Documentaries’ truth challenged; fake things in nature documentaries

People are fond of giving reality TV shit for being fake and scripted, even though a lot of it is just produced, not fake (and there is a difference).

Documentary films–including those that have won awards–aren’t immune from criticism, but the genre isn’t as reviled and demonized as reality TV. In fact, it’s usually the opposite. Perhaps that’s because it’s less visible or its sins are less egregious, or there’s just a greater attention to craft, but either way, documentaries also have to be produced, and sometimes that means what’s on screen isn’t exactly reflective of reality.

Cracked has compiled a list of 6 Famous Documentaries That Were Shockingly Full of Crap. For example, it challenges an assertion in Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me that he ate 5,000 calories a day, and notes that college students who tried to duplicate his results didn’t suffer from the same physical problems. Cracked also challenges Bill Maher’s assertions that the Jesus narrative in the Bible was borrowed from earlier civilizations’ stories.

In one item, Cracked links to a CBC list of “notable nature documentaries where scenes were either staged or faked.” Among other things, that points out that Blue Planet had a scene of lobsters spawning that was filmed in an aquarium, and that the bird eaten by crabs in Winged Migration was actually rescued by the filmmakers, who then filmed crabs eating a dead fish.

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John Rocker

In its third episode, Survivor San Juan Del Sur improved significantly as John Rocker faced off against an Amazing Race villain. But the Exile Island reward challenge remains a drag on the series.


Why Dick Donato left Big Brother 13

Dick Donato

The Big Brother villain known as "Evel Dick" has finally revealed why he left the show during its 13th season: he learned he was HIV positive.

Also: Dick claims he had no choice but to leave the game.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.