Those that have watched an episode of Shark Week –or one of the numerous other home movie, blooper-oriented clip shows that appear on just about every network now– have witnessed what happens when animals attack. We’ve witnessed re-enactments of shark attacks, bear attacks, chimpanzee attacks, and even deer and geese attacks. Those that have watched these shows as often as I have, have also heard victims of such attacks say that they have no hard feelings for the beast that attacked them in the testimonials they offer after the video.
“I don’t blame the animal, and I have no ill will towards it,” they say. “I was in their domain. They were just doing what comes natural to them, and I deserve some of the blame for being there in the first place.”
Some of us just stare at the screen in silent awe. Either these survivors are the most wonderful, most forgiving people on the planet, or they’re just plain stupid. They had the threat of having one of their limbs separated from their body, at the very least, yet these survivors maintain that they are not in the least bit bitter toward the animal. Some of us find this reaction so incomprehensible that we have to wonder if we aren’t being played just a bit. We wonder if the networks have test-marketed victims’ reactions and found that the audience finds these type of violent clips a little less horrific, and thus more entertaining, if the survivor comes out on the other side of the clip with wonderful, forgiving sentiments. We hate to be cynical, but if this isn’t the case why do almost all of these victims appear to react in almost the exact same manner. It almost appears as though they’re reading from a script.
We here in hysterical, emotional reaction land, know that it’s reasonable to state that a bear is “Just doing what comes naturally to them” when it rips a human being apart for food, when that human happens upon that bear’s domain, with a full backpack of food on them. We know that the victims want to say whatever they feel they have to day to avoid appearing foolish, as they would if they tried to suggest that they were caught off guard by being attacked by a bear in a bear preserve. And they would appear foolish if they said that, or at least more foolish than a guy that expressed surprise after being attacked by a bear at a Schlotzky’s sandwich shop in Omaha, Nebraska.
We also understand that it’s the goal of those survivors giving such testimonials to appear reasonable when they say that “It was just a bear doing what a bear does” when she clenched her jaw on their face and left them looking like the elephant man. We understand that to suggest that the attack was, in anyway, vindictive, personal, or anything other than instinctual on the bear’s part, would make the victim appear foolish. We also know that most animals don’t single people out for attack, and that they prefer to avoid humans, unless conditions dictate otherwise. All of this is reasonable, even to those of us in hysterical, emotional reaction land, but it discounts the normal, hysterical reactions one should have if a bear removed one of their limbs, or left their face in a condition that now causes small children to run screaming from them at the mall.
One would think that a bear attack survivor would spend the rest of their life cheering on bear hunters. Would it be reasonable, seeing as how they were in a bear preserve when the bear attack occurred? It would not be, but most survivors of bear attacks should not be so reasonable that they are now able to hide their new lifelong, irrational fear (see hatred) of bears in the aftermath.
If there is anyone that could be excused for being bitter, and hateful, it is Charla Nash. Charla Nash was the victim of a chimpanzee attack, in 2009. That chimpanzee was a friend’s pet, a 200-lb chimpanzee named Harold. In this attack, Charla was blinded, and her nose, ears, and hands were severed. She also received severe lacerations on her face. Her life was as ruined as any that have survived an animal attack, but Charla Nash, somehow, remained forgiving. She wasn’t as forgiving as those that appear to have prepared responses that I believe result from TV producers issuing a “Do you want to be on camera? Then say this …” type of stated, or unstated ultimatum. She did appear to be forgiving, and that forgiveness appeared genuine:
“I’ve gotten angry at times,” Charla Nash is quoted by the USA Today as saying. “But you can’t hold anger. It’s unhealthy. It goes through you. You’ve got to enjoy what you have.”
Charla Nash provides a philosophical outlook on life that those of us that have lived without such a horrific moment in our lives can learn from. Her response to such a vicious attack is nothing short of admirable. It’s a little incomprehensible to most of us, but we still respect Charla Nash for maintaining a somewhat optimistic outlook on life after such an attack. The “goose guy” is not Charla Nash, however, and he should not be afforded the same admirable plaudits Nash is due. The “goose guy” is just an idiot.
