America’s fascination with the t-rex of the sea has exploded into a cultural phenomenom.
Shark Week is upon us. In some circles, this one week in American television is more sacred than the Super Bowl, the World Series and the season finale of American Idol combined. That is because, since “Jaws” scared the bejeezus out of every beach goer in the last 37 years, Americans have been enthralled with the predators of the deep. People want to see these creatures hunt, feed and (let’s be honest) attack. That is all part of the allure Shark Week provides.
With the implement of Shark Week in July 1988, the Discovery Channel has satiated people’s thirst for the predatory fish once a year in a week-long block of programming. What began as a idea birthed over drinks by three Discovery Channel executives, has now become a television and cultural phenomenom with non-stop coverage spanning from feeding habits, to daredevil shark encounters, to just plain old documentary observation. And to the Discovery Channel execs pleasure, Shark Week has caused a frenzy among audiences of all ages.
Even celebrities have fallen prey to Shark Week’s alluring charm. From Tracy Morgan to Stephen Colbert, who has referred to Shark Week as being one of the holiest weeks of the year, American fascination with all things shark has been as consistent (and even as much look forwarded to) as Christmas. We often forget that celebrities are people too, but even with their fame status they are helpless to Shark Week’s snare. Some shows on the Discovery Channel’s annual block of programming even feature celebrities scuba-diving in shark-infested waters, and if it were possible for celebrities to dance with sharks, then Discovery Channel might explode with through-the-roof ratings.
The top reason for many non-swimmers out there, sharks have become larger than life itself with the glamorization of Shark Week. For some reason, fear has caused people to marvel with dedicated viewership at these animals that could easily mistake them for sea lions and rip them to shreds in an instant.
But is that not what the Discovery Channel aims for in its Shark Week programming, to facilitate education through awe-inspiring footage of great whites breaching in slow motion at a 1,000 frames per second? If this appeals to you in any way, then you need not second guess yourself as to where you will be this evening.
Shark Week is all week on the Discovery Channel. Perhaps you will think twice about that scuba trip this summer.