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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

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Ben

First: nice headline.

I also contemplated whether Irwin's death should be a major story, and I ultimately decided it should be - for the simple reason that people care about it. And CNN beats EVERY story they cover into the ground. It's what you do when you have to fill every moment with something.

I watched Irwin's show maybe twice, though I did dress up like him for Halloween once (all khaki, rubber snake, drunk and yelling "crikey!"). Still, I think you're right - it was his unscripted enthusiasm and exuberant love of wildlife that made us care.

Heather

My two year old was standing beside me when I first read the news. He was so excited because he recognized "Steve" and he proceeded to tell me about how he was going to "get that crocodile!" The Crocodile Hunter is one of the very few things we let our son watch. At least I don't have to explain it to him right now.

I do think that Steve took unnecessary risks for dramatic purposes. My husband had an 11 foot Burmese Python. We found a new home for him before our oldest was born. Although he had a well constructed cage, it was never worth that small shadow of doubt. (The rabbits he ate were larger than a newborn.)

Herpetology was my favorite course in college and Steve Irwin always made me smile. He'll be missed in our household.

Daniel

You compared his show to Jackass, and I think you're bang on about that. You can really see that theme in the show that, I think, intentionally combined Crocodile Hunter and Jackass: Wild Boys. A couple of idiot post-adolescents with a camera crew running around in thongs harrassing wildlife.

I didn't like Irwin's schtick because I thought it was an absurdly mixed message. I understand showmanship, but you can't talk about respecting animals and then, as you say, wave them around like yo-yos. That's thrill-seeking behavior cast as mature concern, and it doesn't wash.

I'm sorry the guy had to die, but isn't this the least surprising death you've heard about in a long time? Taking unnecessary risks around dangerous creatures made this guy rich and famous. It also killed him. Duh.

Pam

I wasn't a fan - and to be honest, I think his conservation message was lost in all of the sensationalism. I always thought he treated animals horribly. When I heard that he had died the way he did - I felt the same way that Dan did - I wasn't that surprised. The Great Barrier Reef isn't exactly a safe place - folks die all of the time there, it just isn't publicized.

JanetLee

I just feel sorry for his kids. Especially the older girl as it has been reported that he was filming scenes for a children's show that she was involved with. Kids think everything is their fault.

Heather

For the record I do not consider The Crocodile Hunter to be of the same caliber as Jacques Cousteau or National Geographic, but at this stage in my son's life, they just don't hold the same appeal.

The show was what it was and I never really credited it to be more than entertainment with a little bit of information thrown in.

Pam

I feel sorry for his kids too. It would be hard to lose a father, but I wonder how strange it would be to lose a father that there were so many images of around. Maybe it's good (comforting at some stage) - I don't know. I just think it would be strange.

Ben

Of course Irwin didn't use common sense. As Dan says, this was not a terribly surprising death.

Still, I don't find Irwin contradictory. Almost every risk taken with nature or wildlife is unnecessary. No one has to climb the Himalayas, get in a whitewater kayak, or backpack through Alaskan bear country. But almost everyone who does so has an immense respect for and love of nature and wildlife. To put it in Dan's terms, I think thrill seeking behavior quite often meshes with mature concern.

From what little I watched, Irwin was way over the top. That said, linking risk/adventure to nature is pretty normal. For most of us, interacting with "nature" is a now a purely leisure activity. And for many, that experience can't be distengled from the idea of "adventure." I think that's human nature, I think Irwin tapped that (albeit sensationally), and I think it is an effective avenue to get people interested in conservation and wildlife. Certainly more effective then dousing people in fur coats with paint, a la PETA.

I didn't watch enough to assess how he treated animals. I mainly saw him pick them up and handle them, which didn't strike me as particularly egregious (though often stupid). My impression is they were probably worse off in a zoo (his or anyone else's) than being handled by Irwin in the wild.

Nightwind

--I'm sorry the guy had to die, but isn't this the least surprising death you've heard about in a long time? Taking unnecessary risks around dangerous creatures made this guy rich and famous. It also killed him. Duh.--

I keep wanting to say this. Really. When I told my husband that irwin had died, his response was a long pause followed by "I'm guessing it happened how I'm thinking it happened?"
(ok, the sentence doesn't actually make sense, but you get the picture.)

But after all his crazy stunts, and as much as I would like to say "See! That's what you get for being a goof!" that isn't what happened. By all accounts, he wasn't doing anything outlandish. People scubadive with stingrays all the time. I encountered one on one of my dives. It was buried in the sand, and no one knew it was there until we were practically on top of it and it swam off. They didn't even warn us to avoid any stingrays we encountered.

Steve was a thrill-seeker, but I just can't bring myself to blame his death on that trait.

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