Shark vs. Man

October 9, 2009

Since the beginning of time, humans have always tried to conquer and overcome nature. Whether it is building enormous skyscrapers that disturb the perfect serenity of sky, or hunting innocent creatures for sport, people treat nature as inferior to them. Industrializing the world and eliminating our old ways of living have been goals of the human race for centuries now. It is almost looked down upon to be one with nature now, and give in to its beauty. Specifically for males in society, it has been a highly praised action throughout the years to overcome nature. Many males believe it is respectful to show their superiority through hunting, fishing, exposing themselves to danger, etc. This is because it causes men to feel greater than the world, and gives them a sense of power. Since sharks are one of the most deadly predators in the world, many men make it a sport to hunt sharks. By doing this, men feel like they have control over the most dangerous animal in nature. By researching shark hunting, I found that it was a perfect representation of humans’ desire to battle nature.
Fishing is a very common sport among men throughout the world. Many people believe it provides bonding time, and allows males to sit out on the water for hours in nature, talking and attempting to catch large fish. Originally, fishing was simple and only used for food. Only when people were hungry did they actually fish: it was never a game or sport. Now as we clearly don’t need to fish for ourselves any longer, people have continued to do it nonetheless, mainly because it is entertaining in a lot of people’s minds. With men specifically, it helps them feel like they have control. As the “sport” became more competitive, it was known that the bigger the fish you caught, the more masculine you were. Therefore, sharks began being the target for sport or game fishing. They weren’t hunted for food, but simply for game. Catching a large shark would be a confidence booster for any fisherman. Even though it is not vital or necessary for survival, it allows men to feel superior to nature.
So why is it “cool” in so many people’s minds to overcome nature? In my opinion we are not actually overcoming it. Although we always try to grasp nature and have it be beneath us, it will never actually happen. By treating the wilderness so horribly, we are also causing ourselves pain. Humans forget that they actually originated from nature, and at one time we weren’t in the safety of our indoor homes with meat in the fridge and running water. Despite all this, people still think that it is necessary to overcome nature. Some people like Bear Grylls, seem totally unselfish when it comes to nature. However, I believe that it is a tactic to demonstrate their power, and inspire other people to want to be like them. It is desirable for many because it is an indicator of masculinity. As I was researching men who hunt sharks, I found a surprising amount of stories. Although there are now laws and regulations surrounding shark hunting, it still occurs a lot around the world. In other countries, sharks are still killed mindlessly for their fins. For example, in China there is a legendary dish called “Shark Fin Soup”. Many Chinese consider it a delicacy. Little do they know, sharks are becoming more endangered and face the risk of extinction in further years if the hunting continues. Humans are constantly taking more than what they actually need. Shark hunting is a perfect example of this, because it demonstrates how people believe they are superior to the ocean and nature.
I am a firm believer in nature, and hate it when humans attempt to abuse it and take advantage of its resources. What bothers me most is the treatment of the ocean, specifically how people kill innocent sharks. However, I must agree that is clear to see why humans are afraid of sharks. For decades, they have been portrayed as evil and malicious in movies, commercials, books, etc. From the time we were kids, the idea that sharks are mean has been implanted in our brains. Through movies such as Jaws, Open Water, and even Finding Nemo or the Little Mermaid, sharks are illustrated as monstrous beasts that prowl the waters looking for humans to kill. Images in realistic movies show sharks slicing through the water creeping towards their prey, with their fins sticking ominously into the air. Music that invokes fear or nervousness is also played during the movies when sharks are being shown. Automatically, because of the way they are filmed, and the suspenseful music in the background, humans are naturally going to fear sharks. Even in children’s movies, sharks are always enormous with big large teeth and they chase the main character of the movie. Therefore, kids are going to assume that the sharks are the “bad guys”.
Personally I believe that sharks are absolutely incredible animals who are completely misunderstood. In my experience with sharks, I have never once felt threatened or vulnerable when being with these beautiful animals. I’ve swam with many sharks in my life, including the most dangerous types in the world. You always hear about shark attacks, and how a person was “minding their own business” when they suddenly got brutally attacked by a savage shark. However, if you truly research a shark attack incident, most of the time the person was acting as a threat to the shark by taunting them or making harsh movements. Therefore, it is unfair to say that sharks are killing machines who kill people with no reason or cause. We are actually the ones who kill them without a cause.
The most memorable experience I had with a shark was when I was working in Fiji this past summer. We went on a shark dive as a research project in which I got to feed over 50 sharks. There were a variety of different kinds including; Nurse, Lemon, Bull, Reef, and Tiger sharks. I was completely immersed in the sharks, without a cage or spear for protection. Before the dive, I had been told many times by my dive master that it would be almost impossible to see a Tiger shark. This greatly disappointed me because they are one of my favorite animals, and I have been studying them for years so it was my dream to see one. Tiger sharks are considered the most deadly sharks in the world, because even though they aren’t exactly as large as a Great White, they are more vicious and aggressive. As I was feeding a ten-foot long bulky Bull shark, I noticed all the other fish began darting away. Soon I was left alone, with a large piece of dead fish in my hand. Immediately I knew what had happened. I looked as an enormous figure began immerging from the darkness. She came with the most overpowering presence in the world. Her sleek muscular body was covered in dark brown stripes that raced down her razor sharp skin. Scars creased the fins that shot up from her body like a mountain range rising up from the Earth. The Tiger shark swam with force yet also with peace towards me. Her wisdom and antiquity radiated through the water, causing me to be in complete awe. She was truly the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. As she stared into my eyes, my heart began pounding wildly. I felt respect and admiration for this beautiful animal. She seemed so much wiser and so much more established than me. I felt more in touch with nature at that moment than I had ever felt in my life. As the eighteen foot long shark swam inches away from my head, I was honored to be in her presence. I reached out my hand, and stroked her beautiful head gently as she swam by me. Even though she was supposed to be the most dangerous creature in the ocean, she didn’t seem like that whatsoever.
Having spent a lot of my time in the ocean, I understand why sharks don’t scare me. However many people are terrified by them and reject the ocean because of their phobia. Although, if you look at shark attack statistics, the numbers are surprisingly low, especially in comparison to deaths that occur in things like car accidents. This always puzzles me because each day of our lives all of us get into cars. We have all heard about car crashes, and have all witnessed one on the side of the freeway while driving by. However, we still fear sharks more than cars, or anything else. This is another reason why shark hunting is so admirable to some people. Since sharks are portrayed as evil and scary, when people fish for them it is considered to be heroic. Males feel like they have the upper-hand when fishing for sharks. My goal is to even out the imbalance between man and nature. We are all the same, and all originated from the same place. Why punish sharks for our insecurities?


