Who don’t love a little Shark Week, Caged in Fear, Science of Shark Sex (“It’s violent!”), Island of the Mega Shark and so on?
Tits and ass for lovers of nature’s freaks, essentially.
Every episode is dressed up in environmental bona fides while winking at its audience, we know you came for the splatterfest… now watch this bloodthirsty leviathan launch itself thirty feet in the air with a seal in its jaws! Oowee!
“At its best, Shark Week educates people about the most misunderstood animals on our planet while inspiring them to protect the ocean. At its worst, it perpetuates fear and misunderstanding,” huffs Wired’s David Shiffman.
Now, a new shot across the bow of the much-loved show with the revelation that “93.7 percent of experts were perceived by coders as white or white-passing”,
“79 percent of hosts/experts use he/him/his pronouns in online biographies or during the show.”
Can you believe?
The matter was brought into relief recently by research scientist Dr David Shiffman (@WhySharksMatter) and Dr Linda Whitenack, a biology and geology professor.
Neither dig Shark Week.
Among humans who appeared in more than 5 episodes of Shark Week, there were more guys named Mike who were not scientists than there were women.
Shark Week is marine biology’s biggest stage, and they can and must do better. Representation matters. #AES2021 #JMIH2021
— Dr. David Shiffman (@WhySharksMatter) July 22, 2021
In a harrowing long-form piece for Scientific American, Catherine Macdonald writes,
Women of color in shark science must deal with the intersecting effects of sexism and racism. Amani Webber-Schultz, a co-founder of MISS, shared that she chooses whom to work with carefully because, in the face of potentially violent racist threats, “I need to feel that whoever I am working for or with will have my back and stand up for me in situations where it is not safe for me to stand up for myself.” Alongside physical dangers exacerbated by race, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, age and level of power, overwhelmingly white and male scientific spaces send unwelcoming signals to students about who “belongs” and who is likely to be given the chance to succeed in shark science.
All shocking and important, are you an ally or are you complicit etc.