Cryptid Shows: Doing More Harm than Good?

CryptidComicCoverCryptozoology lovers are no doubt enjoying all the latest TV shows delving into the mysteries of monsters from all parts of the United States. Bigfoot, Swamp Beast, Saber Wolves and all the rest are fair game to these intrepid investigators. But is any of it real?

Like many of you I’ve been enjoying the latest rash of TV programs about the cryptids we love to think about. We have Destination America channel’s Mountain Monsters, Swamp Monsters, Alaska Monsters and the very popular Cryptid: Swamp Beast over on History Channel.  (Comic cover right; can’t read artist’s name but it’s there.)

I’d like to share with you my thoughts about these shows and my perceived problems with them, then get into whether they help or hurt the cause for serious investigation into these creatures.

Hunting Cryptid Formula

With the three shows on Destination America, Mountain, Swamp and Alaska Monsters we clearly see a formula. They tell us a little about the creature they’re hunting, they go interview some witnesses and look at some “evidence.”

For me, that’s the first problem. We never see the evidence long enough to be able to analyze it. We just get quick glimpses of what instantly looks like some computer generated image (CGI) but I for one would like more time to analyze these things.

AlaskaMonstersThen there is the “footprint” evidence they occasionally find. To a one, they are all flat images that look like someone took a stamp and squeezed it against the dirt. When real trackers find prints, there is rarely a uniformity about the impression. Why? Because animals are alive and moving. Even Bigfoot prints show unevenness, dug in toes or heels. But the images from these programs all show what I believe are impressed, that is manmade, footprints.

As far as finding hair and scat samples – they love pointing them out but NO ONE puts any into a Ziploc bag for laboratory analysis by some scientists later on. That’s an egregious error if done by people who are seriously on the trail of a cryptid creature. And that’s why I doubt they are serious.

Other Problems

So the hunt continues and they hear all sorts of things and get glimpses of even more ephemeral things in the woods and bayous.

MountainMonstersBogus Glimpses

The worst example (in my opinion) of this “seeing things” occurred in a recent episode of Alaska Monsters. They were hunting the Otterman/Kushtaka and the youngest member of the group was seen ahead of them, then disappeared. But then he turns up right behind them saying he was behind them all the time. The implication is that the image of him they saw was actually the “shape shifting” Kushtaka. Um hmmm. We all saw the guy walking in front of the investigators – it could have been anyone in the crew in the dark considering the shot was somewhat unfocused.

Creature Calls

In all three shows the “creature calls” are awful. They just sound “canned” like they came out of an amateur studio technician’s repertoire. I’m sure I even heard a supposed “Yeti” roar on that TV show, Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives that was also played on Mountain Monsters in one of their shows. The sounds were exactly alike!

It’s so bad that I don’t believe a single creature call that we “hear” in any of these programs.

Camera Men in Peril

Don’t you love all the shots of the investigators running from harm’s way, sometimes even getting in a car/ATV/whatever and we see them race away into the darkness? So what happened to the camera man left behind to film the getaway? Are we to seriously believe that if anything was really trying to kill the investigators, they’d leave their crew behind? Would anyone be that heartless? I doubt it.

cryptids_by_heavymetalartwork-d6oi4ibThose Traps

All these shows seem to delight in making a newfangled trap to catch the cryptid of the week. Maybe it’s a redneck thing, but I look at them and think what a waste of a tree. They all make a lot of assumptions about cryptids they never see when deciding what’s big enough or clever enough to hold them. I look at them all and think “Rube Goldberg.” (Artwork left by HeavyMetalArtwork on Deviant.)

The Investigators

I think across the board, the producers have found some very interesting and fun characters to host these shows. I mean some of them are really “out there,” wouldn’t you say? But they’re also endearing in their own weird ways and that’s one of the things I like about these shows.

I also think they’d love to actually find these things the same way that we’d love them to find the creatures. So I give them A for effort.

I would also love to see them all lose those horrible, dirty beards – ewwww!!! But that’s just me.

SwampMonstersWhat about the Hog?

You may be thinking that on the show Mountain Monsters they were delighted with themselves because they actually trapped a large hog. Yes, but it wasn’t a monster sized hog or a cryptid.

Here’s the thing about these wild boar/hogs. They are overrunning many parts of the southern US at this point. I think by this time in Texas they must be a plague. Hunters are shooting them as quickly as they can because these porkers are literally ruining the landscape.

