myspace layouts, myspace codes, glitter graphics Totally Biased Book and Movie Review: Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter Review

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter Review

In Loving memory of Steve Irwin, "Crocodile Hunter"
born: February 22, 1962
died: September 4, 2006
Wildlife conservationist, television star, family man, awesome guy

The earliest memory I have of the late, great Steve Irwin was when I was up, a god awful hour of the night, with a fussy baby on my lap, my eyes grainy and my head numb, basically a walking, talking zombie…read “New Mother”… and I was flipping aimlessly through the channels, trying to find something to distract me.

Something to get my mind off the stench of vomit that seemed to rise from my clothes, my hair, god, the very pores of my skin. (And poo…did I mention the baby poo?)Something to refresh my weary brain that had thought of nothing but diapers and pacifiers and nursing bras for the past months. Something that would make me forget that I was responsible for the life of this squirming, crying thing flopping itself around in my arms, completely uninterested in any kind of soothing I might have up my sleeve, and to be quite honest, I was running short on soothing tricks. I was looking for something to capture my attention, something that would strike my interest, something, on the six hundred thousand million channels selling Ronco products and re-running The Beverly Hillbillies and Love Boat, 24-7, that was different.

I don’t know if I deliberately ended my surfing on “The Crocodile Hunter”, or if a magical genie (perhaps the genie assigned to bewildered new mothers the world over) pressed my finger on just the right button to stop the drifting on Steve Irwin’s face. That shaggy hair creeping over the collar of his khaki shirt. That big and brassy grin, the twinkling eyes, the aura of good nature and confidence, topped off with the sometimes almost un-understandable Aussie drawl. He was holding a dangling snake in front of his face, deftly ducking his head backward to avoid the slashing fangs. “Oh she’s a beaut, alright,” he breathlessly shared with the camera. “Looker getting all puffed up. Whatsmatter. Girl? You getting a lil upset with me?” A wide grin split his face as she darts at his chin again, a bite he narrowly avoided. “Oh yes, she’s brave and tough, yes she is,” he added in tones usually reserved for beloved toy poodles and fluffy cats with jeweled collars. The love he bore for this vicious retile was obviously real. Vaguely interested at first, and then spellbound, I sat there watching this strange man leading a sometimes-afraid, but always willing-to-try American woman through a jungle like environment, whispering animal facts over his shoulder at her, encouraging her to hurry up. I noticed, at some point, my son had fallen silent as well, perhaps soothed by Steve's harsh whispers, maybe only sensing the peace that had suddenly overcome me. It became a regular habit, those nights, for he and I to plop ourselves down in front of the screen and get revved up for another crazy outback adventure with Mr. Irwin and his companion, the intrepid and way-braver-than-me Terri.

At first I thought the woman was a journalist who had signed on to follow this outback man around, ala Crocodile Dundee. It was only after some serious watching that I understood that Terri was his wife, that his name was Steve, that by crikey, the guy was crazy, and fun, and absolutely fantastic. He bore little to no resemblance to the croc-killing Dundee of movie fame. Steve would never kill a croc, he’d catch them gently, and cover their eyes with his palms to keep them calm, and he’d speak soothing words to them while they were being relocated to a safe place, for them and for people. Steve Irwin, although he was called the Crocodile Hunter, was actually more of the Crocodile Champion, the Crocodile Lover, the Crocodile Man.

I told people about the show… “Have you ever seen Crocodile Hunter?”

“The one where the guy goes to New York…?”

“No, not Crocodile Dundee, this is different. It’s a show on Animal Planet. His name’s Steve? He’s…really Australian? Has a long, ponytailed wife named Terri? He says ‘by crikey’ a lot?”

“Nope never heard of it.”

“Oh boy, are YOU missing out!” It was then my delight and my duty, I felt, to explain exactly what Crocodile Hunter was, who Steve and Teri were, what it was all about. One by one, I trapped friends and family members at my house, turning on CD while they were helpless to escape and had to watch this show I’d been raving about, whether or not they wanted to. I used to watch their faces, as they went from indulgent indifference to the same thing I remember spreading across my features- amazement, awe, fascination, excitement. This guy was different. This guy was crazy. This guy was cooler than shit. And by that, I mean the shit that is cool shit, not stinky shit. He was THE Shit. On every level.

Over the next decade or so, I watched Steve and Terri faithfully, every chance I got. I cried when Sui the dog, their companion on many adventures and a model for “pitbulls” the world over, died. I laughed when they named their firstborn after that dog and one of Steve’s favorite crocodiles, Bindi. I winced when the (rare) bite occurred. I smiled proudly as Terri grew braver, and braver, leaving behind the (almost) timid girl from the first shows and stepping up next to her husband, helping blaze forward on their conservation trail. I ran ( not walked) to the theater to see his movie, and despite its somewhat cheesy nature, I simply pretended to be a mouse and ate it up, because, hello, it was STEVE. I scoffed at the people who thought Steve was putting little Bob in jeopardy while holding him and feeding a crocodile. If there was a man on earth that could be trusted to keep his children “safe” from a croc, that’d be Steve.

