

So much so, in fact, that my girlfriend is convinced that I have a big boy crush on the show’s host, a former British special forces officer and survival expert named Bear Grylls. (Yes, his name is Bear. Get over it.)

In every episode, Bear goes to a different type of wilderness where lots of people die every year to show how one could actually survive the elements.

It’s really entertaining, I have to admit. He climbs up and down mountains, makes shelters out of dead animals à la Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back, eats bugs and snakes, and even drinks his own pee!

I’ve watched the show so much in the past while that it has actually changed the way I think about nature. And I’m beginning to think that might be a bad thing.

I used to think of the wilderness as being something like Transcona: fun to drive through once in a while, but I’d never want to spend any real amount of time there.

But now, after seeing how effortlessly Bear Grylls is able to survive in these hostile conditions, I’ve started to subconsciously convince myself that I could do it too.

Even though Man vs. Wild is nothing more than voyeuristic entertainment, I’ve actually come to see it as an instructional series that, in and of itself, is all I need to actually learn how to survive in any environment nature could possible throw at me.

I have convinced myself that, simply by watching TV, I have become a survival expert.

This scares me because it means that I no longer fear the awesome power of nature. Instead of being careful and wary when I’m in the wilderness, I now find myself eating random plants and animals like pine trees and squirrels.

The other day it got a little chilly in the evening, so I killed a fat old lady and made a shelter out of her carcass.

“Well, what’s the problem with that?” you might ask.

On the surface, eating trees, squirrels and fat old ladies may not seem like much of a problem at all. But if you think about my earlier comparison between Transcona and the wilderness, you’ll see why I think this show may be ruining my life.

If I used to avoid the wilderness and Transcona to the same degree, I’m very afraid that, now that I’m a survival expert, I might start spending more time in Transcona.

First I might stop rolling up all my windows as I drive through.

Then I might even stop for the occasional cup of coffee. Then, if my worst fears come true, I might even go there for fun!

No show is worth that, no matter how much of a big boy crush I might have.

J. Williamez once convinced himself he was an expert at home repair after watching a “Home Improvement” marathon.

Published in Volume 66, Number 5 of The Uniter (September 29, 2011)

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