Everyone in the blogosphere has a post on Steve Irwin, so I guess I’d better chime in too with an image and a piece of trivia. Firstly, that the barb or spike in the tail of a Dasyatis species is a ‘pin’ in Aboriginal English, and a mangarl(a) in Bardi.
And secondly, that the Sydney Morning Herald has a strange sense of proportion when it comes to world affairs. Check out this screenshot of the online front page and the bottom left-hand corner…
There’s a few stories worth telling in the wake (hmm, bad pun) of Irwin’s death.
I remember asking an old Aboriginal guy I worked with quite a bit (who has also passed away, bobala) about his favourite TV shows, and with no hesitation he replied ‘The Croc Hunter’. I was suprised, as I would have thought Aboriginal people would scorn his tom-foolery with dangerous animals – most times I’ve been bush with language speakers, their conservatism wrt not encountering or provoking dangerous animals (esp. buffalo, but also snakes, crocs…) has left a strong impression.
It seemed this guy was most impressed with Irwin’s talent? bravado? ability? with such creatures, perhaps because he knew exactly how dangerous these creatures are (compared to the imagined danger they have for city folk who have no experience of these animals).
Going with the theme, I asked him what he thought of Rex Hunt, and his fishing program, knowing that many Aboriginal people are keen and capable fisherpeople. But no, Rex Hunt was a fool, said my friend, because after he caught the fish, he kissed it and threw it back! Pretty soon that fish is going to learn not to come back to that place! (i.e. the fish population will learn to avoid popular fishing spots and there won’t be any for people to catch!)
I love this story, and it always reminds me that my prejudices and preconceptions are just that, and to always remain open to alternative possibilites and analyses.
And re: Irwin’s Death, I actually went into shock at the news. Surely the Croc Hunter was, by now at least, immune to the possibilty of actual danger? In dying he actually becomes mortal…
And I wonder if there’ll be sorry business held for Irwin somewhere, as there has been for some other celebrities, e.g. Diana (apparently)…
I think Germaine Greer at her acerbic best said what had to be said to puncture the otherwise uninterrupted public gush over the death. ‘The animal world got its revenge,’ said Germs. She was perturbed that, for all the good he may have done the cause of wildlife conservation – and personally I think that’s debatable – he didn’t seem to think that animals needed space. She envisaged a generation of young lads in too-tight shorts shouting into the ears of animals whose hearing was 10 times more acute than our own.
As for me, I’m getting a bit jack of the overkill in the public mourning of people you didn’t know. I think we’re going back to the public necrophilia of the Victorians and the way our little rodent of a Prime Minister has jumped on the bandwagon is nauseating. The suggestion that Irwin deserved a State funeral, for instance, devalues the honour. He was a weathy TV perosnality and theme park entreprenur, for Christ’s sake, not the messiah!
Mami, I’ve heard similar things said about Rex Hunt – that and people were pretty scornful of all his expensive equipment and how little he had to show for it. I don’t remember Kumantyayi coming up in conversation though.