When environmental writer and activist Paul Rosolie said he would allow himself to be eaten by an anaconda on a Discovery Channel special aptly named "Eaten Alive," animal rights activists, scientists and yours truly were pretty horrified. Not only was the premise of the program utterly unscientific and sensationalistic, the main stunt would also likely amount to animal cruelty (how would they rescue Rosolie when he was eaten?).
My colleague Lindsay Abrams actually spoke with Rosolie, who seemed sincere in his motives-- his justification seemed to be, as Abrams put it, "come for the drama, stay for the important message about conservation." Based on Rosolie's sweet, sincere demeanor, I assumed that the special would likely involve Rosolie and his team getting really close to being eaten and then deciding, 'These creatures are majestic symbols of biodiversity--better leave them alone.'
But when the special finally aired last night, it became clear that this hope was naive. Not only did the program abstain from delivering an important message about conservation (namely, that animals don't exist for our entertainment), but Rosolie also just plain chickened out from the task.
Variety's television columnist Brian Lowry describes Rosolie's encounter with the snake as such:
The main event, not surprisingly (and yes, SPOILER ALERT), turned out to be a whole lot of nothing. Having failed to catch the snake he wanted, Rosolie settled for getting eaten by the snake he’s with, wearing an outfit last seen when John Wayne fought a giant octopus in “Reap the Wild Wind.”
The confused snake nibbled on his arm, and then the two engaged in a round of extended mud wrestling, complete with a lot of heavy breathing. And that actually makes it sound more exciting than it was.
In the actual clip (embedded below), Rosolie says his arm feels like it's going to break and then says, "Guys you need to get in here... I'm calling it. I need help."
So, to recap: no redeeming conservation message and no actual eating. What exactly was the point of this?
In what I hope are the last words I ever write about this cheap attempt at entertainment, I leave you with pissed off Twitter: