I’ve mentioned in this space in the past that “River Monsters” is not my favorite show. I think that’s because I’m too into fishing, and look at it with an angler’s eye instead of the eye of non-fisher folk who tune in purely to be entertained. My biggest gripe was always that the fish made out to be man-eating “monsters” are no monsters at all. Apparently, I’m not the only one that felt this way, because writer Kyle Hill over at Scientific American recently published an open letter to Animal Planet about how he can’t stand the “demonization” of these fish. And guess what? Host Jeremy Wade himself answered.
You can read the entire letter from Hill, plus Wade’s response here. But just for a point/counterpoint highlight:
Hill: Here is a list of the descriptive words you chose to use in episode titles for River Monsters: killer, man-eater, assassins, flesh-eaters, demon, death ray, horror, predator, mutilator, flesh ripper, chainsaw predator, electric executioner, slayer, mauler, face ripper, killer torpedo, slasher. I understand that the show takes unexplained deaths and attacks and investigates them, but you are turning these typically harmless fish into actual monsters.
Wade: …people should have a healthy fear of these fish — in certain circumstances. But this is not the same thing as demonizing them. The fact that I put the fish back into the water conveys a very strong message, which most of the audience instinctively understand. I say this because out of all the hundreds of mails I’ve received, only a handful have been along the lines of: “Why did you put that man-eating fish back in the water?”
It’s a pretty interesting exchange. Let me know what you think.