The headline of the Daily Mail screamed, “Should’ve called it Michael Phelps vs a ‘Computer Generated Simulation’: Viewers left incredulous, confused and disappointed after Olympic legend fails to actually race a Great White during Discovery show.” That prompts me to want to write up a follow-up headline: “What in the World is Wrong with People?”
Personally, I was left incredulous that a significant amount of people were surprised by the fact that Discovery Channel did not put the world’s most decorated Olympian in the open water right next to a man-eating Great White Shark. It’s not like these prehistoric predators can be tamed and domesticated. And how, pray tell, did these brilliant viewers think Discovery was going to get the water monster to swim the straight path to the finish line?
The King of the Sea isn’t going to be enticed by television hype; he just wants to rip up flesh and move on. Short of dangling a maimed and bleeding Ryan Lochte just past the checkered flag, it’s not as though the Great White would have had any reason to “race” Michael Phelps. Yet there were apparently mentally deficient human beings who couldn’t seem to process these realities and were left fuming when the program pitted the 23-time Gold Medalist against exactly what sane people would have expected: a computer-generated hologram scientifically constructed to replicate the speed and agility of a Great White.
Here were some of the incensed reactions:
“Call me crazy but I thought they were gonna put Phelps up against a real shark not a simulation. I feel robbed.” – Meg Conley (@MegDownSouth)
Okay, Meg, you’re crazy. Legitimately crazy. Anyone who thinks (1) that any shark would understand they were supposed to “race” a human, (2) that any human being would be stupid enough to plop down right next to a Great White and assume that the beast was just there for the competition, (3) that any major television network would subject itself to the liability associated with being the reason the world’s most adorned Olympic champion was graphically dismembered on live television is 100% crazy.
“Uh Michael Phelps not racing a real shark was a scam.” – Scummy (@skeetwoodmac666)
No, it wasn’t. It was exactly what a stable, well-balanced, functioning member of society would have expected.
“I didn’t sit here for an hour to watch Michael Phelps race an animated Great White shark.” – Logan Frederick (@LFred49)
Actually, apparently you did, which is why you’re now complaining about it. And I’m not sure why. The show was fascinating as scientists took measured readings of various sharks in predatory mode, created a shark-skin wetsuit and remarkably realistic fin for Phelps, and scientifically demonstrated the inordinate speed and quickness of the Great White by showing how even the greatest human swimmer in the world falls 2 seconds short in a 100 meter sprint. The program was thoughtfully designed, well scripted, graphically impressive, and professionally produced. It was vintage Shark Week.
But this is the sorry state of our society’s entertainment-addled minds – if they don’t drop a 20-foot, 2,000 pound Jaws in lane 2 of a chlorine pool, wearing goggles and a swim cap, outrage ensues.