Monday, April 14, 2008

Survival Showdown: Les Stroud vs. Bear Grylls

If you watch TV, you've probably been exposed to either Man vs. Wild or Survivorman in some sense. Both are shows that feature wilderness survival experts doing what they do best... surviving in the wilderness. But how do these survival experts and their shows compare?

Man vs. Wild

The Host:
Bear Grylls is the host of Man vs. Wild. His Wikipedia page lists him as a British mountaineer, adventurer, author, television presenter and motivational speaker. It fails to mention that he isan asshole. He has very few friends and a deep psychological need for the attention he thinks he deserves. He created his own page's "Feats and Record Attempts" section on Wikipedia in hopes of persuading women to sleep with him and young children to adore him. Most of these feats and records are made up.

It is widely recognized that Bear Grylls drinks his own urine for the taste, rather than out of necessity, and enjoys smearing his flesh and clothing with feces. That's not dirt in the picture up there...

The Show:
Man vs. Wild is based on the premise of exploiting Bear Grylls' need for attention to film extraordinary feats of survival in extreme locations. The MvW production crew scouts out dangerous looking locations near heavily touristed areas (Bear demands that he sleep in a five-star resort every night), and scripts out a plausible story about the dangers of the area. Bear convinces the viewer that he is indeed in a dangerous location, and usually attempts to point out that if you were to try what he is about to do, you'd die.


The Host:
Wikipedia credits Survivorman's host, Les Stroud, as a Canadian musician, film maker, and survival expert best known as the host of the television program Survivorman. Despite being Canadian, Les Stroud is an intelligent, articulate and talented individual. Unlike Bear Grylls, he is a true man of the wilderness, evidenced by the fact that he does not regularly wax his chest. Les is also a musician and a filmmaker.

The Show:
Survivorman is based on a simple premise: one man, Les Stroud, knows how to survive. Anything. Unfortunately, the show is usually limited to Les' feats that don't break societally accepted notions of what is possible. I don't know if the "Seven Days on the Moon without Air" episode will ever be unleashed upon the world. Typical episodes are centered on Les surviving alone in the arctic for a week, Les surviving alone in a swamp in Georgia, and other similarly harsh and uninviting environs. Les always travels alone, and carries an extra 50+ pounds of camera gear to ensure that the survival situations are real, and you get a first hand look at what it takes to live through such an ordeal.

Summary & Conclusion:
Survivorman is the real deal. Les Stroud has been verified by Ripley's Believe it or Not to have turned water in to wine. Man vs. Wild is a joke and Bear Grylls pees on his clothes so he can savor the aroma for days to come.

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