I tried really hard not to post about this today. I mean really
hard. But, you know, it just couldn't be helped.
I'd like to start by saying that of course, it's a terrible thing that someone is a widow tonight, and that two small children have lost their father. But, really, can't the media response be tempered, just a little bit? The main offenders, naturally, were GMTV. As far as television's favourite tabloid news programme was concerned, this story was clearly an absolute gift. There was
no other news this morning as far as they were concerned. The problem was, they really couldn't decide what angle they were coming at it from.
Should they focus on Steve the family man? Brave conservationist, friend of the animals, Australia's favourite son? Well yes, and for a minute they did. He was altruistic, outspoken, a true ambassador for his cause. Then it was off for a frenzy of Daily Mail-shock how-could-he photo montages of Steve Irwin variously poking snakes with a stick, baiting large lizards and waving his month-old son at a crocodile. He was irresponsible, egotistical and blinded by the reflected glare of his own fame. Yes! That was it! Except, oh...hang on! Here comes a random third-rate celebrity to talk about how only the good are taken so young....and bang! We've segued into a lovely, heartwarming piece about how Gloria Hunniford's widowed son-in-law is getting married again and how Gloria's all fine with that. Restores your faith in human nature, doesn't it?
GMTV were also at the forefront of the "at least he died doing something he loved" brigade. Now this, I don't buy. He might well have been having a lovely time, swimming around with
misunderstood stingrays, but since the net result was travelling home in a box I'm pretty sure he'd rather have spent the morning going over his tax return, or doing the grocery shopping, or something.
As for the grief tourists, well. They're out in force. The BBC news site started a comments page for "tributes", and is currently running to thirty six pages! Thirty six! It's a little bit beyond me, that's all. On the other hand, maybe it's in no better taste to lean the other way.
I'll leave you with pasty, pragmatic Ray Mears' take on the whole thing*. Ray doesn't have many friends, I don't think. I can sort of see why. Not content with opining that "the incident served as a warning that some things in nature should be left alone"
, he felt moved to add that".....he clearly took a lot of risks and television encouraged him to do that,"
Mr Mears said. "The voyeurism we are seeing on television has a cost and it's that cost Steve Irwin's family are paying today."
Thanks Ray, for those kind words. I'm sure the family take great comfort.
* Ray whittled this response into a piece of solid oak that he had hewn from the living trunk using a saw fashioned from flint, hazel twigs and his own semen. Ray Mears currently lives alone. In a ditch. In Slough.