Debate On Nature Documentaries: Entertaining Thrill Or Cheap Wildlife "Porn"?

Salena Harshini |Mar 11, 2020

Nature documentaries have been claimed to be made in a controversial way that does not foster the realities and values of the wildlife world.

A prominent issue arose in the concern of documentary researchers, presenters, producers quite a while ago and it has recently caused disquiet again. It is the debate on nature documentaries and their importance to the viewers.

The question to be asked is – are they essential in saving the planet or only great entertainment?

Do nature programmes promote certain wildlife nature? Do they showcase the real things that happen across the globe? Who assigns the stories that get told and what suggestions are there for the actions to save the Earth?

Natur1 Debate On Nature Documentaries
The debate on nature documentaries have been ongoing for quite a while

While some of the audience find nature documentaries entertaining, some are concerned that they have lost their initial purposes and true values.

Nature documentaries are wildlife “porn”

A professor from Bangor University has stated that nature programmes “feel like a lie” after she met the cult Netflix show Our Planet’s crew to conduct her research. The professor had watched the crew filming rainforests burning and claimed that the completed episode showed nothing real, only perfect wildlife and habitats.

Her hopes about the series eventually showing the devastating reality got crumbled when the episode was broadcasted.

It was one of the few cases which led to the conclusion that nature programmed have turned into wildlife “porn” degrading the nature reality and discouraging actions. Where was the responsibility to tell the truth?

Polar Bear Cannibal Debate On Nature Documentaries
Polar bear cannibalism is one of the truths not shown on these documentaries

To this question, One Tribe TV’s Managing Director and Executive Producer, Dale Templar, argued that gloom and doom would not work. He said the way of depicting the devastation of climate anywhere and anytime would make it similar to a common seasonal flu: inevitable and ubiquitous. He said entertaining films can inspire people to save planet Earth and empower them to feel that they can.

With such opposing opinions, what would be a satisfactory solution to nature documentaries?

Debate on nature documentaries won’t stop with facts alone

Because behaviors won’t alter from only facts, people need to form personal links with nature. If they don’t understand, they won’t care. The biggest question is if nature documentaries would widen or close the gap between us and the wildlife.

How can the filmmakers figure out the balance between making beautiful on-screen moments which can compete in the jammed market while also being dauntless enough to unveil the disturbing truths about nature and people’s conflicts?

Nature Debate On Nature Documentaries
How can these programs get better?

What level of power do the makers have comparing to that of the commissioners and those who have the decision on what to be made? How realistic of the impact to be measured?

According to Professor Julia Jones, films that show the jarring realities of nature can also be inspiring. She insisted that the heroes fighting for the wildlife must be revealed as they provide hope and innovation amidst overwhelming odds and catastrophic destruction. These narratives will mostly sure to stir action.

What we really need to do

What is widely agreed on is that we should work more on the nature documentaries that focus on people-and-nature connection.

TV producer Dale Templar achieved huge success for Human Planet and he has currently been busy with Heroes of the Celtic Deep project.

Mike Gunton, who produced the famous Planet Earth II, dedicated one-fourth of each episode to display that BTS videos of his crew interacting with the subject matter. In a nutshell, the appetite for human stories should be valued.

Nature And Human Debate On Nature Documentaries
Debate on nature documentaries would be less intense with films focusing human-and-nature connection

The nature documentaries that would actually save the planet are those that also emphasize the fundamental connection that the natural world and humans share and bring out the value of nature via its link with human experience. The way they compliment each other won’t ever go out of style.

Environmental challenges need everyone’s help and we can’t let nature/human divide go on longer. Although our place in the world of nature is the most immense challenge for the Earth, it can be the solution, too.

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