Germaine Greer Hammers Steve Irwin in Life, And Death
By Darryl Mason
The UK media is ripping into the issue of whether or not Australians were divided on their feelings about Australia's most famous man, Steve Irwin. Did we love Irwin more than we hated him? What did he contribute to the image of Australians across the world?
Was he a hero of Australian conservation? Or just a loundmouth nest raider? Protector of rare fauna? Or exploiter of defenceless animals for fame and profit?
It doesn't seem to be an issue in the minds of most Australians right now, he died a tragic, way too early death and his kids and wife are crushed. There's been little outright hate on display in the majority of Australians' reactions, not that you would expect there to be.
But there have been plenty of comments amongst the tens of thousands of comments listed on Oz sites that meander around : "I never liked his show, but..." and "I couldn't stand him, but my kids loved him".
Writer Germaine Greer decided some time last night that she wasn't going to wait even a few days before she put the boot into Irwin's still warm corpse.
She lets rip today in the UK Guardian :
"The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin..."
Ahh, yeah, right.
Greer has taken the Gaia concept to a frightening new level of Nature collectively fighting back against those who dare intrude upon its sacred spaces.
According to Greer, all the world's animals apparently shared a blood-thirsty dislike of Steve Irwin and finally decided they couldn't tolerate his presence in their habitats any longer.
The unified world animal mind issued the call for Irwin to be X-ed and a 2.5 metre long stingray off Port Douglas carried out the hit, efficiently and effectively.
As the Chaser sang on the ABC last year, after she wrote of her visual admiration for the bodies of young boys : "What will that crazy old Germ say next?"
What Irwin never seemed to understand was that animals need space. The one lesson any conservationist must labour to drive home is that habitat loss is the principal cause of species loss.Greer seems to miss the point, by obviously never having given his shows more than a grimaced glance, that Irwin well understood that to get his message of conservationism over to the next generation, and to ram home just how spectacular and wonderful the creatures of Australia really were, he would have to be more entertaining, more vivid, more over-the-top than everything else on television, or in the video game console.
There was no habitat, no matter how fragile or finely balanced, that Irwin hesitated to barge into, trumpeting his wonder and amazement to the skies. There was not an animal he was not prepared to manhandle. Every creature he brandished at the camera was in distress.
David Attenborough's kept a whispering distance from his televisual prey, most of the time, and it worked for the kids of the 60s and 70s.
Irwin reached hundreds of millions of people, mostly children, and instilled in them a love and respect for the wild world which will reap huge rewards for their generation and the animal world.
Greer seems to think that Irwin has inspired children to tromp into unexplored jungles and wrench animals out of the trees and shake them around for fun, or that they will put themselves in dangerous proximity to lethal creatures trying to be like their hero.
But the number of children getting bitten by snakes and spiders, particularly in Australia, has plunged in recent years, and some of that must surely be attributed to what usually followed a classic Irwin wild-eyed rant - a quiet, stern warning that kids must keep their distance from dangerous animals and respect them and their habitat.
If she'd actually watched his shows, no doubt Greer would be aware of this.