So to catch a wild boar in one of the Rube Goldberg style traps, isn’t that exciting to me. It’s not a cryptid.

(not) Finding Bigfoot

The Animal Planet program Finding Bigfoot sort of follows this same formula, but for me the saving grace is they have a skeptical scientist on board to lend balance to the investigation, Ranae Holland.

FindingBigfoootThe other three investigators on the show, Bobo Fay, Matt Moneymaker, and Cliff Barackman at least try to approach the search somewhat scientifically. I know they get into some weird things like having disco lights at night in the forest, playing guitars, hog calling, but for the most part, their approach is fairly sound.

Speaking of sounds, I think the main problem with their investigation is that they make toooo many sounds! They make too much noise, do too much calling and wood knocking – surely that’s going to scare away a wild animal. But I guess it makes for good TV.

At least they cast any footprints they find and they scientifically gather any hair or scat evidence they think they find – and they get it tested.

I hope they do one day bring home the definitive proof that Bigfoot exists to the point where the scientific community agrees and classifies the beastie as a new member on our roster of known animals.

One annoying thing about this show (and to be fair, many other programs, especially the ghost hunting ones) is that when they hear a call in the distance or a knock, we can’t hear it. Do you mean to tell me that audio technology in this day and age isn’t able to capture the sound so the TV viewing audience can hear it too? It drives me crazy!

Help or Harm?

These shows help bring a variety of cryptid creatures to our attention that we otherwise may never have heard about. That’s very true in my own experience. In fact, I’ve really enjoyed researching some creatures I never heard about before and sharing my findings here in CryptoVille.

But my goal, my drive, is to find the evidence that these creatures actually do or don’t exist. If they do exist, then I want to see us find evidence that will convince the scientific community at large. Anything less is unacceptable.

SwordFrom reading reviews and comments about these shows around the web, I can tell you that these shows do a lot of harm. People that would scoff at us for trying to prove the existence of these creatures to begin with, find our efforts even more laughable based on the “findings” of these TV programs.

These shows seem to erode any credibility the cryptozoological community has. It’s a shame, but there isn’t anything we can do about.

Except – bring home the definitive evidence one and for all.

Gold Standard: River Monsters

I don’t particularly like fish and I definitely have never felt the need to fish. Yet this man has me watching his show. How did that happen?

GoliathJeremy Wade is the reason this program is so excellent (with kudos to his excellent team of cameramen & crew). Take him away and Animal Planet would make it into just another silly show.

It helps that he’s a trained biologist and a serious investigator. He’s logical, rational, and very intelligent. His shows begin with a problem or mystery and he sets about solving it. And he always does.

My favorite episode was the one where he searched for the Loch Ness monster; a two hour episode. It was masterful. As a lover of cryptozoology with an entire website dedicated to the topic, I can say I am utterly convinced he solved the mystery of the Loch Ness monster. It was a fascinating journey of discovery.

If you get a chance to watch it, do. Be sure to watch the two hour version, as Animal Planet put together a one hour abridged version (do they think we have short attention spans?!!!).

jeremy_wade.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterbox

 

Wade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He doesn’t build silly traps to catch his prey, he doesn’t rely on gimmicks like creature “calls,” and he always takes very good care of his crew. What he does do is educate us as the shows progress. We learn about fish biology, ecology, climatology, and even some sociology on occasion.

Quite a few times he’s started a show telling us about historical accounts of some creature of legend and folklore and then he goes and actually finds the fishy beast behind the tale. It’s incredible. I wish we could get him to look for Bigfoot!

So if you’re thinking of starting your own show about finding cryptids, this is the show to emulate.

Thumbs Up or Down

For now, these other cryptid shows are doing well which means lots of people are watching. I’m guilty of it myself, mainly because I like to hear about new creatures and also watching these guys go through their antics is often very amusing, not to mention mind boggling!

So what do you think about these cryptid shows? Do they do more harm than good?

13 comments

  1. I totally agree. Those “In search of ….” shows are everything you said. They don’t send the hair samples (that they put there! oh did I say that?) out to be analyzed, you hear a sound and they say, “that’s a bigfoot!” How utterly stupid do they think we are? And in the end, they never find anything, just waste my precious time. But Jeremy Wade is different. You are right. He has solved many mysteries digging out facts instead of fabricating them for ratings.

