Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dear Animal Planet

I remember watching you as a teenager. It's true, I was there in the beginning. Lassie and Flipper were your mainstays and I loved you for it. Really. I even watched your version of Lassie with eagerness. So please know that this comes from a place of love.

It is about the animals. I know you decided a couple years ago to get all gritty and edgy. Fine, I was with it. You were producing animal cop shows faster than CSI and Law & Order. That says something. You were with it, hip, cool. While I tired of all the cruelty and abuse we inflict upon our fellow non humans, I looked forward to your new productions and line-up.

But then something strange happened.

You changed your logo, for one thing. Instead of an elephant trumpeting to a blue earth, you went modern on me. You don't even have an animal in your logo, and your "m" is just ridiculous. That isn't avant-garde, it's just weird.

Then you added shows like River Monsters. RIVER MONSTERS? A show about an overly tan, white dude who travels around the world, sinking hooks into unsuspecting fish mouths. There is nothing redeeming about this show. If I wanted to watch a giant fish get tortured, I'd sign myself up for the Outdoor Channel. I don't care about monster fishes, and let me tell you something: Having white dude in spooky flashlight-under-his-chin-lighting telling me never to go swimming in some Indonesian catfish-infested river is not only NOT frightening, it's melodramatic and laughable.

Don't even get me started on Monsters In Me.

You can do better.

And in some ways, you have. I admit I'm a fan of Whale Wars, even if it is painful to watch (and I'm not even talking about the harpooning scene you insist on showing every. single. friday...stop it already). I like It's Me or The Dog as a nice alternative to a certain quietly communicating "dog trainer". I even like that show that transforms unwanted pups into adoptable doggies and has a construction man build outdoor dog palaces.

But! Then you had to ruin my enjoyment of your channel in two, evil ways.

1) Dogfighting. Enough already. Here's a suggestion for your next Animal Planet Investigates program: People who dress their dogs up in halloween costumes. I'm available for an interview. Stop with the grotesque, evil, ugly footage of dogs tearing each other apart. It's not being used for any meaningful educational purpose. You're just sticking it in there because you can, not because you care. At least that's the impression I'm getting. I tried watching five minutes of your Gang Dogs program and knew, right off the bat, that the entire program would be chock-full of felonious, brutal dog fights and no redeeming qualities. I turned it off.

2) Surprisingly human? It's not about Pit Bulls? It's not about whales? It's not about rescuing dogs? Are you for reals? Every single episode of, say, Whale Wars, is about whales. While shows, like Pit Boss, have side-stories, I'm pretty darn sure the people rescuing Pit Bulls feels it's about Pit Bulls. And the crazy lady with like 27 dogs who gets them transported to new homes? It's about rescuing dogs. Making it about humans does allow shows like that cowboy program which isn't at all about animals and all about people profiting off of them. But is that what you really want to sell?

Dogs in cow costumes - way cooler. I speak only the truth.

So, please Animal Planet, please go back to your less evil ways. You can be gritty and edgy without shows like River Monsters and Monsters in Me (it's a monster-mash-up). I believe it! Drop the "surprisingly human" motto, it's just rude. Yeah, we're animals too, and yeah, these stories hold an intrinsically, fascinating human element...but I want a channel called Animal Planet to have more non humans in it than humans..

I will even take a re-run of Lassie or two.

Thank you for your consideration,

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