Monday, September 04, 2006

So. Farewell Then, Steve Irwin

Steve Irwin and friendAn Spailpín senses a very real sorrow among people about the sudden and tragic death this morning of Steve Irwin, famous for his “Crocodile Hunter” TV shows. An Spailpín is inclined to think there are two reasons for this, why we all should feel this sorrow and lost kinship with a man who was, on the surface, just another face on the telly.

The first has to do with the sudden and utterly unexpected nature of Irwin’s death. This is an age of “wellness,” where people watch their health and diets and people live longer than ever before. As such, it is deeply disquieting to be reminded that the Angel of Death is always flying about, picking his targets with his customary awful and terrifying randomness. Not a happy thought.

The other thing that strikes me about Steve Irwin is how acutely disarming he was, as a media personality, in this media age. Ours is now the age of the post-ironic, where everything is presented through a sheen of ironic comment, where everyone is too cool for school. It is not the done thing to like things or to be enthusiastic; the done thing is to affect a Tennyson-esque “Oh! I am weary, weary! I wish that I were dead!” attitude, where everything that happens in the world is somehow beneath one’s great intellect, which operates on a higher plateau. It is interesting to know that the less intelligent the presenter the more pronounced this world-weariness is. And the less likely they have read their Tennyson, of course.

Steve Irwin was the antithesis of this. Steve Irwin loved what he did, and loved sharing what he knew. There was a tremendous boyish innocence to his schtick which was disarming and global because in our hearts we don’t want to be weary, weary, and wishing we were dead; we would sooner ally with that other Tennysonian hero and drink life to the lees, would that we were let. Steve Irwin did all that, and was not behind the door about how much he loved it. As far as Steve was concerned, everything was bonzer. Go bhfaighe sé an spéis is spleodar céanna agus eisean imithe anois ar slí na fírinne. Ar dhéis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

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