Lately, it takes something mind-blowingly amazing, stupefying, and/or unbelievable to inspire me to log into to Blogger and jot some thoughts down. Cheney's hunting "accident" (glug, glug) came close, but every pundit and late-night comedian in the country has already echoed my own thoughts in full, plus interest. Wiretapping? State of the Union? Sure, they piss me off as much as the next rational person, but anger eats up a lot of energy, and constantly tapping into it for the sake of a blog that almost no one reads can be exhaustuing. Plus, complaining about Bush lately is an exercise in futility. The Democrats can't get their shit together, can't figure how to speak to the American people like they're not all six years old, can't offer a concrete alternative, and thus probably won't win back a majority in Congress. Hence, there'll be nobody in power to hold Bush accountable, so we're stuck with him.
Last night, though, I saw something that I just can't get out of my head. Thoughts about it, thoughts of disbelief, keep swirling around my mind like mosquitos. The stupidity, audacity, and unbridaled ignorance I witnessed were frightening, even more so for the genuine reverence and admiration it has received from more than a few.
My only comfort is found in the fact that I didn't watch any of this in real time, and was blessed by the seperation of chronology and a TV screen.
All right, so I'm exxagerating a little bit, but seriously, if you need a refresher course in human stupidity, stop by your local Blockbuster tonight and pick up a copy of Grizzly Man
, the much-hyped documentary about Timothy Treadwill, a self-proclaimed "grizzly bear expert" who wandered through wild Alaska like it was a Care Bears picturebook for 13 summers. Each year, he would camp out in the Alaskan wilderness, alone and weaponless, and "protect" these magnificient beasts by intruding on their territory, interrupting their habits and routines, getting in their faces, and repeatedly telling them, "I love you."
Even if you haven't seen the movie, you may have heard about him a few years back, when one of his friends ripped him and his girlfriend apart and made a meal out of them.
What bothered me about this movie was not Treadwill's apparent intentions. I'm an animal lover myself and don't want to see them exploited, abused, illegally hunted and/or wiped out. But it's disheartening -no, horrifying- to watch this guy and realize the depths human stupidity can reach. He puts his camera right up in their faces. He sneaks up and touches them when they're eating, touches baby cubs in plain sight of their mother. He sticks his finger in their faces
. Even a seven-year old
knows that you shouldn't stick your finger in an animal's face, not even a friggin' squirrel. But in this forty-something's mind, it's not antagonizing them, it's protecting them, it's loving them. Had he not died at the paws of a hungry bear, he may very well have electrocuted himself by trying to befriend an electrical socket with his wet finger.
Just as bad is the high esteem so many seemed hold him in. People in his "charity," Grizzly People (not a registered non-profit, btw), have no shortage of praise for him in the film, which the director, Werner Herzog, doesn't dare challenge or barely question. But this isn't just amazing- it's downright sad when Treadwell's completely unhinged mental state becomes apparent. In his own documentary footage, he cries when he happens upon a bee that died on a flower while pollinating it. "I love you," he weeps to the bee. Ditto for a baby fox that became dinner for a pack of wolves. He tries to uphold its diginity by shooing flies away from it. "Get out of here, flies," he hisses. "Don't eat him in front of me!"
Oh, and then there's the bear shit he worships like a newborn baby. "I know it's poop, but it was a part of that bear!" he says in wonderment. "Oooh, it's still warm!" he gushes as he puts his hand all over the bear shit.
Yep. And schools apparently let this guy give talks to elementary school kids. Amazing world we live in. Some semblance of balance (sanity?) comes from an interview with one wildlife expert, who had mixed feelings about Treadwell. "The bears must've thought, 'This guy must be mentally retarded,'" he says (which is the first I've heard about mental retardation being an issue in the bear community, BTW).
None of this is to say I didn't like "Grizzly Man." On the contrary, much of the footage Treadwell captured of the bears and Alaskan wildlife in general is amazing, and the cautious bond that the wild foxes build with him (a real bond, I should stress, not an imagined one as with the bears) is touching. And to say the least, it's incredibly thought-provoking. I just can't say that those thoughts are, well, positive. You might even find yourself a little pissed off by the whole spectacle.
Incidentally, I'm exhausted now. Time for more coffee.