Shark Week Was Really Never About the Sharks

Slate in motion.
Aug. 21 2014 3:46 PM

Shark Week Was Never About the Sharks

Staged documentaries are bad, but decades of exploiting shark fears is worse.

Shark Week

The Discovery Channel once again faced rightful criticism this year for a faked documentary that aired during Shark Week. Buried in the popular scorn is the notion that Shark Week has declined—that the beloved annual series used to be about celebrating and protecting sharks.

Looking back on earlier iterations tells a different story. In reality, Shark Week has never really been about sharks—it’s about exploiting the public’s fearful fascination with them. And for Discovery, that’s certainly paid off.

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