the baggy trousered misanthropist

missives issued from the lair

If a shark attacks a human being, it is perfectly normal for several beardy types to launch themselves into the relevant ocean and return some days later, stinking of fish and brandishing the corpse of a random creature they have ‘confirmed’ as the killer of the unfortunate victim. The subsequent amateur photography of the same salty sea dogs grinning with amused pride provide some sort of comfort and closure to the hardy villagers and they all live happily ever after.

I’m prepared to concede that I watched Jaws too frequently in my youth. But the images of the polar bear shot to death while attacking a group of youngsters on a camping trip in Norway and then hung up for display for the global media put me in mind of this. How wonderful that once again we have been able to battle the forces of nature on their turf and assert our dominance.

Does everyone feel better?

It seems to me that an education of moral and ethical responses supplied by popular culture has left us totally unable to learn from events like these, so we don’t. Instead, overwhelmed by the confusion of emotions, we look to the media to help us cope. They go with a straightforward ‘capture and/or kill the beastly and evil enemy, post the necessary footage or photographs** on the internet and obtain closure’ motif and we all gratefully embrace it.

It’s so much easier than actually dealing with the reality of the situation.

The truth is, unlike most Hollywood movies, there’s no happy ending involving Jennifer Aniston and an amusing coincidence involving a labrador. Horatio Chapple is dead and his family are devastated. Four of friends are seriously injured and probably scarred mentally and physically for the rest of their lives. The polar bear has sullied it’s reputation as the cute n’fluffy furcoat of the green lobby by undertaking a desperate scavenging mission and the guy who shot it probably feels really, really bad, but had no alternative aside from allowing the animal to kill them all.

Actually, when you put it like that, I think I’d rather be emotionally redundant than have to deal with the brutality of it all.

**See Saddam Hussain, Osama Bin Laden, Nicolae Ceausescu et al

Image: Getty Images

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