April 23, 2007

Signs that you've been watching too many nature documentaries

I think I may have reached my saturation point with nature documentaries.

Normally I love them, but lately the treacly anthropomorphizing voiceovers have started to grate on my nerves. Perhaps this is directly related to the fact that said voiceovers have increasingly become less about the habits of the animals onscreen and more about MAN RAPING THE PLANET OMGWTFBBQ!!11 Or maybe they've always been that way and we just haven't had entire channels dedicated to them before - whatev. I'm done.

Case in point: Planet Carnivore. I tuned in last night while enjoying my nightly glass of red wine, because the National Geographic Channel had been hyping the crap out of it, and I like the occasional reminder that nature is red in tooth and claw--it helps reinforce my stance that camping is unnatural. We built houses for a reason, folks, and part of that reason is large, befurred, toothy and roaming freely through the woods.

Anyhoo, I caught the episode dealing with our Arctic brethren. The major narrative thread involved a female polar bear who, apparently because she doesn't like to stray far from where she was born, was having trouble finding food in the UNSEASONABLY WARM WEATHER THAT IS TOTALLY OUR FAULT OMG!

Usually when confronted with the "sad pan flutes of imminent species decimation at the hands of uncaring man" and related voiceover I roll my eyes and continue watching, but last night, the following sentence just made me snap:

"[Name of female polar bear that I forgot but which is appropriately Nordic] is troubled."

No. No, the bear is not "troubled." Nor is she "pensive," "emo," or "ennui-ridden." She is HUNGRY. And possibly OVERHEATED. But not TROUBLED. Because she is a POLAR BEAR, not a member of Greenpeace.

I just - gah! I know they want to increase the level of viewer involvement with the animals onscreen, but when did the National Geographic Channel begin employing polar bear whisperers? Bears are not people. Their thought processes, from what we can scientifically ascertain, are not the same as ours, nor are their emotional lives.

Guess I'll be avoiding the upper two-hundreds on the satellite from now on.

Well, at least until Shark Week. Sharks don't do emo.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at April 23, 2007 11:20 AM

Okay, when National Geographic documentaries make you start recalling scenes of Timmy Treadwell's man-to-man with a grizzly bear after it lost a mating ritual, you know they're a lost cause. These are beautiful (albeit dangerous) animals and when they're endagered, they deserve protection, but let's not give them the souls of poets, here.

Posted by: Emily at April 23, 2007 12:09 PM

Exactly. I watch these programs to learn about wildlife, not to have a rap session with it where we share our, like, feelings.

I kept thinking to myself, "if the bear is so troubled and starved, why hasn't she eaten the cameraman who is standing right there?"

And then I started reminiscing about the Treadwell footage, and thinking that, crazed rants aside, I'd prefer watching him project his emotions onto bears over this National Geographic special.

So then I had no choice but to go to bed.

Posted by: BAW at April 23, 2007 02:06 PM

Have you been watching Planet Earth on Discovery? It has been a little preachy, no doubt, but I usually tune that garbage out anyway.

Narrator: "Melting ice caps, starving polar bear, blah blah blah...."

Jimmy's Head: Wow the HD picture of that dying polar bear is AWESOME!!! That is some unbelievable footage!

It has been amazing - so much so that I actually parted with the coin to buy the DVD set. Perhaps it was the half price internet deal.

Posted by: Jimmy at April 23, 2007 02:33 PM

Ugh! Yeah.

That kind of thing has spoiled what used to be an enjoyable evening for my husband and me also. Preachy is never very entertaining, especially when you can't quite buy into the message being preached.

Posted by: Jennifer at April 23, 2007 03:00 PM

Remember those poor baby seals that we used to club and make into coats? I read an article recently that they're now surviving, albeit briefly, to be eaten by polar bears. As a result the polar bear population is climbing dramatically. I guess it's far kinder to the baby seals to be ripped to pieces than it is for them to be clubbed on the head.

Posted by: Locomotive Breath at April 24, 2007 11:14 AM