Sunday, July 24

This Is Not News. This Is 21st Century Bear Baiting.



The first coverage I saw was on CNN. Yes, my wife was at the controls once again, channels going by at eyebat speed while I was trying to read. So I was already slightly irritated. I admit when it comes to irritation you have to grade me on a curve.

A couple years back the fine folks at Comcast decided to rearrange all the channels for our convenience, grouping channels by "type". Naturally they did a half-assed job, and that sort of division really makes no sense unless you're going to do some maintenance from time to time, which they aren't, but for our purposes it explains why all the cable news channels are at the upper end of the dial, the place where she stops, turns around, and heads back the way she came. And one of the things guaranteed to irritate me more than using the teevee as a manually-operated strobe light is seeing cable news. And she stopped on CNN, and here's the delightful feature story on the poor heartbroken crew that caught an 1191 pound tiger shark, only to arrive six minutes late to claim the $85,000 prize. Later I got to see the same footage and the same "gee whiz wouldja look at that big fish" coverage on local news, and again, somehow, on CBS.

This is not a bleeding heart issue. If it were not the case that large coastal sharks are overfished this would simply be more disgraceful behavior from Homo yahooensis. But they are overfished, in no small part because of some stupid thirty-year-old movie and the generation of mindless sensationalism in its wake. If in the 21st century we have not reached the point where fishermen themselves are the first to protect ecological balance then those big brains of ours serve only to increase the price of hats. I'm sure the relevant laws and regulations were observed as scrupulously as they usually are, maybe a bit more so as we could hope such whoop-de-dos might draw an increased amount of scrutiny.

But that isn't my point. What beyond slack-jawed gawking was the point of the story? If you can't give a report on PETA's activities without calling it "the controversial animal rights group" then this shit is controversial too. This magnificent monster was swimming in the ocean where God put him, and he's killed by a bunch whose greatest risk is the ice will melt and the beer will get warm, and it's news? Congratulations on helping to breed a whole new generation who'll want to go out and kill things to get their pictures on teevee. When they jump into the water naked and wrestle the thing barehanded, call me. Then it'll be a sport.

Then there's the local news angle. I saw it on the CBS affiliate, WISH-TV, which was obviously concerned that some local jaw might go undropped in the central Indiana audience. Debby Knox read the story. Debby was Indianapolis' first female anchor. Is this why? So someone minus a Y chromosome can read whatever the suits think will sell toilet paper? Debby, do you personally go out and slaughter animals for sport? For the sake of winning valuable prizes and fifteen minutes of fame?

Was this your career goal, to become the barker at a geek show? To read this crap in between breathless updates on the new CBS fall schedule and touting the latest breakthroughs in vanity surgeries under the rubric of "health" reporting? So you could cash a check without ID anywhere in Central Indiana? Job well done.

2 comments:

D. Sidhe said...

Geeks had some dignity. Killing this amazing animal doesn't.

Shark Week, all this week, has focused mainly on "Wow, look at them teeth!" and it very clearly contributes to this shit, regardless of how many low-key World Wildlife Fund commercials the Mythbusters guys do while you're scrounging for another beer.
The one show that might have done these pinheads some good was the rerun of the two year old program that points out that large tigers are *nomadic* and *exceptionally rare*, and while, yes, they have been known to kill humans, we've yet to catch the goddamned shark that did it, despite our great joy in yanking every damned fish from the water for months, every time it happens.

Honestly, the number of sharks we kill, and the asinine things we kill them for, I think we owe them a few people. And I say this as someone who swims in the ocean. We owe an awful lot of wildlife an awful lot of housepets and hikers to even *begin* to even out the misery we've caused them--and that's ignoring the damage we do to ourselves and our planet by demanding we remain the unchallenged top predator.

We're not. And any fucking moron trying to prove we are with a gun or a power winch or a longline is an asshole.
To add prize money to it is obscene, considering fuckwits like Doug Giles will go shoot canned wildebeest anyway just to prove he's got a dick.

In twenty years, assuming we're all still here, Jaws will be the world's stupidest novel, as people pick it up, read the back coevr, and say, "Oh, sure, killer sharks."
All we'll have left is spiny dogfish, assuming we don't get desperate enough to start eating those in hugely unsustainable numbers too. Shark attack? Sure.

The Great White Hunters and the fear junkies are no better at realizing their jones depends on the thing they're killing than the fishermen.

They're beautiful animals. All of them. Even the goblin shark. Even the long nosed chimera, and the bat ray. If we're ready to give up being able to see them, or even just to know they're out there, it's past time for something to give up on us.

eRobin said...

Those winch shots always get to me too. Fishing is very brutal. I can't stand it.