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‘Oh Hell No,’ they made another Sharknado movie. Why do we keep watching them?

July 22, 2015 — 

The gestation period for an elephant, both African and Asian, is over 600 days. A donkey, 365 days. A great white shark?  Estimated to be about 12 to 18 months, but a movie about a shark-hurling tornado, remarkably, is ready for the world in just 357 days.

On July 30 of last year Sharknado 2 came out and on July 22 Sharknado 3, Oh Hell No! hits TV screens. Winnipeg Free Press critic Brad Oswald has reviewed it and after summarizing its campy plot, he arrived at this sentiment:

What happens next, in narrative terms, couldn’t possibly matter less; shark attacks continue to occur with a frequency and ferocity matched only by the rapid-fire barrage of minor celebrity drop-ins and NBC Universal-related product placements.

The ending, of course, is triumphant and preposterous.

 

Why do people like these bad movies?

The first Sharknado movie, according to Wikipedia, took in less than $200,000 at the box office at 200 screens. Yet it’s enduring and popular enough in the cult scence that two more movies were made. Why do we like bad movies such as this? UM Today asked English, film and theatre professor Brenda Austin-Smith this question. She was travelling at the time and emailed this:

B movies are fun because they are cheesy and clever–or, because they are still cheesy and very, very dumb. I’d be happy to expand on this apparent contradiction if you’d like; in short, we like at times to be on top of films, to know more than they seem to know about themselves. We love to roll our eyes at how awful and silly a film is. And at other times, we love laughing at a film that laughs at itself, a film that credits us with being in on the joke, but still breaking up over it. And we often adore films that mix it up a bit: that are a combination of sincere silliness and winking, knowing, self-consciousness. “Sharknado” dares us to take it seriously; it knows that it is a product of a late night marketing joke run amok. But it runs with it, and we crack up and love that the film acts as if it takes itself seriously, and does/doesn’t admit it. We love films that act as if they are William Shatner all the time. We watch because we can’t believe what we are seeing (“Surely they can’t be serious. They aren’t serious–are they?”).

Are we in danger of Sharknados?

Upon the release of the second Sharknado movie, actress Tara Reid told GQ “sharks could be stuck in tornados.”

UM Today asked professor John Hanesiak, an expert in severe weather systems who runs Canada’s only storm-chasing course, if this was indeed the case. The professor of environment and geography said that,

[There is] not much to calculate here actually as we do not really know what the “upward pull” strength of tornadoes are, and in fact, many believe that the upward pull is rather minimal compared to the horizontal speeds – it is the extreme horizontal winds that shreds structures, then the turbulent motion and aerodynamic nature of the debris around the tornado lifts the objects up which can then be tossed about. There have been reports of small fish falling from the sky after possible water spouts in various parts of the world, so I suspect this is where the movie gets its idea from. The likelihood of a large shark being plucked out of the water is extremely small. The shark would have to be essentially right at the surface of the water with a large tornado – just guessing here, an EF4 or EF5. I think a shark would avoid getting close to the surface with such turbulent water under a tornado.

Could a shark survive in a tornado?

Common sense says no. And so does biologist Gary Anderson, associate head of the department of biological sciences at the U of M.

“If in the extraordinarily unlikely event of this ever happening I would very much doubt a shark would survive, particularly if they were slammed against the ground or by anything else that might have been picked up by the tornado,” he says. “I should also add that the odds of me ever watching [a Sharknado movie]  are similar to the odds of sharks ever getting picked up by a tornado and surviving.”

 

 

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