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Bloviating Zeppelin: Grizzly Man: Today's Allegory

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Grizzly Man: Today's Allegory

I had occasion, this weekend, to rent the DVD of the movie Grizzly Man.

This was a documentary produced by German director Werner Herzog in 2005, a movie that won the 2006 Chicago Film Critics Association award for best documentary, along with best documentary awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, National Society of Film Critics, New York Film Critics Circle, Online Film Critics Society, San Francisco Film Critics Circle, 2005 Sundance Film Festival awards for best director, and Toronto Film Critics Association for best documentary.

I'm a bit behind the times. I just now rented the DVD from my local store. And at the conclusion I was astounded, dumbfounded, impressed and yet, satisfied. It was as it should have been. It's simply the way the world works.

It was unfortunate that he was killed; it was sadder still that he brought another human (37-year-old girlfriend Amie Huguenard) into the mix and she was killed as well -- evidence indicating that, though she was afraid of the bears, she stayed behind during the attack to do what she could -- despite Treadwell shouting that she should run -- and was torn apart for her efforts.

At the DVD's conclusion I thought: this is a most appropriate political allegory for our times. I wonder how many people can see it or even interpret this meaning? Allow me to define the situation and I'm certain the clouds will part for you, if they haven't already.

Timothy Treadwell was the consummate actor, showman, liar, provocateur, alcoholic, drug addict, and an excellent representative of my generation -- the Baby Boomers. Life was All About Him. Just ask him. As his parents said in the film: when he failed to get the bartender's part on Cheers that Woody Harrelson acquired, Timothy's life went downhill. And oh: Treadwell wasn't his real name either.

Somehow, somewhere he made the transition to self-styled naturalist, videographer and protector of an environment that many said, essentially, needed no protection because -- are you sitting down? -- it was already protected.

"Treadwell" saw himself as a modern day eco-warrior. This is evident in his numerous setup monologues at tripod's end. Essentially he brought two digital videocams and a tripod into the environment of Alaska's Katmai National Park -- an area that has the world's highest concentration of brown bears and Grizzlies in the world. He managed to do so for 13 years until he met the right -- or the wrong -- bear at the wrong time, on October 5th, 2003.

As Roger Ebert said in his review of the film:

"My life is on the precipice of death," Treadwell tells the camera. Yet he sentimentalizes the bears, and is moved to ecstasy by a large steaming pile of "Wendy's poop," which is still warm, he exults, and was "inside of her" just minutes earlier. He names all the bears, and provides a play-by-play commentary as two of the big males fight for the right to court "Satin."

A bear analyst, John Rogers, observed on the Katmai National Park website:

It is well known that Timothy Treadwell was an aspiring actor who worked as a waiter and bartender with problems of drug addiction and alcoholism in California. However, during the summer of 1989, he underwent a transformation so sudden and remarkable that it allowed him to survive thirteen summers of camping with brown bears before being killed and consumed by them. During this time, the world got to know Treadwell as the bear-man, the educator of children about bears, the author and film-maker, the actor and con-artist . . .


This is not to say that Treadwell did not find or engrave some very anthropomorphized images of Alaska into video. Hell, I have a Sony VX-2000 myself -- a very nice camera -- but I never thought to push the envelope as he did.

Clearly my own personal favorite scenes were not with the bears; they were with the foxes that shadowed many of his movements in the Katmai wilderness. And yet these animals were cognizant of their place in the Great Scheme of it all. They were playful, yes; but they inherently knew just where they could go and where and when.


As Treadwell did not.


An Inuit native proffered an insightful comment when he said, in essence: we respect the bears and they respect us, at a distance. Treadwell did not respect the bears and paid the ultimate price.

Treadwell and Huguenard died in this fashion: the attack came with little warning. Somehow, someone managed to activate the digital video camera but the lens cap was still present; the camera recorded a black screen but all the audio. The attack ran for some six minutes. Werner Herzog listened to the audio and recommended to the final holder of the video, former girlfriend

Wikipedia notes:

In the end, it was a single surly bear that did him in at a point later in the year than Treadwell was traditionally still living in the park. The bear that killed Treadwell and his girlfriend was not one of the bears Treadwell usually encountered. This too seems to have been confirmed by the manner of his demise. Rangers had warned Treadwell before his death that they did not want to have to harm bears to come to his rescue. In the end, two bears were killed in the effort to retrieve his remains and those of his companion. A video camera, with the lens cap in place, was recovered at the site. The video camera had been turned on at some point during the attack, presumably by Huguenard, but the camera only recorded six minutes of audio before running out of tape. Troopers who were at the scene describe the audio as chilling. There are no plans to ever make the recording public.