  2. I have one word to sum it all up: MONEY
    These programs are basically only for entertainment. They will do anything it takes to keep the audience coming back so they can keep raking in the sponsor’s cash. Even Jeremy wouldn’t be catching all these monster fish….which people have been doing for thousands of years, if there wasn’t a big check on it’s way. I will say he’s really good at it and I do enjoy watching his show but it doesn’t strictly fall into the “cryptid” category to me. These fish are all known species….but maybe not to the TV viewer in America.

    • Ella, I think Jeremy has introduced us to a whole world of animals that many of us never knew existed. So while not technically a cryptid show, some of his investigations start out with tales of folklore and legend that turn out to be real fish.

      Yes, money makes the world go ’round, as they say! Oh well! A lot of people keep watching, though, so they keep churning out the episodes. 🙂

  3. I think Mountain Monsters was one of those shows that should have seen 4 episodes and then quietly died because it was pretty funny but went too long and turned into more of a mockery. Cryptid: The Swamp Beast being entirely fake I think was neutral bordering on helpful for the sake of spurring interest. MonsterQuest is on the fence because it was serious at times and idiotic at others (I think that idiocy was the seed for these current shows).

    • Hi Brent! Thanks for your comments! That’s an interesting thought about the MonsterQuest show – I hadn’t looked at it that way before.

      Thanks for visiting CryptoVille! … Susan (CryptoVille)

  4. Yeah it’s funny you mentioned about mountain monsters trapping the hog,and if you’ve seen the episode about three wampis beast and they go to one of the trap builder’s farm Willy Lol he’s a hog farmer, and the one they trapped kinda looked like the one they got a close up on in that episode..though the show is amusing like the time wild bill said they needed a rock the size of a big ol rhino or “hippotasmunt” =hippopotamus lmfao.I still laugh bout that, and another thing if you’ve seen alot of their episode , there’s noway in hell every single one of those “monsters” are all in west virginia, yes they do go to ohio and i think north carolina once or twice , but id say 15 or so outta 20 or so episodes theyre always in west virginia lol if i was one of them and i truly believed all these creatures were real id be terrified to go in the woods Lol id be worried that id be scared outta camp by a howling “wolfman”,bumping into a “yahoo”then being picked up and dropped by a “snallygaster” then having my remains licked up by the “blood howler” (if that’s what it’s called) lol anyways thevpoint being its a fun show to watch but them not catching these things or evidence of em i believe its hurting the crypto field and i also agree about the finding Bigfoot show even though they’re more scientific about it, outta true whole time the show has been on the air they’ve never gotten any video evidence although they do gey slight knocks and distant howls cant hear em and i agree they make to much noise and i also believe they dont go far enough into the woods or wilderness what have you seems like they only go a couple hundred yards in or off a trail if bigfoots are as smart as they say they are theyre not gonna come toward u unless youre in their territory and i haven’t seen enough of the other 2 shows to comment but fron what ive seen It’s the exact same as mm think they even have the same band playing as on their show opening clips Lol anywho not downing the showd hell I’d be out there doing it too especislly if i was getting paid for it…anyway keep up the good work in the crypto world to those that are really searching for answers..

    • Thanks for your input, Sveren! I love your point about being out in the woods and suddenly you’re attacked by 3 or 4 of these West Virginia monsters! LOL!! It’s too crazy to even think about!

      Thanks for visiting CryptoVille! … Susan (CryptoVille)

  5. And I thought I was the only one seeing these shows in the same idiotic way over and over ! Cave monsters, WV with a different monster every week,ect,ect ect. Great article because you have the courage to help the hard researcher who wants science to look for new species and maybe question some of the cryptids that have a probability. Other wise we would never discover such creatures as the giant squid !

    • Thanks Stevie! That’s a great point about science “recently” finding the giant squid! Hopefully one day we’ll add Bigfoot to that list. 🙂

      Thanks for visiting CryptoVille! … Susan (CryptoVille)

  6. There is a different kind of monster hunting show playing on Destination America Oct. 24 “Killing Bigfoot”. Looks a no nosense show, might be better than the ignorant comedies they play now! These guys look serious.

    • Thanks for letting us know, Al. I hadn’t heard about it. I feel uneasy about their intent to kill a Bigfoot, though. Not sure how that is going to play out with Bigfoot and animal lovers. I guess time will tell!

      Thanks for visiting CryptoVille! … Susan (CryptoVille)

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