He was larger than life, a personality that seemed too big to fit inside a mere human skin. He took chances that made you gasp, said things that made you burst into laughter. He was a self-proclaimed wildlife warrior, and every rabid fan, like me, knew that someday, something might happen to him. Involving teeth or fangs or…something. But you never really worried about Steve. (Opposite to how I felt about Timothy Treadwell, admiring his dedication but softly whistling at his foolishness. When Tim died, I was sad, but not surprised.)

Not the case with Steve Irwin. He seemed invincible. The dancing away from the dangerous snake mouth, the flying leaps onto alligator backs, the dodging of nightmare-inducing spiders, the running down of venomous lizards- all of it seemed enchanted, he was enchanted.

Invincible.

When I heard the news of his death, I was stunned, and then crushed. Wait a minute, I thought, this cannot be right. I mean, a stingray? Those things are practically harmless! Stabbed in the heart? Dead instantly?

What what WHAT?

Followed quickly by …NO NO NO!

And thoughts along the lines of….He did so much good! He was so full of life! He had such a loving, close family! So many friends, fans, admirers! He knew wildlife so well! How could this happen? Why would this happen? HOW would this happen? (Only three Australians have been killed by stingrays, Steve being the third). It is a freak accident of the highest irony, absolutely unexplainable and unexpected, nothing anyone could ever foresee and the last possible way anyone would ever think Steve would die.

It sunk in slowly. I’m not ashamed to say I cried. A lot.

He wasn’t only my company on lonely, fussy baby nights. He was my teacher. I learned more about wildlife from him in one half hour than from all the Jack Hanna television specials I ever watched, combined. He taught me that some animals which seem to have no function other than to terrorize we fragile humans, are simply misunderstood, that everything has a place, a reason. He saw the big picture, how all the puzzle pieces fit, and he was dedicated, with every breath of his body, to teaching others everything he knew. I admired him…”tremendously” isn’t even an effective word.

He was my hero.

If I’m mourning Steve so hard, I can’t imagine what his family is feeling, his friends, even those lucky people who actually met him face-to-face. The world has lost a valuable human. He did so much, for animals and environment, and educating stupid viewers like me. With humor, with passion, with energy and life and love. If you don’t know him, who he was, if you never watched him (and I‘m sure there are five or seven people out there that didn’t) trust me on this one. The man was one-of-a-kind. Unique. Broke the mold after making him and all of those other things you say when you cannot find the quite-right words to say, Damn this guy is irreplaceable!!!!! If my views on snakes and spiders and sharks were changed by Steve’s teaching, I imagine there are countless others who were taught alongside me. So…here’s the big Q, the one we always have to ask, even if not out loud, when something of this ironic magnitude, of this absolute senselessness, happens. I’m wondering, ok, where was God that day? Was He or She or They, just not watching? I’ve always believed in the Big Plan, the things we cannot see… the silver lining and the hidden blessing, but it’s hard, really hard, to see it here.

Perhaps his death will bring about a conservation wave, a huge tidal wave that cannot be stopped. Perhaps laws will be passed through his memory, animals and earth will be saved. Perhaps his death will not be in vain. People are donating in his name, as per the family’s request, to Wildlife Warriors. Perhaps. I don’t know, I don’t pretend to know, I only take meager and thin comfort from thoughts like these. Words his wife probably wants to slap people for. Words that won’t bring their daddy back to his young children. Words that don’t change the reality that he is gone… no more Crocodile Hunter… no more Steve Irwin, no matter who tries to carry it on, even Terri, they won’t be him- larger than life and bursting with joy and excitement and enthusiasm, carrying you along on a ride you didn’t even intend to get on… and his loss will be felt by me, and many others, like a big, ugly hole in the fabric of the world.

“When I talk to the camera, mate, it's not like I'm talking to the camera, I'm talking to you because I want to whip you around and plunk you right there with me.”- Steve Irwin

It worked, Steve.

Rest in Peace.

5 Comments:

Blogger Angel Feathers Tickle Me said...

Love to all....

5:48 PM  
Anonymous alethegoodsoul said...

I... I feel the same way (minues the baby and the crying). He was the greatest.

And I hated Jack Hanna with a passion too... damn him!

7:51 PM  
Blogger Mighty Michele said...

This is too good, so beautiful. Steve Irwin Forever.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to your website to look at the 2996 project and read about this. It's unfortunate that your blog is turning into a memorial, but you write beautifully and will honor them in the way they deserve. Thank you for that!

1:43 AM  
Blogger Meowkaat said...

He was incredible, wasn't he?
As far as it being unfortunate that my blog is becoming a memorial, yeah, I agree. Unfortunate in the way it is when there's sunshine on a day that forecast rain. Lives like Steve's deserve a good review. I’m happy to be alive to do it. I hope someone reviews my life after I die, only it probably won’t say much more than: “Yep, she had opinions.”

8:56 AM  

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