Crikey!

by Matthew Curtis
September 5, 2006 4:59 AM
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Son of a bitch! Woke up to the news Monday that "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, the Australian TV personality and environmentalist, was killed on the job. Apparently he was filming an underwater doc on the Great Barrier Reef when the accident occurred and he took a stingray's barb to the heart--ouch!

To say that this man's job was a dangerous one is an understatement. But like adventurer Jeff Corwin--whose escapades also air on Animal Planet--you always felt that because it was taking place on camera and our host was so experienced, no way can this kooky risk-taker get seriously hurt. That is why his death is still shocking, no matter his line of work.

My kids grew up watching "Crocodile Hunter" on TV, and I even took them to see the adventure-comedy feature film, THE CROCODILE HUNTER: COLLISION COURSE (2002) about five years ago (fairly entertaining if I remember correctly). Not only was the TV show funny, informative, thrilling at times, and cool alternative programming for children, but it definitely contributed to their education and enthusiasm for some of the frightening and bizarre creatures on this planet. For a time, this was "must-see" TV that we could all watch together, see something we've never seen before, and actually learn a thing or two.

Yes, he pulled a "Wack Jacko" moment a couple of years ago when he brought his 1-year-old son into a crocodile show at the Australia Zoo and fed a 13-footer some meat with the infant tucked under his other arm. Not exactly a model for good parenting, but he said the boy was never in any harm's way. Luckily that proved to be the case. And there was also some controversy about him getting too close to the animals during a shoot in Antarctica some time after that. But Steve Irwin did so much good while he was alive and clearly was as passionate as one could be about their work. His show was such a phenomenon that his "Crikey!" exclamatory catch-phrase became a household word. The "Crocodile Hunter" revolutionized the nature show on television and though others have followed in his footsteps, Steve Irwin will be missed.

--Matthew

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