Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Crikey, Steve Irwin's gone

Posted on Atrios' blog:

When I was young (in the 1970's) one of my favorite shows was "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" hosted by Marlin Perkins. That show was the ONLY show of its kind on the tube in those pre-cable days. Nowhere else would you see wildlife in their natural environment, or learn about the efforts of naturalists to preserve them in the face of the ever-expanding human encroachment on their habitat. That show, more than any other, made we aware of environmental issues and shaped my views in ways that still affect me today.

After "Wild Kingdom" went off the air and Jacques Cousteau's (the other great 70's TV naturalist) "Undersea World" sank beneath the waves, there were practically NO shows about animals on TV that I was aware of. Even with the coming of cable, and the National Geographic specials and TLC and Discovery, none of the shows really engaged me like "Wild Kingdom" had done.

Then I was flipping channels one day and saw this goofy Australian straight out of central casting talking about crocodiles. I was born and raised in Louisiana so I'm quite aware of their not-quite-cousins (alligators), and he seemed really excited so I stopped to watch. At the end of the show it hit me: this was the first naturalist since Marlin Perkins who really made his work INTERESTING, even fun to watch. Steve Irwin blazed a trail for the resurgence of the TV naturalist. His ability to connect with the audience and make wildlife understandable to people who may not know the first thing about King Brown snakes other than as menaces to be killed was a priceless gift. All of us, especially those of us on the left who are supposed to view the environment as something to be preserved rather than merely as a source of raw materials, have lost one of our most valuable advocates. It's not too much of a stretch to compare his loss to the natural world with JFK's loss to the United States politically, or Princess Diana's to the world, in terms of love and respect for a fundamentally decent person who tried to do their best.

The Scenic Route to 9/11

ABC is putting out this "docudrama", called "The Path to 9/11." So far everything I've read about it says that it's a Clinton hatchet-job; it's all Clinton's fault, you see, because he didn't kill Osama.

The lefty blogosphere is of course not taking this lying down. I posted my own comment to the official blog of the movie:

I bet moderating the comments here is a fun job.

9/11 is simply too highly charged for a fictionalized "docudrama." How many
"docudramas" were made about Pearl Harbor? "Tora Tora Tora" stuck with the
facts, and was highly acclaimed. "Midway" went for docudrama and invented a
nonexistent story for Charlton Heston's character, and was not nearly as good as
a result. The Kennedy assassination? Oliver Stone's "JFK" forsook accuracy for
"docudrama," and the real-life Jim Garrison disavowed it.

When you deal with historical events, especially those that were traumatic like
Pearl Harbor and 9/11, as filmmakers you have a duty to remain faithful to the
actual history. Any deviations in the name of "drama" are almost inevitably
going to be seen as cheap theatrics and will tarnish your effort.