Surely you're all aware of Mr. Bear Grylls and all of his crazy antics on Man VS Wild. He's probably the craziest tv survivalist going. Well, he was until the Discovery Channel fired him from their network recently. But that's not the point. The point is whether or not Grylls is actually as hardcore as he would like you to think.
It turns out that Bear has faked and staged plenty of his segments. To be fair, he has mentioned that he purposely sets up some scenarios so that he can demonstrate what to do in certain survival situations. But given that, just how accurate is he? Is he a good teacher? Does he know what he's doing?
There's no doubt that he's done some great and/or crazy things. He's scaled Everest. He's set a world record for having a formal dinner in a hot air balloon. He's eaten all manner of creepy crawlies and field-slaughtered animals. He's fallen through ice and escape. Stayed afloat down a roaring current. But how much of this is real survival? How much of it is tv fantasy?
15 Staying In Hotels Instead Of Roughing It
When Bear Grylls was meant to be roughing it out in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, he decided that there were better accommodations to be had. Instead of actually staying out in the wild, this hardened survivalist stayed in the comfort of a hotel instead, with his production crew. This isn't the only time that he's done this either. Versus-all gave the scoop on the Nevada incident though. "As it turns out, it wasn’t real. He wasn’t sleeping out in the elements, he was snuggled under blankets at the Pines Resort at Bass Lake, eating blueberry pancakes for breakfast." Imagine that. This guy was part of the SAS. He does all sorts of crazy things. But he doesn't really want to show survival, does he? Otherwise, he might actually stay out in the elements. Like Les Stroud.
14 Hawaii Beats Desert Island
There was once an episode that called for Grylls to be stranded on a desert island. It happens to people more often than I'm sure any of us would like to think. So it could be handy to learn about just what to do in case we're the next ones stranded. According to the New York Times, “In another instance, where Grylls was supposed to be surviving on a desert island, he was actually in Hawaii and spent nights at a motel.” How can you really demonstrate the cost of survival when you're living up the nights in paradise? The whole notion behind Grylls staying in hotels is apparently because he needs his energy for his stunts...but someone actually trying to survive won't be able to do that. Maybe he should actually face the wild sometime.
13 Faking Raft Building
Some of you might recall the time that Bear Grylls constructed a raft for some survival transportation. But I bet you know what's coming. It was faked! Well, ok, it wasn't fully faked. He did eventually build the raft. "Bear Grylls had a team assemble a raft for him. Then, like pouring salt in a wound, the raft was disassembled so that the camera crew could show Grylls assembling it on television," reports the New York Times. So, as I said, Grylls did eventually build the raft, but only after he watched it being built by his crew. If he really wanted to demonstrate survival, then he'd go through some trial and error. Maybe he's just really insecure and doesn't want to show any mistakes. But if he was really macho, he'd actually be hardcore and chance screwing up once in a while.
12 A Helping Hand Escaping Freezing Water
One of Bear Grylls' stunts took place out on a frozen lake. The whole idea was to show viewers how to escape from the freezing depths, in hopes that you avoid drowning and have a chance of escaping hypothermia. But there's something interesting that he and his producers might not want you to know. If you rewatch that segment and look carefully where he falls in, there are actually grooves carved into the ice for him to grab onto. Nature will not typically give you such a gift if you're unlucky enough to fall through the ice. You'll have to find your own way of getting a grip. I guess when you're a hardened survivalist you get to cheat every once in a while, just to make some cash from a stunned audience. I wonder if he could actually survive a real incident like that.
11 He Just Wants The Ratings
It's the interesting thing about Bear Grylls. He does come across as this macho SAS guy who just wants to show off how extreme he is, and how well he can survive in intense situations. But ultimately it's all about ratings. And it's pretty clear. After all, it's not likely that joe-blow-nobody is going to end up in a survival situation with the President of the United States. When Obama was still in office, he made an appearance on Man VS Wild. That, mixed with eating scorpions, gutting bison, jumping off cliffs, and swimming intense whitewater boost ratings in the same way that shows like Fear Factor do. So, basically, instead of a competitive game show of outrageous stunts, it's just one guy doing it under the guise of teaching tv viewers about survival.
10 Legal Animal Cruelty And Waste
You may have already learned that Bear Grylls has his animal combatants brought in from farmers and animal keepers. It's actually a legal issue, for the most part. It's typically illegal for Grylls to just go and kill a wild animal in the places he goes to. So they go to animal keepers who bring domesticated versions of the animals they want to feature. Like the gator that Grylls killed and ate. But he wastes so much of it. They pay to have the gator brought in. He cruelly kills it, then only has a few bites before going back to his hotel for a drink and a full meal. I wonder what would happen if Grylls was actually put into a survival situation. I don't know if he'd actually try and kill a gator. He'd probably rather get protein from elsewhere. Like what Les Stroud does.
9 He Lies About His Kit
I don't know if any of you have ever actually used the Bear Grylls Gerber knife...but don't. A friend of mine bought one because it seemed very practical and high quality. The first night he used it, the ferro rod fell apart. Speaking of his knife, Grylls claims that his kit only consists of knife, flint, and water bottle. What's interesting is how much extra gear he always seems to have. His water bottle doesn't have an attached steel cup, but sometimes you'll notice one kicking around. And that's not the only added kit gear to appear. Of course, it's easy to only carry those three items when you have a production crew right there with you to give you more if you need it. But he doesn't need it. He could get by with just that gear. Especially since Les Stroud has done it countless times.
