On the "fakeness" of nature documentaries


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/04/24/on-the-fakeness-of-nature.html

Watch: nature documentaries are phony

Here’s one I’ve been suspicious about for some time:


While I’ve seen penguins in the tropics I guess I never thought about them commuting.
I’ve snorkeled with them… they swim like a bullet.


“The ocean abounds with fearsome creatures, but none attacks its prey with more fury than the seaweed shark …”


There are penguins native to the Galapagos islands. They can be found on 4 continents, which just goes to show what great flyers they are.


Speaking of fake nature documentaries, did you know that the idea of lemmings killing themselves in mass migrations is a work of fiction, an utter lie?

Disney made it up using clever camera work:


I like Reggae Shark myself.


@beschizza looks like you and Mark posted the same video.

Interesting that 99%invisible just did a show on this -


24-hour stream of nature with no music or narration

Natural Dogme 95!


That would have been more enjoyable to watch without the crappy, canned muzak in the background.


Got a bad edit at 3:28.


The Galapagos 'guins are the only wild ones north of the equator … which makes for a good pub quiz question … and I’ve used it that way in the past :slight_smile:


I’m not sure I accept the assertion that nobody would watch nature documentaries if they were just a long list of facts about animals. I’m pretty sure that’s MOSTLY all they were in the 1970s (“Wild Kingdom”, “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau”) and I watched the f@#$ out of them.

Yeah “Wild Kingdom” may have manufactured some drama when it was time for a chase, but it was NOTHING like Planet Earth. I had to stop watching the latest series after a couple of episodes because I found the over-the-top anthropomorphizing of the animals so unscientific and distracting.


Just send in Jim for all the drama you will ever need.


Fake gnus!



While Jim is wrestling that Boa Constrictor, let’s talks about our sponsor Mutual of Omaha.


Having watched all of both series, I felt like the 2nd series had more ‘young animals getting away’ and also more sound effects with some of the smaller things. At times it was actually a bit distracting. A mouse running through some brush for instance had all these practically human sounds… I also had a similar feeling when watching the editing and humanization that took place for different interactions. It can feel contrived at times. I suppose that is what all of reality TV is doing. As long as it doesn’t ultimately misrepresent the info - and BBC is pretty good at not doing that - then I think it’s all pretty passable.


I couldn’t get past how jarring the “storytelling” painting was, intercut several times through the video. Sure, Mark Twain is a great storyteller, but who the heck paints him into a campfire scene with Ronald Regan, Teddy Roosevelt, Ben Franklin, et al. Just completely out of place.



I remember watching Winged Migration many years ago and everybody was oohing and ahing about the great photography (early drones, ultralights, etc). There’s a scene at 1:04:00 where there’s a poor birdie who ‘just happens’ to have a broken wing on a beach and is surrounded by crabs. All the sinister music is there but I couldn’t help wondering if it was a drone that collided with him and then suddenly I was wondering how many other birds had had collisions in the making of it. I guess you can’t make omelets without breaking eggs.