When I was young I wanted to be Clint Eastwood. I don’t just mean I liked him and his seemingly never-ending stream of heroic roles. No, I wanted to be him. I’ve wanted to be a few people during my 53 years on this crazy ball of rock. Archie Gemmill, Francis Rossi and one of the Thunderbird pilots – I can’t remember which one. Even in my early thirties when I got into photography, there were a few people I wanted to be – who wouldn’t want to be Vincent Munier? Good looking, charismatic and sickeningly talented. Je ne suis pas digne.
I had hoped to bring you something slightly more sanguine following my last emotionally charged post – thank you to all who contributed by the way. It is not to be however, and although this is more of a reflection than a rant (it is after all Friday afternoon), it is nevertheless delivered with a slightly heavy heart.
Movie buffs will be pleased to note that Liam Neeson is back on our screen in The Grey, an action thriller that depicts a plane crash from which the survivors find themselves in an Alaskan wilderness. You can feel it coming can’t you? I heard it on Radio 2 and I knew immediately what was coming. The words ‘wilderness’, ‘Alaska’ and ‘thriller’ – with a shot of Hollywood thrown in to spice up the cocktail – mean only one thing: Wolves. Even in this informed age of animal ecology and behaviour; even at a time of heightened sensitivity to media misrepresentation, there’s no way that truth should get in the way of sensationalism. They just can’t resist it. I’m sure you can guess the story. It’s basically about a group of men being hunted by a pack of hungry wolves (as they do). It’s not really about predator and prey, it’s about good versus evil. It’s also biologically inaccurate and totally misleading.
Ilike Liam Neeson and OK, perhaps I’m over-reacting a tad, perhaps you could argue that it’s only a story, fiction, a piece of light-hearted entertainment and to a degree, I would buy that. But if you speak with the many scientists, researchers and biologists who have spent their lives – some of whom have lost their lives – educating the public about this much-maligned creature, I’m not sure they’d agree. And does this film really do the wolf’s reputation harm? Well I don’t know that for sure but 138,000 Facebook followers for a movie that has only been released a few days, doesn’t bode well for global wolf education. Hate wolves if you want to but at least hate them based on fact not fiction.
For context, the Facebook page campaigning to stop aerial wolf hunting in Alaska has 9,000 followers and I’m sure a good proportion of those are anti- Palin rather than pro-wolf. As a conservationist you can wee as hard and as long as you like but just now, there’s a strong breeze coming the other way.
ps. Both of these wolves were photographed in controlled conditions – before I get accused of misrepresentation!