Mocking the Bears

November 17, 2010 § 2 Comments

There is no questioning the bravery of Timothy Treadwell. He choose to live unarmed and unprotected with bears for over 36,000 hours. I agree with him when he says there must be something special about him that kept him alive all this time. He crossed the boundary between bears and humans ultimately  living more in their world than in the human world. To him, the bears were is friends and family and the alaskan wilderness was his home. I respect his love of nature, but question his motives for living with the bears and his actions towards them.

He called himself, the protector of the bears. While yes, there is a small amount of bear poaching going on in the world, for the majority of his summers, Treadwell “protected” the bears on a national park where they were already protected. I agree with the article “Exit pursued by a Bear” written by David Edelstein in that Treadwell idealized the bears. Throughout the movie he expresses his emotions towards the bear saying “I love you! I love you!” and naming them Mr. Chocolate and Freckles. These are names of endearment. Treadwell suggests that he fits in their world better then human world. The bears are Treadwells life’s mission and he is ok with that.

However, the reality of grizzly bears is that they are huge dangerous animals who have no consideration or respect for human life. This is ultimately what killed Treadwell. To him, the bears were his family, but to the bears, Treadwell was nothing but food.

His mission was to educate the world about Grizzly bears. He did this by showing their “lovable” side, if you can call it that. Treadwell filmed his interactions with the bears where he is attempting to pet them. I think that this is a horrible educational technique. Bears are meant to be respected from a distance not befriended. By teaching the children that bears “can be” friendly to an extent, Treadwell is undermining the isolation and freedom of the bears. Throughout the film he is trying to force the bears to be something that they are naturally not.

In watching the film, I gained no love for the bears. Ultimately, it was the lovable characteristics foxes that stood out to me.

Herzog’s Darkness

November 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

According to the 1-world films website, Werner Herzog is one of the most eccentric figures in the New German Cinema. He has made a name for himself by being over the top and intense in every aspect of his life. Not only is he rumored to have walked from Munich to Paris (over 500 miles) just to prove a point, but he also has seriously promised to eat his shoe. Herzog isn’t a jovial character. He is serious about his life and his work. During an interview when a sniper began to shoot at him, Herzog calmly said, “We are being shot at” and the attempted to finish the interview. What makes most people freak out or stress, does not faze Herzog.

When reading these stories, immediately the image of a tall, dark man came to mind. This man never smiles or laughs. He is completely serious and devoted to his work. He never takes the easy way out, and his films are a reflection of his inner and outer coldness and darkness.

When pairing this director with a title like Grizzly Man, I was expecting nothing short of a horror film. In my mind, the opening scene would be a man walking at night and being attacked by a bear. When we began watching, I was shocked to discover it was a documentary about a man connecting with nature and grizzly bears. Throughout the first few scenes, I wondered where the darkness of Herzog was. Why did everything seem so happy?

The film carried on to explore the death of the protagonist, Timothy Treadwell. What seemed at first to be the life story of Treadwell, transitioned into focusing about the negatives of his work and eventually the significance of his death. I felt that as we learned more and more about the death of Timothy Treadwell, Herzog’s dark side began to show through.

Domestication

October 25, 2010 § 2 Comments

Domestication is always considered a bad thing, its the taking away of freedom and natural instinct. The thoughf of caging up a wild animal seems cruel and unusual. At first, animals resist domestication, relying on their own defense mechanisms and the instinct that had kept them alive previously. But after a while, they surrender to the cage. Dogs were domesticated thousands of years ago so the thought of them being wild is hard to imagine. I am always envious of the life dogs get to lead. They sleep, play, get pet and they get fed, the life of a king. It seems like the perfect life by any standard however its interesting to think that this is not the “natural” life of a dog, that if at the time of domesticatino they were given the chance to stay wild, they would have. I cant imagine a world with out dogs.

Technology Addiction?

October 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Modern day society is addicted to technology. The thought of turning off our cell phone for a day makes many uneasy. Similarly, without facebook, ichat and email, few people would be able to maintain contact with friends. I have great respect for those who lived without the ease of modern day technology, as the author of Change or Perish stated, they “got by just the same”. Life back then is so drastically different from modern day life that while i respect those who “managed”, i do not envy them or wish to return to their time.

This article, although written elegantly, has a few flaws. It chastises only modern developments while praising technology of the past. The author discusses the value of returning to a time when movies were plain in black and white with out “hi-def or even 3-d”, suggesting these advancements have complicated the purpose and simplicity of movies in general. But what about the time when there were no movies at all, when entertainment was all in person. One could argue, using the exact same logic as the author of this article, that movies made entertainment impersonal and were unnecessary because “we did get by just the same” before them. So then what sets that advancement apart from bettering the quality of movies to be hi def or 3-d?

Also, the last statement is not well thought through in my opinion. It states “how strange to think we had to change everything or we would not be managing at all”. This is flawed in two ways. First is the use of the word “had.” We did not have to change, but if given the option to make something better, faster or easier, why turn it down? Secondly is the use of the word everything. Although the time thought of as “before” in this article shifts depending on what part of technology is being discussed, i can pin point it to be in the early to mid 1900s. Since then, there have been many new inventions, however, everything has not changed.

