Come back, David Attenborough
One of the big attractions of getting satellite television, I reckoned, was the access to wildlife and documentary channels. Great was my disappointment then, when I struggled to find anything on them I’d really like to watch. Endless eco-horror stories about deadly predators. Also, a never-ending supply of men who want to wrestle with unwary crocodiles and other reptiles. Or else documentaries about moving incredibly large objects, like buildings. For heaven’s sake.
As for those Ice Truckers whooshing back and forth endlessly along this dread white highway and making vapid comments…. I have no words.
OK, admittedly I am a dedicated David Attenborough fan. I just love that hushed respectful voice as he indicates some animal behind him going about its interesting daily business. And I must say I thought I was more or less on my own here. So many people used to rave to me about Steve Irwin and how he got them interested in animals. So I bit my tongue and rather watched a DVD by the Jouberts in Botswana.
Then I read an article in Time magazine by Andrew Marshall. With an inimitable title (”Tie Me Animals Down, Sport. Beware of the gonzo nature TV-presenter”) he proceeds to voice exactly what I’ve been loathing.
“I’ve given up on finding a show that teaches us how to live in harmony with animals. Instead, we invade their habitats, and when they defend themselves, we brand them violent. ... Through nature TV, we’re now demonizing all wild creatures to make us feel better about precipitating their extinction.”
Andrew Marshall is my new hero.
Having said that, I must say that I have all kinds of admiration for a new generation of eco-activist documentaries, like The Cove and Gasland.
I am encouraged that all of us have the ability to record what is going on around us. All of us are bearing witness and more importantly, able to share the good, the bad and the ugly with others on a massive scale - the first generation ever to do so.