Poor old Bear Grylls. He’s barely (no pun intended) announced his new five part reality series, The Island With Bear Grylls, before he’s being accused of being a right old sexist rotter.
Why? Well, mainly because all 13 of the people he’s dumped on a remote island to fend for themselves on the show (originally titled ‘The Island Of Lost Blokes‘, LOL) are men.
That does make it hard to argue you’re an equal opportunities explorer, but fear not, because Bear has a way round the accusation. He’s bravely conducting a social experiment, you see.
Yes, not content with biting the heads off snakes for no good reason or squeezing himself into a dead seal’s skin, Bear has decided to investigate that ever- media- friendly subject of masculinity.
“I want to find out what happens if you strip man of all the luxuries and the conveniences of modern living and then force him to fight for his very existence,” explains Bear as ominous music plays over the show’s rather macho introduction.
And, sure enough, we’re treated to images of these modern fopps who have been spoiled by such lunacy as central heating and running water, completely forgetting how to wipe their bums on rocks like real men.
Look! There’s one ordering a cappuccino instead of a Special Brew! There’s one using an actual telephone in an office that doesn’t even have a gun turret! Hahaha, they aren’t even wearing any animals they killed themselves!
So, while it’s no surprise that Bear has been attacked by female survival experts and explorers, it’s more of a surprise that he hasn’t been attacked by any men.
Because what could be more insulting than having an overgrown boy scout tell you that you’re not actually being a man in the right way just because you happen to enjoy the opportunity to use a microwave now and then?
The idea behind this experiment is to find out whether modern man has lost that ability to look after themselves when they’re stripped of everyday creature comforts,” explains Bear. “Without your smart phone, without your computer, can modern man still cut it?”
Well, yes, they probably can, Bear, but rather than just take their phones away, you’ve chucked them into the Pacific with no food or shelter then made yourself scarcer than Susanna Reid’s legs and chuckled at their misfortunes while watching the footage.
That’s right, Bear won’t be there as his 13 social experimenters end up eating each other’s fingers in starvation, but then, making use of the comforts so beloved of modern man isn’t unfamiliar territory for him, as we know.
“It’s hard to say if I’m a survivor,” call centre worker Ryan admits once Bear has buggered off, “because I’ve never had to survive.”
And, barring barmy reality TV shows, you probably never will, Ryan. The idea that men should feel any kind of obligation to reawakening survival skills is as hollow as one of this island’s coconuts, but perhaps we’re missing the point.
The real lesson that Bear is teaching us here is that the truly modern man doesn’t know how to survive because he doesn’t need to. He does what all good Bears do, and checks into the nearest hotel before flicking on the telly.
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