During Nik Wallenda’s tightrope walk between skyscrapers on Sunday, the Discovery Channel teased its next stunt: Eaten Alive. Though it’s not live, the Dec. 7 special is similar: an impossible, first-time-ever feat broadcast on television. With the little information that’s been released so far–just the two ads below and a one-sentence teaser web site–it should inspire a lot of skepticism, even though it’s also really intriguing.
A network representative told EW that it’s not a hoax, but the Discovery Channel’s decision to air fake documentaries as part of Shark Week has, for me, destroyed its credibility with this kind of thing. The network is perfectly okay with passing off fiction as scientific content; worse, its producing partners lied to scientists to get them to appear and then manipulated what they said to give credibility to the fiction, and then just vaguely dismissed concerns.
The person who was allegedly Eaten Alive (it’s already been filmed) is Paul Rosolie, the author of Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon. He seems to have credibility outside of this special, and the footage included in the brief promos does appear real. It may be.
Considering this appears to involve a real snake that will eat and then regurgitate a human wearing what looks like a space suit, PETA is, of course, pissed, saying, “Shame on this pseudo ‘wildlife expert’ for tormenting and likely killing an animal for a thrill, and shame on the Discovery Channel for giving him the incentive to do it.” Earlier, Rosolie tweeted, “I would never hurt a living thing.”
In one of the two promos below, Rosolie says, “I don’t expect anyone to believe us until we show it.” Except: it’ll be shown on the Discovery Channel, a network that has now established itself as one that’s okay with showing things that lie to its audience in order to increase ratings.