Friday, 28 November 2014

Run with it! Or rather, swim with it...

One of my main interests in writing about lesser known species is to try and shed light on the beauty of the unknown and the wonder in the worlds that surround us. This past month I came across three distinct articles that touch on framing other than human nature through a lens of fear. The first article is from the CTV news reporting on a recent video capture of an anglerfish which is a deep sea being also referred to as the black sea devil. This article brought me back to my research on the Australian grey nurse shark and the undeserved monikers and reputation they earned in the late 1960s. Many of the pieces that reported on the Australian grey nurse shark would capture the audience with a provocative tag-line that did not necessarily convey the tone of the story, which is very much the case with the CTV anglerfish article. The title of the story, Research team captures deep-sea nightmare on film, conveys an alarmist reaction in the reader whence the content reflects a very different perspective. However, this is not so much the case with the second article that I came across…

The hype about the 'Jurassic World' trailer that the public has been waiting for on the “edge of their seat,” very much reflects how popular Hollywood big box office productions gear their audiencess viewpoint to interpret nonhuman nature through a lens of fear. The Jurassic World trailer echoes societal glorifications of an obsession with control and the confinement of other beings for human entertainment. We see this most effectively mirrored in the brief glimpse of a mosasaur breaching the water in the SeaWorld-like pool with its arena of awe-struck spectators watching the beast attack the dangling great white shark in true Jaws fashion. The carefully timed high pitched sounds from the striking of isolated piano keys of that ever recognisable John Williams slow piano piece creates that eerily unsettling feeling in the viewer to a point that one is both primed and caught off guard by the ensuing drama that will follow. The creation of these types of films reinforce our penchant for attributing human characteristics in relation to intent over instinct upon other beings that hunt for survival over sport or vengeance. This brings me to the last article that I explored which looks at deflating the hyperbolic myths that surround the great white shark…

This third article exposes ten well-disseminated myths, from the intent of attacks, frequency at which they occur and the efforts that we have made to safeguard against shark attacks. One of the key myths surrounding shark attacks and their occurrence is also tied to the frequency of their reportage in mass media. Often times there can be years when no fatal attacks occur but a sudden clumping of attacks (and clumping is in relation to three or four attacks) in a single year can send the media into a feeding frenzy. These fatal attacks also tend to occur at times that other prey species are more active and hence at times when it is ill-advised to be in the water. And while it is true that there may indeed be an increase in the number of attacks that do occur, this is more a reflection of the “ever-increasing amount of time spent in the sea by humans, which increases the opportunity for interaction between the two affected parties" rather than truly reflects a swell in the rate of attacks.  

Thus, it is intriguing to examine the way in which information is conveyed to the public and the ways in which we construct realities through our narratives as they do nourish our beliefs…

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