David Shiffman — a conservationist at Arizona State University and co-author of the study — told the Post that Discovery's "Shark Week" indeed included more white experts and commentators named Mike than women.
“When there are hundreds of people of color interested who work in this field, [and] when my field is more than half women, maybe it’s not an accident any more that they’re only featuring white men,” Shiffman added to the paper.
Lisa Whitenack, a biology professor at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., led the research team behind the study, and its members examined hundreds of “Shark Week” episodes from 1988 through 2020 to come up with their findings, the Post said.
The paper said Discovery didn't respond to its request for comment on the study — although the channel did tell WBTS in Boston after preliminary findings came to light in 2021 that it wouldn’t comment on a study “that has yet to pass any scientific approvals."
Whitenack, however, told the Post the study has since undergone a scientific review.
Not the first time
Scientists and TV critics bit down hard on "Shark Week" in 2020, the paper said, for featuring six white men out of eight named experts. Whitenack told the Post her team's study — which also commenced in 2020 — found that throughout almost all of the history of "Shark Week," over 90% of the 229 experts were white and about 78% were men.
The year of the criticism isn't so surprising, as readers of TheBlaze also may remember that 2020 saw a massive race-related reckoning amid rioting sparked by George Floyd's death, including changes in product imaging and branding:
- Mutual of Omaha ditched its Native American chief logo.
- Uncle Ben's rice changed its name and dispensed with using the image of a black man on its boxes.
- Quaker Oats announced that the famous Aunt Jemima brand of breakfast syrup and pancake mix would be going away because it perpetuates racial stereotypes.
- Eskimo Pie also planned to change its name.
- L'Oreal — the world's largest cosmetic and beauty company — said it would stop using the word "whitening" on its products; and the Houston Association of Realtors decided to axe the word "master" in descriptions of bedrooms and bathrooms on real estate listings in favor of the term "primary."
What did folks have to say about the 'Shark Week' findings?
Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" posted a rather funny reaction on Facebook Wednesday: "Good Morning. As a white male named Mike who hosted 'Shark Week' more than once, this headline caught my eye in The Washington Post ["'Shark Week' lacks diversity, overrepresents men named Mike, study finds"] ... I suspect I might be asked to respond specifically to this headline. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please leave them in the comments below. Unless of course, you’re a white guy named Mike. I think we’ve all heard quite enough from you…"
In addition, one might assume that those commenting on the Post's story would applaud the study, but a quick look at the comments says otherwise:
- "Amazing research," one commenter wrote. "I'm hoping this woman now tries to cancel the Great White Shark as a clearly racist shark and sues Steven Spielberg for clearly emphasizing only Great Whites in his racist movie "Jaws.'"
- "Discovery has not highlighted a single researcher who identifies as a shark, nor a shark who identifies as a researcher. Disgraceful!" another commenter said.
- "Like all of wokeness, it’s narcissistic performance art by neurotic white people, for neurotic white people," another commenter observed.
- "Meth is bad," another commenter quipped.
- "I saw this headline being dunked on and immediately thought, 'Please don’t let this be the Post.' Is this a joke article, and I’m not seeing it??" another commenter wondered.
- "This is basically an Onion article," another commenter noted. "The left just keeps creating parody of itself. Another example of how the progressive demand for racism outstrips actual supply."
- "You have GOT to be kidding!" another commenter exclaimed. "This is an early April Fools prank, right? If not, pass the poisoned Kool-Aid, and let's just end it all now."
- "Why is only the WHITE shark called 'great'?????" another commenter asked. "The ocean — so damn racist."
Here's a "Shark Week" clip. Content warning: Images of caucasian males as well as sharks with distinctly pale underbellies:
Five Great White Sharks Show Off Their Attack Skills | Shark Weekyoutu.be