Monday, December 19, 2005

Darwin Award Winner Unjustly Denied Prize

I am addicted to yet another show on the Discover Channel. It is called "I Shouldn’t Be Alive." It shows dramatizations and interviews with people who have faced deadly circumstances and have used cunning to overcome them. The first one I saw was the story of Chris Moon (Kidnap in the Killing Fields). Moon was a retired British military man volunteering in Cambodia as a de-miner. He and his colleagues were kidnapped by the Khmer Rouge, but Moon used his courage and wit to rescue his group. The next one (Jaws of Death) was the story of Greg Rasmussen, an Australian working to preserve African wildlife. Rasmussen displayed amazing strength and wisdom in his efforts to survive a plane crash in the middle of an African game preserve. In fact Rasmussen survived with no food, water, or radio in spite of his shattered legs and broken hips.

However, the next episode was about Saul and Larry (Swept Away). Saul and Larry decided to go on a kayaking trip through the San Juan Islands, in dangerous waters, in November. (Is this a good juncture to mention that the water in the Puget Sound is approximately 52 degrees in November… or that the waterway they picked to cross is famous for its forceful tides?) In a cascading series of awe-inspiringly stupid acts the kayaker who had NEVER been in a kayak before, Saul, ended up being swept out to sea (surprise). This forced Larry to abandon him in order to paddle to shore to mount a full scale rescue attempt. Eventually Larry’s only good decision resulted in Saul being rescued despite his best attempts to get himself killed.

While Moon and Rasmussen were thrown into life and death situations by volunteering to do remarkably selfless things in only moderately safe environments, Larry and Saul were thrown into their life or death situation by their overriding need to go to a nude hot-spring. They nearly died to ogle boobies. And they admitted so on national television. Furthermore, while Moon and Rasmussen used their smarts to get out of their situation, Saul (at least) made every wrong decision possible. He even admitted that he knew what the right decisions were but decided to gamble. Now if I acted like a complete bone-head and nearly got myself killed so that I could go to a nudie hot-spring, the last thing that I would want to do is have it dramatized on the Discovery Channel.

Which leads me to my point, which is that the Discovery Channel needs to have two survival TV shows. One should be called "I Shouldn’t Be Alive": the true stories of people who used wisdom and courage to survive life and death situations. The other should be called "I Don’t Deserve to Be Alive": the true stories of people who survive life and death situations in spite of themselves.

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