Pro kayak angler, Drew Gregory (aka the goose guy) was fishing in a river, and he appeared to be feeding the geese that swam near him. One of the geese, in the competition for the food Gregory was offering them, decided that the best way to beat his competition to the food was to go to the source of the food. The source of the food, in this case, was “goose guy’s” backpack. The goose, doing what a goose does, attempted to empty the backpack, and in the process sent “goose guy” overboard. After this, the goose appeared to either be laughing at “goose guy” or making sounds that could be interpreted, by some, as sounds that expressed dominance.
The first thing that struck me is why does someone film themselves fishing? I understand that fishing shows date back to an era before I was born, but I have never understood how it achieved a level of popularity in a visual medium. The next question I have for “goose guy” is why did you allow this particular, embarrassing video distribution? Why didn’t you hit the delete button on your phone in the immediate aftermath, or burn the video if it was recorded on another device? If this were me, no other set of eyes would ever see this video. I don’t think I would even be able watch it. My pride couldn’t have survived the hit.
Some have suggested that we are now at a point in human history where human beings will do whatever they have to do for their fifteen minutes of fame. If Andy Warhol, the originator of this quote, were still alive, and he saw this video, and learned that the victim, Drew Gregory, distributed it himself, and that that victim made himself available for aftermath commentary, as Gregory did in the TruTV airing of the video, Warhol would smile and say: “Told you!”
It is just a goose, I’m sure most readers will say, and what are the chances that an (on average seven-to-eight pound) animal could end your life? We can all agree that those chances are remote, but what are the chances that that same animal could do irreparable damage to an eyeball or an ear? What are the chances that a goose could give you lacerations that could land a person in the hospital? I can tell you one thing, I would not be calculating these probabilities in the moment of the attack. I’m thinking that some primal, self-preservation tactics would rise to the surface as I fought this thing off.
I can also guarantee you that the networks –that run these type of clips– would deem my reaction to the goose attack as unusable, as I’m sure that videos of goose beheadings don’t test well in market research.
I would also not be that amiable dunce that found a way to laugh about it later. I would not see this moment in my life as entertaining in anyway. I would not qualify it by saying that I was in their environment, and I received everything I deserved. I would see that moment as one of those survival of the fittest moments. I would think about all these videos I’ve watched, and how the one thing we do know about nature is that it’s unpredictable. Or, I wouldn’t think at all. I would just act. I would just grab this thing by the throat, whisper Hannibal Lecter lines to it, and separate its head from its body. If that bird managed to escape all retribution, and I still had some angle on it, I would grab my kayak oar and drive the bird in a manner that would make fellow lefty, golfer Phil Mickelson, proud.
If the bird managed to escape all retribution, you can bet I wouldn’t be smiling and forgiving in the interview that followed. My, edited for television, version would go something like this:
“I don’t know how you guys attained this video, but it has ruined my life. Everyone I know, now calls me “the goose guy”. If I get a hold of that goose, I will find the slowest, most agonizing death possible for it. I’ve already killed twelve geese in this area, thinking that it might be that one that ruined my life, and I’m not sure if I’ve killed this particular goose yet, or not, but I’ll probably end up killing twelve more before I rest.”
After witnessing a Rottweiler attack, in person, I am forever relegated to an embarrassing hysterical, emotional land whenever the average, full grown Rottweiler walks into a room. It’s irrational and emotional, two reactions I strive to avoid in life, but they’re a part of me that cannot be controlled. I’ve lost arguments with those that state that no dog, be they the Rottweiler, Pit bull, or otherwise are evil by nature. They cite science, I cite hysterical emotions based upon experience. I lose. Even as I’m losing these arguments, however I know I’m not the alone with these feelings, and I am quite sure that those that hold such views, in the aftermath of their near-death attacks, or embarrassing attacks, are edited out of these home movie, clip shows, for those animal lovers that would not appreciate what I have to say, or what I do, in the aftermath of such an attack.