River Monsters: Hollywood vs Reality

I just finished watching the season premiere of one of my favorite shows, River Monsters. During the show, it occurred to me that many of the same critical thinking skills that we apply in our class are also utilized by Jeremy Wade, the host of the show.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with River Monsters, the show is about a marine biologist/extreme angler who travels the world in search of exotic species of fish. Each show plays out as somewhat of a mystery with Wade trying to narrow down the species of fish that he is looking for. He starts by gathering newspaper headlines, stories from villagers, and other anecdotal pieces of evidence that all pertain to a certain river monster. He then has to decide what fact is, what fiction is, and what exaggerated truth is.

The process that he goes through during the show reminded me a lot of the way we decide how scientifically accurate a movie is. In all of the movies we have watched, there have been bits of fact, fiction, and exaggerated truth. In the Day After Tomorrow for example, many of the events that occurred in the film were accurately depicted; however the timeline was greatly exaggerated. In The Happening, there was a great deal of fiction with a few facts mixed in.

It is also interesting to see how the network produces River Monsters, a scientific show at its core, in a Hollywood style. As one might imagine, a show about fishing would not be very entertaining to the average viewer. With the correct editing and dramatic musical cues however, the show becomes much more interesting. The show is really a perfect microcosm of our class. It has plenty of scientific information, but it packages it in such a way that one may need to filter out the Hollywood cues at times.

I would highly recommend that anyone in the class watch this show and analyze it as we analyze our films. It is fun to see that the critical thinking skills we are learning in class can be applied in other areas.

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