I really, really hope I don't have to do what I've nominally called the "logical extension" in terms of understanding how this situation plays out now.

But if explain it I must. . .

A finer allegory couldn't exist.


Blogger Dionne said...

People do strange things. Wow!! Interesting post.

Sat Jan 21, 09:23:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Interesting post.


Do the Logical Extension.

What am I saying here?

Sat Jan 21, 10:16:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Fish: nice try.

But not close to my point.

Sat Jan 21, 10:41:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon:

I SHOULDN'T have to be the prodding factor here!!

I'm not asleep yet, it's only 2300 hrs., PST.

Sat Jan 21, 11:11:00 PM PST  
Blogger Dionne said...

I'm not getting the logical extension. Are you comparing it to democrats' appeasing and wanting to be nice to terrorists???

Sun Jan 22, 02:18:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

LMC: YOU get the award!!

Treadwell tried to "understand" the bears -- he wanted to sit down and break croissants and have a nice latte with them. They tolerated him for a while or remained indifferent at best.

Until one bear, one day, simply got hungry, and the food chain was complete.

We in America tend to assign American feelings, thought patterns and processes to those from other countries. To anthropomorphize them. Why CAN'T we simply sit down with terrorists and get them to "understand?" It certainly SOUNDS logical, does it not?

Except that's not their inclination. That's not how their culture, religion and philosophy operate -- their thinking patterns.

Why COULDN'T those bears understand the love Timothy Treadwell felt towards them? Why couldn't they understand he was their protector?

It wasn't at all about reality -- it was ALL ABOUT HIM and how he FELT.

Now, how many political parties and believers can you apply that to?

Wait, wait, I know, I know!!

Sun Jan 22, 04:13:00 PM PST  
Blogger bigwhitehat said...

Ewww. Grizzly.

Mon Jan 23, 10:06:00 AM PST  
Blogger Dionne said...

Sorry it took me so long to get that :-). You make a great point. And the sad thing is I can see some other idiot continuing to do the same thing right after watching his friend get eaten by the bear.

Just the same as liberals watch the beheading of person after person by muslim extremists and yet still think we can sit down and talk with them.

Mon Jan 23, 10:07:00 AM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...


Thu Jan 26, 08:49:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your logical extension is a fallacy, regardless of your political background. Nice bloviating.

Fri Aug 29, 08:23:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That picture isn't of Tim - Part of his head and the top of his spine was all that was left after the bear(s) eating him for two days.

"Why COULDN'T those bears understand the love Timothy Treadwell felt towards them? Why couldn't they understand he was their protector?"

Er, because one is a bear and one is a human?! If you've done any research on the subject you would find that many of the bears known to them didn't see the couple as a threat. The bear that killed them was unknown to them and was doing what was in its nature and feeding itself to survive.

"We in those from other countries...Why CAN'T we simply sit down with terrorists and get them to "understand?" It certainly SOUNDS logical, does it not?"

America to 'other countries' to terrorists. No that doesn't sound logical.

If the humans (Americans in your anthropomorphism) hadn't been so moronic, both sides would still be alive. The bear did nothing wrong, you can hardly say the same for terrorists!

Thu Sep 10, 06:12:00 PM PDT  
Blogger 2twins said...

What a disturbing image. How did they get palm fronds like that in Katmai, again? And, I don't recall that the decedent's penis was intact, like that victim's.

Impressive, though, that you exhumed the right Brown Bear body count from this incident: 2.

Coastal Grizzlies, if you like, or Ak. Brown Bears. Same dif.

Thu Feb 17, 11:48:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Anonymous comment 1: how sad that you cannot apparently see past your nose. Or you are not a member of the Boomers. A thing is its nature and generally cannot be changed.

Anonymous 2: yes, correct, that is a "prototypical" shot of another incident entirely. But it grabs the attention and draws one into the story. And again, I repeat, a thing is its nature and generally cannot be changed, particularly in the animal world. Such as: bears.

So yes, Mr Treadwell was indeed silly and, further, KNEW that one day he would die by bears. Proven.


Fri Feb 18, 11:20:00 AM PST  

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