Academic journal article Hecate

Steve Irwin: Death of a Hero

Academic journal article Hecate

Steve Irwin: Death of a Hero

Article excerpt

I.

Before the camera

he was larger than life

but in the Great Barrier Reef

small enough for death

An 'authentic Australian,'

he showed us

who we are supposed to be,

that is

who we are not,

not what we are.

We'd all like to hurl ourselves

heroically

on top of our fears,

bring them out of the water,

wrestle with them

under the sun.

We thought to ourselves:

'IfI can't,

it's still good that he can,

especially when he is

just an average Aussie bloke

with a little empire,

television, films, a successful zoo,

dressed in khaki,

it could be me or you.'

We laughed, we cringed, we saw through it all.

Then when the Americans didn't,

we took it seriously. We envied.

After dying,

he was 'Irrepressible,'

a quality to be admired

in a bush-loving larrikin,

in blond, male and iconic,

but not so popular

for a feisty female academic

who shows us, after all,

who we really are

stingrays

in the subtropics

leading passive, uneventful, anonymous lives.

It is only when

one of us dissents

that we lash out

see ourselves

for what we are.

Only when one lashes out

do we dissent.

II.

He was 'one in a million', an 'action hero,'

It was a stingray death to a crocodile life,

He was a 'force of nature', a 'foolhardy hunter,'

It was a gentle black bull ray with a serrated knife.

For the crocodile danger, the stingray danger,

Beyond the crocodile court, the stingray gaol,

After the crocodile myth, the stingray reality,

In the crocodile jaws, the stingray tail. …

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