The Discovery Channel’s Eaten Alive has faced controversy ever since the concept of the show was first brought to the attention of the general public. The premise of the show involves Paul Rosolie, an American naturalist and conservationist, tracking down a 20 foot long anaconda on the Amazon River, slathering himself in pig’s blood, and getting the huge snake to devour him while a team of ten people, including his wife and those filming it, watch. So just your typical Friday night…
Rosolie wore a special carbon fibre suit to protect himself and also the snake’s insides during the, er, process. As you can probably guess, animal rights groups and also anyone who is a decent human being were not pleased with the premise of this show.
Unfortunately (… fortunately?) the stunt did not work out quite as planned. Now people are both displeased at the fact that this even happened but also the fact that it didn’t even work after all the hype surrounding it. In the two hour special which aired on Sunday night on Discovery, the anaconda had begun to eat Rosolie’s helmet when he decided to call his team for help, saying his arm was getting crushed.
Naturally, aggravated viewers took to Twitter to convey their disgust at the show not delivering what it apparently promised. I use the word “apparently”, because technically neither Discovery nor Rosolie said that he would actually be eaten alive. In advertising and press statements leading up to the show’s airing, Discovery used statements like “enters the belly of an anaconda” and that it was an “attempt” to get eaten alive.
— Zak Bagans (@Zak_Bagans) December 8, 2014
Obviously rooting for the snake #EatenAlive
— Amy Kaufman (@AmyKinLA) December 8, 2014
— BarstoolTrent (@BarstoolTrent) December 8, 2014
Even PETA's mad about #eatenalive bait and switch. Seriously, there's a statement:"She was forced to constrict and then not allowed to eat."
— vernejgay (@vernejgay) December 8, 2014
EW has gotten their hands on a statement from Discovery containing the following:
“Paul created this challenge to get maximum attention for one of the most beautiful and threatened parts of the world, the Amazon Rainforest and its wildlife. He went to great lengths to send this message and it was his absolute intention to be eaten alive. Ultimately, after the snake constricted Paul for over an hour and went for his head, the experiment had to be called when it became clear that Paul would be very seriously injured if he continued on. The safety of Paul, as well as the anaconda, was always our number-one priority.”
Yes, because what boils down to essentially abusing wildlife to gain attention for threatened wildlife always makes people take you seriously… PETA has also expressed their disgust at the show’s premise and what went down:
“The animals were removed from their water habitat and transported to a filming location, and the chosen snake was deceived into using her precious energy reserves to constrict a human being pretending to be a pig, all for a publicity stunt … Paul Rosolie and his crew put this snake through undeniable stress and robbed her of essential bodily resources. She was forced to constrict and then not allowed to eat. Study after study has shown that entertainment features such as this one that show humans interfering with and handling wild animals are detrimental to species conservation. Rosolie knows this. Discovery knows this. Yet they chose to contrive and air this shameful stunt for ratings anyway.”
I think it’s safe to say that pretty much everyone is disgusted at the fact that someone pitched this idea, someone approved it and it was actually carried out (somewhat) for entertainment purposes. Hopefully Rosolie has learned his lesson about trying to get eaten alive by a ginormous anaconda and won’t try any similar “awareness raising” publicity stunts for the Amazon Rainforest anytime soon.