Sunday, August 13, 2006

An ode to the shark

A.C. Douglas is really putting together a best-of with his "Featured Past Post" link. I am particularly fond of this one. I confess a weakness for one kind of nature films: shark films. They are nature's own killing machine, they are loners, and they are just really cool.

The best shark films avoid falling into the Jaws-trap: i.e., presenting sharks as mindless villains, ravening for the "sweet, gamey tang of human flesh" (Mr. Burns' words, not mine). No. The best ones do nature's research and design department justice by presenting the shark as a machine built to kill. From the sensitive olfactory and vibration centers to the ever-regenerating rows of razor-sharp teeth, the shark is designed to do some damage. No human is ever going to form a Whale Rider-esque attachment to a Great White or Tiger shark. There is no March of the Penguins allegory to be found with sharks, unless you're a sociopath. There is only the visceral thrill of watching a two-ton fish, streamlined like a '65 Cadillac - I might add, fly out of the water to use a mouth full of daggers to rip something apart that it might devour it. That's why sharks are cool.

Sharks are the ultimate cool-kid in the animal school. They do their thing, like they have for millions of years, and they clearly don't give a damn if they're cuddly-enough for housewives in Dubuque. Nor do they mind killing the prey of human fishermen. The ultimate animal for the cultural conservative, really. Perhaps Mr. Douglas should drop his unfortunate fondness for the wusses of the animal world - the friendly, dolphin-on-'roids killer whales - and come over to the shark side. He won't regret it. I didn't.

Did I mention how cool sharks are?


At 2:47 PM, Blogger Terry said...

I just might link to this post. Sad to say, if you said this as straight laced as possible, it could possilby be the funniest thing ever.

And sharks are really f'in cool, but if I had to choose an animal from all-time, I would say the Veloca-Raptor, or however it's spelled. Essentially the same personality, but they are clever, or so Jurassic Park has led us to believe.

At 2:55 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

Deadpan. Always deadpan. You know how my sense of humor works.

Sharks, especially some of the more wonderful ones, like the Great White or the Mako, are infinitely cooler than the velociraptor (actually, the deinonychus, if you're talking about the model for the film) because they - or their forebears - survived a friggin' meteor strike. How much of a badass do you have to be to survive a METEOR STRIKE? The wuss killer whales wouldn't.

At 9:19 PM, Blogger Terry said...

Indeed, though they did have the advantage of living in the sea, which is a form of cheating in my opinion. But, I suppose a badass can cheat as well.

At 9:48 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

Not only can a badass cheat, a badass will cheat because he doesn't give a damn about society and its little "rules."

At 10:22 PM, Blogger Terry said...

Amen to that.

Of course, I don't think sharks really have a society, and if they did, wouldn't cheating mean they would walk on the land and eat tossed greens?

That's too much shark thought for a day.

At 11:40 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

Sharks don't have a society because no implicit collective agreement concerning social welfare can hold a shark down. Sharks go where they go, and wherever they go, there they are.

Sharks don't give a damn how you define cheating for them because you're not the boss of them.

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