In case you haven’t heard about it, Cody Lundin, our favorite barefooting survivalist, is no longer with Dual Survival.
They fired him.
On February 17, Cody announced on Facebook that he’d been fired from the show:
Unfortunately, I have been fired by Discovery Channel for differences over safety and health concerns on the show and will no longer be a part of Dual Survival.
I saw some speculation that the safety issue was related to Cody going barefoot, but that really doesn’t make sense—they’ve been well-aware of that from the beginning. In fact, it was one of the selling points as they tried to make their two survivalists as different as possible.
Besides, Cody is always the one more concerned about safety. For instance, he’s the one that didn’t like the unnecessary risk when Joe Teti killed that boar in Trouble in Paradise.
No, I expect the production company wanted Cody to do something that he felt was unsafe. (Note also that, while folks like to blame the Discovery Channel, what really happens is that these shows are produced by production companies and then sold to a cable channel.)
They’ve already done a bunch of stuff on that show that really isn’t smart for real survival. They sex it up, to make it more of an adventure show. Yes, they do manage to teach some survival in it, but it is really quite scripted.
I looked at that before in Dual Survival Deception. They show us a “scenario”, but they’re really just doing a few days of shooting with a full camera crew with most things planned out in advance.
As far as I’m concerned, Les Stroud’s Survivorman is the show that shows real surviving. For him, there is no camera crew—he does all the filming himself. Better still, that means there is no production company looking over his shoulder trying to make him do something that is more adventuresome (and more dangerous!) while not really making survival sense.
As an example, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Les rappel down a cliff. Yet, we’ve seen it a few times on Dual Survival. There was using the parachute at Atacama:
There was the simple rappelling in The Green Hell:
OK, maybe at Atacama that was the only way down. But in The Green Hell the smart thing to do is to go around and find another way down. That is clearly what Les Stroud does in his situations. That’s the safe thing to do. That’s what you do if you want to survive.
The justification for Dual Survival is that they are showing you how to do it if you have no other choice (even though they really don’t say that, or try to make you think long and hard about finding that choice). But it is also for entertainment (while Les is showing you a real survival situation).
Cody has even made it clear that that is what he does. For an earlier feature he shows how to catch and eat a rat.
But he also explains it on his website, talking about Survival on TV:
[D]ue to my level of experience, it’s not difficult for me to figure out if “something survival” is faked or embellished on TV – and I myself have done the faking on more than one occasion.
* * *
In my “eat a rat” video, a production company hired a film crew for specific reasons to film me. It was known before hand that the intention of the shoot was for me to kill and eat a packrat. As the film crew was being paid and on site for only a day, I had to kill the rat the day before. I placed the long dead rat under the deadfall rock minutes before we shot the scene. It appears that the deadfall trap was tripped and killed the rat…which was the point. Again, almost anything can be done in the edit room with the right footage.
You can see him “discovering” the rat at 2:30 in the video.
You can do that with the magic of television. It’s a production, not reality. Cody justifies it because it teaches, and I really don’t have a problem with that. (I just prefer the way Survivorman does it.)
But I imagine the “teaching” part is also part of Cody’s dissent and concerns about health and safety. At some point, when a show is purporting to teach survival, a scripted situation, and the solution they want to portray, can really make no sense from a safety standpoint when what the production crew really wants to show is adventure. (Think Bear Grylls jumping off waterfalls! I can see Cody thoroughly objecting to even portraying something like that.)
That’s not to say that I don’t like Dual Survival. I do. A lot. You just have to understand the different goals of the two shows. In addition, Cody demonstrates one of my big interests: that bare feet are way more useful and functional and sturdy than most folks think.
And I think that’s also important to get out there.
Joe Teti, the other half of the show, did make a comment on his own Facebook page:
OK guys. I am still on the show. The information you are getting about Cody was not supposed to be released in the fashion it was. I am not permitted to make any comments at this time.
“Not supposed to be released in the fashion it was?” I don’t see how they could expect otherwise. That’s what happens when you fire somebody. They’re no longer under contract and can say what they want. (I also notice that we’ve still heard not a word from The Discovery Channel.)
Anyways, the fourth season is going to start in April. They have a fair number of shows in the can with Cody (no, I don’t know how many, but my guess is around 10). I will certainly watch it.
But no way do I see a viable season 5. What made that show was Cody, his knowledge, and his barefooting viewpoint (which includes living with the earth, not conquering it). Maybe they’ll try a fifth season, but I’d be really surprised if it did well.
But I suspect the production company (or the Discovery Channel) will realize that before then and not want to spend the money producing such a risky proposition.