Monday, September 04, 2006

Steve Irwin: 1962 - 2006

Sadly the hits just keep on coming. Perhaps one of our highest profile exports in recent times, Steve Irwin died today after being speared through the chest by a stingray while diving off the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, while filming a segment for an upcoming series. As as been reported that this is only the third known fatality in Australian history from a stingray attack (the other two deaths being in 1938 and 1945), and as stingrays are better known as being defensive creatures, there's already speculation surrounding the circumstances of his death. As the attack was probably filmed we may discover if Irwin was attempting to interact with the ray in a manner it felt was hostile or threatening and it merely chose to defend itself in the only way it knows how. If that is the case, then it's a wasted death, a stupid death and one that an environmentalist such as Irwin should have easily avoided.

Typically John Howard got his oar in by making a public comment about Irwin and totally ignoring the passing of Colin Thiele. This should come as no great surprise to anyone as Thiele was a quiet man, publicity wise, and Irwin was very much the creation of media hype. There's no ratings for Howard to comment on Thiele, there is, however, publicity for him attached to the Irwin tragedy.

And tragic it is. For Irwin to die in the manner he did is a crying shame. He did more to raise the awareness of conservation in the eyes of youth than anyone else of his generation, following in the footsteps of environmentalists such as Harry Butler. However Irwin enjoyed a prickly relationship with the media in recent years - his handling of his son around crocodiles in 2004 drew worldwide criticism, and sadly Irwin didn't make his life any easier by publicly attacking the media - the same vehicle that raised his profile to the heights it reached. I don't think there were too many people who felt that Irwin would grow old gracefully, his life was one of danger, both real and stage-managed, and sadly it was one of the real dangers that eventually caught him.

2 comments:

Tim said...

He was my age, 44. He will be missed. My son thought he was great.

stephen clark said...

I agree with you about the Thiele-Irwin contrast and Howard's opportunism.
Do you really think Irwn was an environmentalist. I think he was a consummate entertainer. Not that you can't be both.