I am currently being reminded why I don't waste my money on cable television, or even a TV antenna for that matter.
I'm at my parents' house, borrowing their washing machine while they're out of town. (Hi Mom and Dad!). While the washing machine is running, I'm watching TV and have landed on "Weird, True and Freaky" on Animal Planet.
I was thinking that it would be an informative program about uncommon animals. Not in the least bit, at least not this episode. This is about wild animals who have wandered into human inhabited areas, cities, towns, etc. 'The most astonishing animal intruders."
The first segment showed a coyote who had found his way into downtown Chicago and took refuge in the beverage cooler in a Quizno's sandwich shop. While it was an odd situation, the way that the program portrayed the incident leads only to further misconceptions about wildlife.
Yes, it was odd that the animal would behave in such a way, and that the animal may have been ill and that illness may have caused it to behave in a way abnormal to its typical behavior. It is also true that any wild animal should be considered dangerous and should not be handled. However, this coyote is obviously NOT the bloodthirsty killer that the show portrayed it as.
What annoyed me was the repeated reminders that the coyote has "four inch long, razor sharp teeth capable of the same biting pressure of a leopard," and pointing out that the animal "loses control and goes into a rampage" as the animal control officer looped the catch pole loop around its head, the shortened video clips that have had added effects to make them more scary and the ominous music playing in the background.
The same held true for the next segment about some bats that had gotten stuck in an office building. "Who would want to share a cubicle with blood-sucking vampires?" Liberal use of three video clips add to the horror, especially the one of the lady swinging an umbrella and letting out a shriek as a bat flies around her office. What they don't show as often is the end of the clip where she ducks down under her desk with the umbrella above her head. Why not? Because she's obviously NOT terrified... She's - get this - laughing.
Another terrifying moment was the kangaroo running rampant in an Australian neighborhood. The 'roo escapes an attempt to net him "and when we slow down the footage you can see the moment of impact" when the terrified animal "sends an innocent child crashing to the ground." An innocent child, mind you, that should have been kept out of the way of the animal control officers so they could to their jobs. After all, if you watch close, the officer almost tripped over the kid and that's most likely what let the kangaroo escape in the first place, "shredding the officer's clothes" (read, tore the back of his shirt open).
So, basically this show may convince me to completely avoid watching Animal Planet ever again. Why such a firm stand on something that seems so trivial? This is just one example of the direction that our media has gone. Sensationalism is so much the norm now that it's becoming the "truth." If it's not sensational, the media will not cover it. There's nothing "exciting" about soldiers in the Middle East bring running water, electricity and sewage systems to communities who have never had such modern conveniences before. Nor is a truckload of books being delivered to a school that is now allowing girls to attend for the first time. Watch the news for a moment, however and you will be inundated with the number of attacks that have occurred agains our soldiers and the body count of innocent people who were killed in a suicide bombing of a local bazaar.
I believe that there HAS to be more good things happening throughout the wolrd every day that sould be reported. Wouldn't it be awesome if more people were exposed to good deeds than bad? What sort of impact would that have on the world if we were fed positive images, ideas and thoughts than negative ones? Could it not get more people thinking "hey, what could I could do make a difference?"
So stop for a moment and think: shouldn't it be newsworthy that little Jimmy helped Mrs. Jones cross the street or that the Smiths just baked a cake to welcome the new family into the neighborhood? How can we take back the media and create something positive?