September 12, 2006


On 9/4, I shared a ride to the Sacramento airport with Lance Bass's "husband" Reichen Lemkuhl and TRL's Tyler after we'd all appeared at their gay pride festivities the day before. Both were upset over the death of The Crocodile Hunter. Crikey! I had no clue who Steve Irwin was until he died. I guessed he was sort of a poor man's Crocodile Dundee. From all of the footage which aired for a week after his fatal freak accident, he was extremely annoying, though I guess, to his credit, he advocated wildlife and nature preservation. But seeing him joust with a crocodile holding his newborn baby in one hand? And we called Michael Jackson a freak for dangling his brat off of a German balcony? At least MJ wasn't dangling his brat into the jaws of a huge reptile he was aggravating at the time! I can't believe that a crocodile, alligator or anything that looks remotely like one is going to be my friend. Maybe if I'd watch Steve's shows I'd have a greater understanding and come to love large, snapping monsters. But honey, I'd prefer not to acquaint myself with anything that beastly. (Chi Chi LaRue excluded.) I'm sorry the guy died and I don't think he was "asking for it" or it was the animal kingdom avenging itself against Steve, but I was interested to see a viewpoint which differed from the praise of 8 year olds from his fellow countrywoman Germaine Greer. Apparently, she was not a fan. An excerpt from Germaine's article on him in THE GUARDIAN:

"The only time Irwin ever seemed less than entirely lovable to his fans (as distinct from zoologists) was when he went into the Australia Zoo crocodile enclosure with his month-old baby son in one hand and a dead chicken in the other. For a second you didn't know which one he meant to feed to the crocodile. If the crocodile had been less depressed it might have made the decision for him. As the catatonic beast obediently downed its tiny snack, Irwin walked his baby on the grass, not something that paediatricians recommend for rubbery baby legs even when there isn't a stir-crazy carnivore a few feet away. The adoring world was momentarily appalled. They called it child abuse. The whole spectacle was revolting. The crocodile would rather have been anywhere else and the chicken had had a grim life too, but that's entertainment at Australia Zoo.

Irwin's response to the sudden outburst of criticism was bizarre. He believed that he had the crocodile under control. But he could have fallen over, suggested an interviewer. He admitted that was possible, but only if a meteor had hit the earth and caused an earthquake of 6.6 on the Richter scale. That sort of self-delusion is what it takes to be a "real Aussie larrikin".

What Irwin never seemed to understand was that animals need space. The one lesson any conservationist must labour to drive home is that habitat loss is the principal cause of species loss. There was no habitat, no matter how fragile or finely balanced, that Irwin hesitated to barge into, trumpeting his wonder and amazement to the skies. There was not an animal he was not prepared to manhandle. Every creature he brandished at the camera was in distress. Every snake badgered by Irwin was at a huge disadvantage, with only a single possible reaction to its terrifying situation, which was to strike. Easy enough to avoid, if you know what's coming. Even my cat knew that much. Those of us who live with snakes, as I do with no fewer than 12 front-fanged venomous snake species in my bit of Queensland rainforest, know that they will get out of our way if we leave them a choice. Some snakes are described as aggressive, but, if you're a snake, unprovoked aggression doesn't make sense. Snakes on a plane only want to get off. But Irwin was an entertainer, a 21st-century version of a lion-tamer, with crocodiles instead of lions.

In 2004, Irwin was accused of illegally encroaching on the space of penguins, seals and humpback whales in Antarctica, where he was filming a documentary called Ice Breaker. An investigation by the Australian Environmental Department resulted in no action being taken, which is not surprising seeing that John Howard, the prime minister, made sure that Irwin was one of the guests invited to a "gala barbecue" for George Bush a few months before. Howard is now Irwin's chief mourner, which is only fair, seeing that Irwin announced that Howard is the greatest leader the world has ever seen.

The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin, but probably not before a whole generation of kids in shorts seven sizes too small has learned to shout in the ears of animals with hearing 10 times more acute than theirs, determined to become millionaire animal-loving zoo-owners in their turn."

What is really insane is that now, out of vengeance, Irwin's fans are now butchering stingrays in Australia! He certainly instilled a love of wildlife in these fans, didn't he?


"At least ten stingrays have been found dead and mutilated on Australia’s eastern coast in the last week in what conservationists believe could be revenge attacks for the death of Steve Irwin, the popular naturalist and television personality."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, most conservationists do not "manhandle" wildlife at will unless necessary. Irwin's job was not merely wildlife conservation, but educating the general public and exciting them to love and nourish the natural environment in which they live. I think he understood better than most that wild animals needed space; he was once bitten while moving an alligator to a larger enclosure because it had grown too large for its present one. When working in the field, he and his crew were thoroughly trained to leave the land "as was". There is a great deal of training and method in conservation and wildlife education that the general public, or anyone who is not actively involved with environmental work (which are people with at least a bachelor's in environmental or life sciences; just try to get a conservation job in a national park without one!). Of course, Irwin understood the issue of space. The occasion of his death was one purely of accident, not even on his own part. The cameraman moved ahead of Irwin and the animal, which made the poor stingray very anxious from being boxed in, causing a natural reflective action of his barbed tail to snap up. Sort of like closing your eyes and throwing your fists out in front of you for protection. As an animal lover like Irwin, I'm sure the last thing in his mind was an apology to the creature; I don't think it was her fault, she was just doing what came naturally. I'm sure of this. I've been bitten and harmed by animals and gotten stitches and the first thing on my mind after the shock of pain was the word, "sorry." And although the loss of such a loving man is great, the fact that he passed away while doing what he felt he was on earth to do makes it truly beautiful. Also, come on! It's death by sting ray! There's only been 17 of those, and he was the only one caught on film! What an amazing life and an amazing death! Irwin is a hero and champion for the natural world forever!

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

one of my friends read this and pointed out an incomplete sentence... sorry, i didn't finish second grade.

"There is a great deal of training and method in conservation and wildlife education that the general public, or anyone who is not actively involved with environmental work (which are people with at least a bachelor's in environmental or life sciences; just try to get a conservation job in a national park without one!)"

I wanted to snap on the words "would not know." to that sentence....

Also, Irwin has been working with dangerous wildlife for longer than lance bass has been gay. A professional doing his job momentarily with his kid is totally different (we throw tots in a pool filled with piss and chemicals to teach 'em how to swim) than dropping a kid off a balcony because all the medication the plastic surgeon gave you killed every damn brain cell in your head! haaaha

12:08 AM  
Blogger Screaming Queens Entertainment said...

I only saw that show once and my immediate impression was that the guy was an asshole. He was obviously getting unnecessarily physical with the animals to entertain a macho audience. I don't buy the conservationist argument at all. The show was all about creating dangerous situations for entertainment. I think that stingray was a crocodile in a past life who came back for revenge. Well, I don't actually think that, but it'sa nice idea.

1:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was saddened about the demise of Steve Irwin the crocodile hunter, and felt that he death could have been avoided. If only he use a high sun factor! as this would have protected him from powerful rays.

4:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're just jealous.

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was no accident

Them old rays killed him against all his terroism against the animals of Sweet nature, innocent swwet animals of anture, the lord

I know all these PETA activists this faction or contingent of left wing liberal PETARs has gone a killing them rays because they are the bad animals the ones what must be killed to death because the innocent animals of nature are getting a bad rap for the murderous killing sprees of these rays, that's all.

9:08 PM  
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