Thursday, 31 March 2011
Ok so this entry may seem a little odd in comparison with my usual themes but I strongly believe it must be addressed. Last night I sat down to watch four episodes straight of Deadliest Catch. For those of you who do not know, it is a discovery channel reality show about crab fishing in the berring sea. Yes, I know what would a girl who spends her days in metropolitan life and material consumerism want with a bunch of burly men out at sea catching crab? The answer: everything!
If someone were to read the basis of this show or even sit down and watch it for half an hour they would probably make a rather confused face. Asking themselves the questions: "Why would people watch this?" "How can it be up to a seventh season?" "How is this at all entertaining?"
I am going to attempt to answer these questions and tell you why everyone should give this show a chance despite their background, gender, interests and perceived conceptions of reality tv.
On the surface this show seems pointless: fishermen out on the ocean making a living catching crab, each episode being the same deal. Under the surface this show is more than educating the populous about a dangerous occupation it is in essence a study of the human condition. It takes a certain man to take on this deadly Berring sea and it is often this strong character which is at the forefront of the show. These men face death almost everyday. There they are on their rather small boats in comparison to the raging white waves that crash 30 feet across their deck, they tackle the harshest weather conditions while they physically work literally without sleep. Hardly resting, barely eating and always, always in the worst of working conditions. They do this more often for the love of it, for the tradition; it is in their blood. Sometimes, they do it simply to provide for a family or because they are unemployed. But no matter the reason they truly are an elite group of men.
Now, I probably still haven't sold any of you non believers yet, so read on.
As a woman watching this show, I am all the more aware of the differences between the two sexes. Not in any way trying to belittle my sex, the truth of the matter is: we are not built for such activities. I believe both physically and mentally we simply could not hack it. Women: imagine spending months together on a boat in confined spaces, little hygience, no luxuries and lack of sleep in unbearable weather as you rally together day in day out trying to get by. Now, if you are honest, this doesn't paint a pretty picture, nor does it paint one of peace. We women are wired differently. Most of us (if we choose to admit it) gossip, we bitch about others and we sometimes resent them, the cliques form and boundaries are created, we mull over said words. For men argument, is on the whole more straight forward. Unrest is caused, voices are raised, punches are made and the argument concludes. A manly embrace and a drink is bought. That is it. For these men, grudges cannot exist, unity must be there in order for a deck to function; women would not let it go.
I am portraying these men to be rather barbaric, without feeling or even sense but I am here to tell you they are everything but barbaric. These are men with the strongest of morals, with passion, men of comradery, honour and valour. Now I am making them sound like fictional romance heroes, they are not (no man really is) but they are gentlemen in their own right. They stand by and help their fellow man, they provide support when a friend is at breaking point (whether that support comes from friendly banter, a solid man hug or a lecture of tough and truthful words) and they fight through it all no matter how dire the situation.
What sets this show apart from any other reality tv is just that: the realism is (excuse my obvious word) real. Other reality shows are set out to create entertainment rather than simply be what it is. There is an end game, a prize. People are put in artificial situations outside of their actual lives. Even the Kardashians are not exactly real, they set out to show their viewers a good time, it is an exaggeration of their lives. There is no room for pretend in Deadliest Catch. This is their lives, there is no other motive, there is no purpose other than to do what they must. Yes, maybe the cameras could somewhat alter their words but in essence we are watching people's daily routines, we are seeing reality in its' truest form.
Last night's episode saw a very experienced and great captain fall to a deadly stroke. This event brought fear and concern in the crab fishing community. A fellow captain who I always saw as a pillar of strength, a man worthy of being called a man broke down in tears. Someone who was never lost for words had failed to say them, a man who showed no weakness was unable to stand tall. These are things you cannot fake, emotions too real to be created.
Deadliest Catch has everything integral to entertainment: drama, action, conflict, cliffhangers, aesthtics, suspense, emotion and heck even romance (I may be pushing it) but it is there, maybe not between humans as such but definitely romance in the objectional sense, a romance between man and nature, a deep connection between how the sea provides and the passion that ignites with man.
So I hope I answered some questions. It is entertaining because it is real, it has longevity because the people and relationships mean something to the eager viewer, we become attached, we begin to care. It is relevant because we can all learn from others, from those stronger than us, from those with a different path than us.
This show is the perfect portrayal of the human race. It highlights our greatest strengths. It proves how much we band together in the face of adversity, how much we care for our fellow mates and how much our bodies and minds can endure for a life worth living.