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Published On: Wed, Aug 7th, 2013

Fake ‘Shark Week’ causes Facebook, Twitter backlash while Wil Wheaton calls it ‘disgusting’

Like the Loch Ness Monster, Abominable Snowman, and Big Foot, a living version of the prehistoric 60-foot Megalodon shark is more fiction than fact.

The Discovery network’s new Shark Week “documentary” would have people thinking differently as the shw presented the Megalodon as fact.

shark week promo bannerThe network kicked off its annual Shark Week television series with a show called “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives,” which claims that the finned predator could still be swimming the ocean’s depths. However, no scientific evidence proves the creature’s existence.

In fact, rather than real footage or actual scientists, Discovery apparently fabricated its Megalodon “evidence” and had actors play the “scientists” interviewed for the show, according to Discover magazine. In its promo commercial for Shark Week (see below), Discovery stages a bogus news event where a rescued seal gets snapped up by a mega-toothed shark.

A fake documentary from a science-based network has drawn fervent criticism from viewers across the Web and on social media.

Discover magazine’s Christie Wilcox wrote that the show’s “evidence was faked, the stories fabricated, and the scientists portrayed on it were actors. The idea that Megalodon could still be roaming the ocean is a complete and total myth.”

Wilcox wrote that “You used to expose the beautiful, magical, wonderful sides of the world around us. Now, you just make (stuff) up for profit. It’s depressing. It’s disgusting. It’s wrong.”

At the end of the special, Discovery aired three disclaimers. Discovery said that none of the institutions or agencies that appear in the film is affiliated with it in any way. The network also said that “though certain events and characters in this film have been dramatized, sightings of ‘submarine’ continue to this day.” Discovery would not say what events that referred to.

“Megalodon was a real shark,” Discovery told viewers. “Legends of giant sharks persist all over the world. There is still debate about what they may be.”

On Shark Week’s Facebook page and across Twitter, hundreds of people have shared their disgust with the program.

“Shark week is officially a disgrace after airing that fake documentary,” said one Facebook user, while another wrote, “I don’t believe anything I see anymore on Discovery. So disappointing. Discovery, you’ve thrown away your equity and credibility with one stupid mockumentary. Congrats.”

Similar chatter has also filled the Twittersphere. At the same time, actor and blogger Wil Wheaton ranted about the show on his blog.

“An entire generation has grown up watching Discovery Channel, learning about science and biology and physics, and that generation trusts Discovery Channel,” Wheaton wrote on Monday. “Someone made a deliberate choice to present a work of fiction that is more suited for the SyFy channel as a truthful and factual documentary. That is disgusting, and whoever made that decision should be ashamed.”

Ratings appears to be the motivation as the fake “documentary” raked in 4.8 million viewers.

“We have found that people are open to exploring different ideas and concepts in addition to the more traditional fare that we air,” Discovery spokesperson Laurie Goldberg told the Associated Press. “That would explain the ratings. As in any entertainment, you aren’t going to always please everyone, but we stand behind all of our content and are proud of it.”

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