It comes every year with the same half-kidding therapeutic post-macho cachet that James Bond week used to carry in the late 90s. We never have to worry what's on--no matter where we are- what to have as background, what will chill us out before going off to a date, or put us in the mood while canoodling at the Ramada, or cooling our stressed brain and body after work or a workout or a beat-down, or a fascist rally, or a night on the town, whatever we disenfranchised Straight White Men aged 20-50 need to recover from. (I mention that demographic because most of the commercials during shark week feature 20-something white males with beard stubble or a dog and khakis, like the hilarious Independence Day-Twizzlers tie-in, or the smug endomorph talking about how car buying was always supposed to be). We may be on the way down, forced or eager to watch as our massively dominance is stripped down by fractions, but we're still number one on the top ten most-dangerous, biggest bite-radius countdown! Heil yeah, boyy, we're worse than lionfish, or sargassum. Say, anyone still listen to Kid Rock? I've noticed ZZ Top have sashayed their way out of the valley of oblivion (between the 'new charts' and the 'retro-cool' lurks the valley). That Blake Lively is a real honey and supposedly rocks it in THE SHALLOWS at a theater in a mall in a town near you!
Do you have a time to fill out a small response card based on your reaction to my previous paragraph? Don't try to escape me, dear reader, for millions of years of evolution have made my fins react with lightning speed to the tiniest glimmer of consumer attention. Aus Kommen der Hai Woche!
Shark week: Now that we all have giant HD TVs of the sort our ancestors only dreamed about, the deep blues like a 3D aquarium, Shark Week is the best next thing to being there, on some gorgeous remote Australian beach, pink sand and waves lapping from clear aquamarine slowly into deep indigo and purple--wait, purple? Where is all the red coming from to mix with the.... Oh right, your leg's missing. Shark week! And with at least two channels (DISC and NGEO - where it's called 'Sharkfest' and boasts of being #2 in the shark programming marathon biz), I like to pretend my TV is a window into the pool behind my James Bond villain lair; the camera man in the water with the sharks was dropped in there through a secret door because the one thing SPECTRE will not tolerate is failure!
Shark week: It has such a great name one loves to say it, to think it, to feel it to see it, to reflect of the surface so all shoals can sea flit. Shark Week. It used to be just a hodge podge of dull oceanographer's tagging and mapping trans-oceanic migrations to see what motivated sharks to attack humans and move to shallow water, that and AIR JAWS, which was three or four great "strikes" of a whale sized Great White breaching up and clomping down on a stack of fish flavored tires suspended from the air, over and over, which is bound to be aggravating for the shark - and certainly was for us the viewers, for it was shown nonstop. But the whole week has been getting better every year, with shit aimed so close to me and my people (the stoned white people of a certain age group) that it's like Discovery been reading our mail, or hiring our buddies to fill the need, and every year shit gets wilder. Ever year there's more cool shit aimed so precisely at my demographic that I feel like I'm getting high with the people who made them. Now Eli Roth hosts shark talk shows, Andy Samberg does weird trickster post-modern count-downs, SHARK CITY chronicles the daily food chain in and around a sunken freighter and--my favorite so far--SHARKS OF THE SHADOWLAND, and its trio of badass New Zealand government conservationist divers, subjecting themselves to the ceaseless group attacks by weird-looking sharks called sevengills, all in the name of battling sea weed plagues, like finally it's a real danger and something's at stake other than the usual marine biology-cloaked quest for footage. New Zealand, where official government conservation teams are two cool Kiwis with dreads and a cute girl with a North American accent. I love these guys!!
Knowing at least one government is chill and keeping it pristine really cheers me up, because I've been suffering from too much excess empathy for our imprisoned creatures and the natural world as trashed as I am, writing lots of stuff that I can't seem to finish. I just keep making longer, and longer and always it winds back around to my personal issues, the various dead ends of middle age and the realization of being everything that's holding the world back from utopia, The Great White... Straight... American... Male. Being the worst. I'm the Ahab of the future Waterworld, the broken consul passing out under the Yellowstone Super Volcano, I only know of one place that hasn't heard of my kind of empathy-plagued freak, the deep ocean, where the Great White and the Bull shark still think they're King frickin' Apex Kong. Time to fuck 'em up, with cameras and research and tags, like we're the grey aliens this time leaving implants and making excuses for messing with out minds.
SHARK WEEK. I hate summer in general -- to disgusting in the city, too buggy in the country. I'm 50% Swedish, so I've never loved summer except for the air conditioning and occasional body surfing. But I do like to 'visit' via the transdimensional consciousness that is HD TV these days. TCM often fritters away the after school slots of the week with saccharine musicals from the post-code era, so white and bland you can feel the PBSD (Post-Boredom Stress Disorder) of a generation of captive Sullivans and children dragged to these drecks by churchmarms who just love that couple of nonthreatening squeaky kids puttin' on a show musicalzzzz, the type so white and fascist innocent they make Judy and Mickey putting on a show seem like CABARET.
So if you're a gloomy Swede with a dark sense of humor you need something else, to cool down from der werkaus. Too tired to surf you find something with some bite that's not going to trojan horse in bad vibes (like the news), something so you can detox and soak up a kind of sense memory vacation. This one magic week, you can flip to at least two different channels in the Discovery package and BOOM - you're out of the city, out on the ocean, swimming with the big boys and don't have to smell any chum or brine or get sea sick or bored and feeling trapped -- waiting for your drunk friends to be ready to head back, finally - when you're climbing out of your skin.
Take a trick I learned from JK Huysmans--if you fool the sense of smell then the other senses fall in line to sustain any illusion. So what I do is put a dab of cocoanut suntan lotion under my nose, sit where I can catch some rays of sun through the window, and put on the show, seeing the HD water and giant creatues swimming therein, you might suddenly feel the ocean beneath you or around you, that bobbing and drag forward and back of the waves, as you lay back on the couch and let yourself drift into a nap, the sharks are there, for your protection, eating anyone who tries to remind you you're not Australian, and it's trash night... and dishes... and commercials showing us starving kids in Africa one minute and factory farming atrocities the next, not getting the realization that the two cancel each other out - you can't save both. That's what we need the sharks for, chum! Oops, see I went there again, urban socialist environmental angst boiling over, all this excess projected empathy for the suffering - I can't get the suffering of "Sophia in the shoe" out of my brain, useless empathy suffocating me, the exhaust fumes of my futile rage weakening the senses of my zen coordination, so once again it's time to paddle back and back against the tide, to the Shallows, to the Blue Sea, to the Shark Week.. the next red you see won't be anger.... because if they're showing endangered shark eco-atrocities one one channel, the other one's gotta have Eli Roth showing shark attack re-enactments and the thought of anything eating us back cools my rage like a blast of Swedish night.
|Blake Lively, coaxing my demographic into the theater to see THE SHALLOWS.|