It's Shark Week, America's only holiday between Fourth of July and Labor Day! Discovery's super-hyped promotion features shows like Surviving Sharks (pretty self-explanatory), Day of the Shark (do sharks attack more during the day or night?), and Deadly Stripes (in which a diver swims with a man-eating tiger shark without a cage). We're not ashamed to say that we've been watching Shark Week obsessively, and we couldn't help but notice a recurring — and disturbing — theme. Sharks are sorta scary, Discovery Channel tells us, but they're not that dangerous! They’re actually pretty cute! They could kill us and eat us right now, but they’re not going to! None of the divers ever gets hurt, and sharks come off looking like harmless, misunderstood heroes of the wild.
"It sounds crazy, but it was kind of like the relationships you have between dolphin and man," says diver Mark Addison on Deadly Stripes, while petting a tiger shark. The show even takes time to describe the shark's natural caution toward humans, evolved over thousands of years of us killing them. But why, pray tell, did we used to kill them? Because — surprise! — they enjoy eating us.
Look, it has to be said, for the safety of our children: Just because that tiger shark is not eating Mark Addison right this moment does not mean it will not eat him, ever. Look at it from our human perspective. If you see a cute cow crossing the street, you’ll probably stop your car and let it pass. That cute cow would think, See, those humans aren’t that dangerous! They could kill us and eat us right now, but they’re not going to! But if a cute cow is crossing the street, and you’ve been stuck in your car for a week without food, well, that cute cow is turning into some cute rib eye, fast.
All we’re saying is that regardless of how Discovery depicts them, sharks are not your friends. Especially if they’re hungry. —Ari Rosenblum