Like 1998 All Over Again

Wednesday, September 06, 2006 | 1:15 pm

Steve Irwin, Aussie
Well, it seems like my patriotic duty to get this post out there: Steve Irwin, rest in peace mate.

When I was backpacking North America in 1998, it seems like every second person who determined my place of birth asked me about Steve Irwin. Truth be told, I had no idea who he was. I had to watch Animal Planet in motel rooms to work out what people were talking about.

Well, upon his untimely death last weekend at age 44, I am once again the recipient of an inordinate number of enquiries as to how I feel about this. I can't say I was a huge fan of his style, indeed Steve himself knew that Australians kind of cringed about his over the top "ocker-isms", but full credit to the man for being a true naturalist, and a dedicated conservationist at heart. I think the demand for showmanship (of which I hold TV ratings partially responsible) drove the message into the background at times as his series went on, but he still constantly tried his damn-dest to educate viewers about this fragile blue-globe we are screwing up, even when they were just looking for animal thrills.

What has appalled me though is the number of comments I have had along the lines of "he had it coming." From a stingray? Something like 17 stingray deaths on record all-time worldwide, thats makes it a pretty unfortunate accident, rather than 'tempting fate'.

To me it's like saying that someone "had it coming" if they die in a car accident because they drive everyday. Being adventurous doesn't mean a desire to die young, it just means that you may occasionally overestimate your invulnerability. I am pretty sure that stuntmen don't desire death, nor firemen nor police or soldiers, but they do have a way to deal with the fear that comes with their tasks, and they understand the risks and try to mitigate them. I don't see Steve Irwin any differently. The man was an honest-to-god bushie, and behind his child-like enthusiasm was an adult's consciosness of the danger and the showmanship entangled in what he did.

It's the one you don't expect that gets ya.

Love him or not, the man has a wife and kids, and his exuberance for life and nature will be missed by many more more than just them. He bought my island's unique flora and fauna to millions around the world, and was never too worried what others thought of him. Who can ask anything more from an Aussie?


At 9/9/06 7:06 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comments published in an English newspaper by Germaine Greer about Steve Erwin were shocking especially for his wife and family at a time of grief and mourning. The rest of us just see her as she really is, a dried up old hag....the Poms can keep her!!

At 9/9/06 8:06 pm, Anonymous Blue Angel said...

All the best critics/umpires sit in the stands whilst sitting on their hands totally self absorbed, ill advised and contribute absolutely sod-all to the planet, then crawl out of the woodwork with their comments when the "doers" are no longer.....makes you want to puke.

At 11/9/06 10:30 am, Blogger Aussie-Askew said...

I caught the Germaine Greer comment briefly, and just can't understand what she hoped to gain from it except *any" type of publicity. Boy did she just wear out her already precariously-thin welcome.

And today I find out that Aussie racing legend Peter Brock passed away in a rally accident over the weekend. Man, that's a childhood legend for me also, as I grew up a Holden Commodore kid.

Sad month.


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