8 How Do You Float Downstream? With A PFD!
Now, in a survival situation, the chances are that you're not going to have a life jacket on you if you slip down into a rushing stream. So when demonstrating a survival situation, showing people how to float when being carried off downstream, it would make sense to do so without a PFD right? Wrong, apparently. In this specific segment, there are certain points where, if you look carefully enough you can see the outline of a PFD underneath Grylls' clothing. How on Earth are you supposed to demonstrate how to float in a survival situation if you're going to cheat? I hope people don't try some of these stunts when they happen to be in a situation like that. They're more likely to drown than to make it to safety. Thankfully, "they all float down [there]".
7 Setting Up Stunt Scenes
I may have already compared Bear Grylls to Les Stroud a few times, but there is a very good reason for it. Grylls does a lot of crazy sh*t. Or at least it appears that way. But a good many of his stunts are supported by safety gear, a safety crew, and all manner of tame or relatively domesticated animals. Stroud has a safety crew as well, but they are always several miles away from whatever he's doing. He's had to call them in before, but otherwise, he does everything on his own. Any "stunts" he pulls, he sets up by himself. But when Grylls is jumping from this to that, or building one thing or another, or hunting or fighting one creature or another, every aspect of it is fairly strictly controlled. I wouldn't call that survival. And I think it's hard to demonstrate survival in those extreme conditions unless you actually capture it for real.
6 That "Wild" Horse Was Already Tamed
Obviously, this is not the actual horse that Grylls managed to tame...but to be fair, he never actually tamed a horse. In the Nevada episode where Grylls parachuted into the mountains, he had a segment where he showed how to get a handle on a wild horse. But here's the thing: he didn't just find wild horses...he had horses brought in and they were already tame. "Those wild horses were real, right? Nope again! Bear Grylls told us that after watching him coax a wild mustang, we’d know just what to do when faced with the same dilemma. But those horses were fake, too. They were real horses, but they were driven in from a trekking station nearby. They were trained horses," reports versus-all. Some survivalist.
5 Staged Animal Attacks
Everyone knows that Bear Grylls comes upon a ton of dangerous animals in his show. He's happened upon wild horses, bears, scorpions, snakes and plenty more. But here's the thing you might not have known...he doesn't just happen upon these animals. It's true that the areas he travels to do have these animals naturally. But the reality is that the ones he comes across have been brought to the scene of the shoot. Now, when wanting to demonstrate survival in extreme situations it does make sense to make sure you have that scenario. So it can make sense to bring in these animals. But that being said, when you're bringing in tamed or domesticated animals to show a survival situation...you're losing out on the danger factor that an average viewer might think doesn't exist now.
4 He Doesn't Scout The Areas Himself
Bear Grylls became the youngest Chief Scout. It was quite an accomplishment. I think the reason for it was simply based on his popularity from his show, but that's beside the point. What's interesting about this Chief Scout is that he doesn't bother to do any scouting of his own for his show. You'd think he would choose the locations, and learn a bit about them before diving into his show. Hell, people on vacation do more research about an area than he apparently does. I guess when you have a full production crew going ahead of you, it's easy not to care about the actual dangers of a given area. Les Stroud admits that he goes in ahead to scout areas, speak to locals, and learn about the flora and fauna. But he actually puts himself in dangerous situations.
3 His Followers Are In Danger
There's a commenter on a survival forum who pleads "Please please please watch Man v.s Wild instead of Survivorman. It will teach you a big lesson on surviving for real, like eating snakes and catching your meals with only your bare hands.P.S- Les doesn't do this dangerous stuff like Bear Grylls." Do you know why Les doesn't do that dangerous stuff? It's because when you're surviving for real, you don't want to put yourself in a more dangerous situation than you already are. So people like the above commenter have been taken in by someone who is ultimately a bad teacher. Bear Grylls gets wet in every episode, chomps down on some dangerous foods, and then goes back to his hotel to a nice full meal and a drink. He doesn't actually put himself in a survival situation.
2 Survivorman's Les Stroud Is A Bit More Real
There are good reasons to watch both of these guys do their thing. But those reasons are very different. If you want to watch some action-packed stunts, and what never to do when actually in a survival situation, then go watch Bear Grylls' Man VS Wild. But, if you want to watch someone who actually throws himself into a survival situation, with limited gear, and a ton of camera crap to drag around on top of everything else, then watch Les Stroud's Survivorman. He's certainly far more realistic in his approach. And he tires himself out more than the average person in the same situation because he films everything himself. Climbing and swimming all over the place to get some good shots. Grylls just jumps in, gets wet and dirty, jumps out, the director says cut, and they get a drink.
1 He's Never Really In Danger
So, here's the thing. Bear Grylls is hardly ever actually in danger. I mean, sure, when he falls through the ice he stands the chance of his heart going nuts and then he just wouldn't end up pulling himself to safety, but there is a whole safety crew there to pull him up if he doesn't get his stunt right. He eats some nasty things, but it's all safe. He doesn't stumble upon a rotting sheep corpse in an Irish bog. His crew hires a shepherd to slaughter a lamb and leave it there for him to "find". And since it's fresh, it's totally safe for Bear to have for a little snack. Maybe the most dangerous situation he's ever been in is when parachuting because there's really not much anyone can do if things fail. Everything else is fairly controlled and scripted.