Wednesday, September 2, 2015

President Barack Obama To Appear On “Running Wild with Bear Grylls”

You read that correctly folks. The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama is in the process of filming an episode with Bear Grylls for his show Running Wild with Bear Grylls.


For those not familiar with the show, outdoor reality show host Bear Grylls takes a celebrity into the wilderness for a survival challenge. Typically a new celebrity appears on each episode. The show is filled with the usual over the top antics and reckless disregard for safety or proper survival tactics for which Bear Grylls has become famous. Well, in the next few days Barack Obama will be filming one such episode, which is to air later in the year.

The stated reason for the president doing the show is to raise awareness of global warming. I expect it to be heavy on political rhetoric.

As distasteful as I find it to have a US President appear on a pseudo survival show, I find it even more distasteful that he would be appearing on a show hosted by Bear Grylls. Seems like there were much better choices than the guy who drinks urine on TV for shock value.

While most survival gurus seem to be surrounded by controversy, the controversy around Bear Grylls ended a long time ago, and these days we are pretty much all on the same page in that his “survival” shows are nothing more than a series of fake, ill-advised stunts, that have no place in a survival situation. And let’s not forget the fact that his shows have been shown to be fake and staged numerous times, from spending nights in a hotel while pretending to be in the woods, to eating lunch with the crew while pretending not to have food and being “forced” to eat every disgusting thing he can find in the most vivid way possible, to crossing “dangerous” terrain which then turns out to be a ditch on the side of the road.

Sadly, this is the type of show that President Barack Obama has chosen to appear on. I imagine the fake nature of the show is a big part of the reason why it lends itself so well to having the president appear on it. The two of them can pretend to be “surviving in the wilderness”, while at the same time filming the show in the hotel’s garden while hundred secret service agents stand just off camera.

The worst part of this, aside from the demeaning nature of the act, is that while Barack Obama will be pushing a message about global warming, he will unintentionally also be pushing a message of unsafe and dangerous wilderness survival practices. Giving credibility to someone like Bear Grylls by appearing on his “survival” show promotes practices and approaches to survival which are demonstrably and unquestionably dangerous and ill-advised.

Certainly there are better ways for the President of the United States of America to spend his time. But even if he insists on doing this, one can hardly imagine a worst choice of a show than Running Wild with Bear Grylls. Certainly a more respectable “survival expert” could have been found, who can actually bring some valuable knowledge to the people watching the program, and promote the outdoors and outdoor recreation in a responsible way.   

Update (9/2/15):

It appears that Cody Lundin, survival instructor at Aboriginal Living Skills School, LLC and former host of Dual Survival, has just released an open letter to President Obama, expressing his disappointment with his decision to appear on Running Wild with Bear Grylls. You can see the post here. I have also transcribed it below.

Dear President Obama,

My heart sank when I learned that you will appear with Bear Grylls on a hyper-scripted television show. Your decision to “learn” survival skills from an actor who plays a survival instructor on TV has further muddied the water for people wanting to learn factual skills to keep themselves and loved ones alive during emergencies. Outdoor survival instruction is a real profession, a profession in which people’s lives depend upon the training given. It is not a joke or a cheap PR stunt.

You have worldwide influence. An opportunity was wasted to educate millions of people to be safer and more prepared in the back country. This same self-reliant mindset and preparedness learned in the outdoors translates directly into our towns and cities. A better prepared, more resilient and stronger citizen is an advantage to us all. This is the intention of authentic survival training.

You had an opportunity to train with a genuine outdoor survival instructor in Alaska; there are several of us nationwide. You chose instead to further perpetuate the dangerous misinformation that networks continue to spew out regarding the outdoor survival skills profession. This misinformation can and has killed people. Your appearance on this show further justifies this misinformation, and makes it that much more difficult for professional survival instructors to do their job and save lives. Tragic and unnecessary.

In closing, when Edward tries to convince you to drink your own piss, instead of the sparkling bottled water in the production cooler off-set… don’t.


Doesn’t the President have advisors who can look into these things? How does he end up on a show hosted by one of the least respected people in the industry?

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