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Survival

Unrealistic Reality Shows

by Dan Johnson   |  July 5th, 2011 23

My young grandnephew is an avid fan of survival shows and on a recent visit proudly showed me his new official Bear Grylls pocket knife. Despite the theatrics and often reckless advice of Man vs. Wild, a boy of nine could do a lot worse in choosing a hero. My kids grew up watching tree-hugger propaganda like Grizzly Adams and though I was able to keep them grounded in reality it is encouraging to see better TV role models for the current crop of youngsters.

It was only seven years ago that Survivorman was introduced to American viewers. In the first season it seemed the host, Les Stroud, was always apologizing for killing animals for food and stated he would only do so in a survival situation. I don’t know if it was the pressure to be politically correct or if Stroud truly felt that way in the beginning, but he stopped apologizing in later seasons and even themed some of his shows on hunters and carried a rifle or shotgun in several.

Copycat shows that followed mostly took a practical viewpoint of harvesting protein from the wild and showed more explicit scenes of the process of killing and processing edible wild critters. We have come a long way from the days when television shows almost all depicted the killing of animals as at least misguided if not downright evil and firearms as instruments of death that should only be carried by police and criminals.

There is still one obvious bit of reality missing from these reality shows, however. That, of course, is the sensible and common practice of carrying a handgun when venturing off the beaten path. While the producers of many TV shows seem to have taken a more reasonable view of hunting and long guns in general in recent years, handguns are still shunned for the most part. Little wonder since even many firearm aficionados view handguns as fit for little else other than killing other men.

I realize carrying a handgun on outdoor excursions is not an option in most parts of the world, but it would be nice to see one of these survival shows set in the land of the free where they exercise one of our most important freedoms. Bear? Dave? Please demonstrate how one can survive in one of America’s wildest places with just a handgun, a knife, and a Bic lighter. Three things any sensible American would always have on them when visiting wild places, or not so wild places for that matter. I will be sure to set the DVR for that one.

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