How far does the argument that new technology negatively impacts society go back? Society has always been and will always continue to change and make itself better. If the idea is that technology is bad then is the author suggesting that we should return to the days without any technology? I would hope this isnt the case because i doubt anyone would chose to lead the dangerous lives of hunter gatherers. How does the author know where the line of too much technology is drawn, is it a specific date of does it change depending on the topic? These imperfections with the argument leave me to question the validity of the claims. I can see the negatives in too much technology but i can also see the positives. Is there such a thing as too much technology and if so how is that determined?

Coming of Age is Overcoming a Challenge?

October 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Continuously, authors and screen writers depict coming of age as overcoming some sort of large life challenge, maturing and becoming stronger. This loss of innocence coupled with gaining responsibility forces characters to grew up suddenly.

In Call of the Wild by Jack London, Buck gets unwillingly taken from his family, beaten into submission and forced to become a sled dog in alaska. He goes from leading a life of ease in Santa Clara to a rough and uncivilized life up north. Although his situation went from good to terrible, Buck is able to overcome this loss of his original life and excel at his new life. By making the best of his uncontrollable situation, Buck not only matures but also gains power and responsibility as the head sled dog.

Similarly, In the Lion King, Simba accidentally gets his father killed by a stampede of wildebeasts. At first, he is ashamed and depressed at this loss so he retreats from his previously life and responsibility; however, when his evil uncle Scar abuses his power to the point of threatening the existence of the pride, Simba returns to take back what he left behind. He has to overcome the challenge of accepting his fathers loss and defeating his uncle. In doing this, Simba is regaining his title as king.

Lastly, In Bambi, Bambi loses his mother at a young age when he is still dependent on her. This forces him to grow up quickly in order to fend for himself and his mate. Rather than dwelling, Bambi accepts his loss and his sudden increase in responsibility.

These three coming of age tale all revolve around an essential challenge or hardship in each characters life. As someone who has led a pretty eventless life, it makes me wonder if in fact my great coming of age will ever happen? Or, did it happen slowly with out me realizing? These texts make me feel like you have to have a significant loss in order for you to ever truly come of age. Is it possible to come of age without any major struggles through your life?

Do We Get More Civilized as We Age?

October 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

It is often said that children are uncivilized. They run about, not sharing, not caring and doing what ever they want to. They are called wild. But is it wild in the sense that they are uncivilized. I would argue yes.

What characterizes a civilized person? Compassion? Empathy? Although children can have strong emotions, their emotions are primarily self centered. They havent experienced enough to understand and therefore empathize with what others are going through. Children are innocent. The lack of events in their lives have not taught them compassion or how to feel bad for others. As a child i only thought of myself, never about the impact i had one others. Putting myself in someone else’s situation was impossible to do.

As we grow up we are thought to mature and become civilized. We go from eating with our hands to using silverware. From feeling little for others to always thinking about peoples problems. However, at the same time when we become what is defined as a civilized adult at the age of 18, we can join the army and partake in the most primal act of killing another human.

In Call of the Wild, Buck goes from his civil life in Santa Clara to a primal life in Alaska. In some aspects, Buck becomes more civilized as he ages. He discovers true love for Thorton, an emotion that only humans are thought to possess. However, after Thortons death, Buck relinquishes his attachment to civilized society and discovers his primal self, reconnecting with with his ancestors. This suggests that although we age and try to cover up our primality by fitting into civilized society ultimately as we age we still connect to primality. So then what exactly defines coming of age?

Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young

October 1, 2010 § 1 Comment

Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young, was the title of Faron Youngs hit song in 1955. Although this song came out after the death of Jack London, it summarizes his life and the values he lived by.

From the time he was born, Jack London had a tumultuous childhood. Since her pregnancy was unplanned and who the father was was unclear, jacks mom Flora, often referred to him as her “badge of shame”. As a child, Flora suffered from typhoid fever which caused her to continuously have aggressive mood swings and depression. The birth of jack left already sickly Flora, even weaker and she was unable to care for her son in the beginning of his life. Due to this, she never showed Jack affection. When the family moved to Oakland, Jack was forced to work on the farm at age five. The combination of a loveless childhood and excessive work caused Jack to reject this boring and dreary lifestyle and seek adventure. Since he didnt have enough money to create his own adventure, Jack became an avid reader and eventually wanted to experience things first hand. For the rest of his life, Jack sought passion, excitement and adventure before dying at the age of forty because of bad health.

This unhealthy childhood is ultimately what gave Jack London’s writing its passion and depth. Call of the Wild, arguably his most famous book, follows the struggle of an alaskan sled dog. While some say that since the protagonist is a dog, this book targets a younger crowd. Its darker undertones, a reflection of the darkness of his childhood and family life, make it appropriate for older readers as well.

What makes London’s books so successful is the characterization of being caged in and seeking freedom at some point or another. We can all relate to this feeling, a feeling which London knew so well throughout his childhood. The passion and adventure in London’s books is what makes them so attractive and interesting to all Americans.

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