Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Decontructing Irwin: culture wars on the homefront

Hold tight and watch as the death of Irwin morphs into a wider debate on patriotism, celebrity, national identity, and gender.
Germaine Greer has waded in this morning with an opinion piece on her disdain for Irwin's methods. Irrespective of the merit or otherwise of Greer's comments, the poor timing of her words ensures they will be interpreted by many as a slap in the face to men who relate to and respect Irwin's contribution to Australia, and the young mothers comforting their children on the loss of their hero.
The ironic tragedy of these comments is that they will only serve to further distance many reasonable working class young men and women from contemporary feminist dialogue, something, Greer, of all people should avoid.

Irwin's approach may be a 'boys own' adventure, but to be fair, i've never seen David Attenborough's wife standing shoulder to shoulder with him as he traipsed the world, and Terri Irwin, as Greer seems to have conveniently overlooked, is a stunning example of a woman who is not afraid to get her hands dirty.


tigtog said...

I can't refute her criticisms, harshly phrased though they are, but as you say, the timing!

Greer is too wedded to the role of iconoclast.

the sublimely suburban gothic cowgirl said...

Yes TIgTog, thanks for popping in ! Yes, he did harrass the animals no doubt about it but yes, it is the timing thats the problem.

Greer's 'barbs' at this point in the public process do come across as an opportunistic kick of the freshly dead, and i guess this time i care because i'm deeply committed to creating opportunitites for dialogue with men around isues of feminism and relationships. (i've just come out of a long stint working in the field of Domestic Violence.)

She's not the only one seizing the moment for her own attention mind you, mind you - punters are listing Irwin memorabilia on Ebay with abandon, and Colin Buchanen, kids entertainer has just written a 'tribute song' to Steve.
To be expected i guess.

Lets just hope we do get some creative dialogue on our contemporary Australian identity out of it!

Ungrateful Troublemaker said...

I'm starting to get used to incredibly bad or unintentionally inflammatory timing it something for which the new millenium will be remembered.

Andrew Bartlett said...

Good point about Terri

and Greer's comments were crap, and would still be crap (if somewhat less insensitive) if she had waited a year before she said them.

undoubtedly Steve Irwin provoked animals and no doubt exploited some as part of his activities, but he also undoubtedly had a love for nature.

I'm sure he did a bunch of stuff I wouldn't approve of, but so does almost everybody (including me).

However, from everything I can tell, he was both absurdly over the top and very genuine - which is a pretty rare combination.

I'm reasonably strong on animal rights issues, so anyone that runs a zoo is always going to have a bit of a question mark over them. But he was at least smart enough to recognise the dangers of commercial consumption of wildlife (including crocodiles).

If Germaine Greer was a vegetarian, I might be slightly more sympathetic to her flaming. But until she speaks out against the horrendous cruelty involved in factory farming of pigs, cows, sheep, chickens and more, it's hard to take seriously her concerns about a few animals in the wild being scared and poked.

It's also sickly ironic to see the mass media lionising the guy, when the same mass media less than three years ago was labelling him a child abuser and an unfit parent for taking his young baby into a crocodile pen.

the sublimely gothic cowgirl said...

YOu know i always felt sorry for him over the baby bob incident. While it was rather daft to take the bub into the cage, he clearly was a Dad who adored his kids and the media comparisions with Micheal Jackson must have hurt.

WHo hasn't done stupid things as a parent?

Crossing a busy street with a baby is arguably far more risky.