October 1, 2009

Sharks are Beautiful

From the time we were little kids, society has instilled the idea in us that sharks are evil and malicious creatures. Through movies such as Jaws, Open Water, and even Finding Nemo or the Little mermaid, sharks are portrayed as monstrous beasts who prowl the waters looking for humans to kill. Images in realistic movies show sharks slicing through the water creeping towards their prey, with their fins sticking ominously into the air. Music that invokes fear or nervousness is also played during movies when sharks are being shown. Automatically, because of the way they are filmed, and the suspenseful music in the background, humans are naturally going to fear sharks. Also in children’s movies, sharks are always enormous with big large teeth, and they chase the main character of the movie. Therefore, kids are going to assume that sharks are the “bad guys”. Personally I believe that sharks are incredible animals, and they are completely misunderstood. I have been swimming and scuba diving with sharks since I was a little girl, so I’ve never been afraid of them. I think people are so fearful because we don’t know that much about them. Usually when humans are unsure about something or perceive it as different, they reject it and become fearful. If we knew more about sharks, then we wouldn’t be so terrified of them. Thayer Walker talked about how he went on a shark dive in a cage with Great Whites. Over the summer when I went to Fiji, I was lucky enough to work with a shark diving company, educating people about sharks and going on hundred foot dives with tourists. It was an incredible experience, and a perfect way for people to not fear sharks anymore. We were feeding the sharks, without any cages, as they surrounded us. Once I was immersed in over thirty bull sharks, who are constantly depicted as evil. However, I pet them and fed them with my own hands, not being harmed at all. I am not saying that these animals are like cuddly domestic dogs, but they have no intention of harming us. The only time I was a little bit fearful was when an 18 foot tiger shark swam up to me. She was truly the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, with stripes racing down her muscular back as she glided through the deep blue water. Tiger sharks are arguably the most dangerous sharks in the world. Even though they are a bit smaller than Great Whites, they are much more ferocious and aggressive. I stroked her stomach as she swam over me, and felt completely put in my place. There wasn’t a hint of aggression or hate in her eyes. The only evilness when it comes to sharks is how people treat them.


Humans vs. Nature

September 30, 2009

Humans are constantly attempting to overcome nature. Whether they are trying to climb mountains, swim with sharks, or strand themselves on a deserted island, humans are convinced that we are superior to nature and dominating the natural world comes at ease. However many people who actually come in direct contact with nature are humbled when they realize that this expectations are very unrealistic. Even though we have found ways to conquer nature through our technology, each of us individually has no knowledge or power when it comes to facing the wild. Many people view making contact with nature as a sublime aspect, because it causes us to be in awe or feel emotional, and allows us to feel as if we are part of a greater magnitude. I agree with this in a sense, that the sublime exists and people utilize it as a means of discovering themselves. On the contrary, I don’t think that looking at nature through the sublime is the only way to view it. I believe that humans and nature should be viewed almost on the same level, especially since we originated from the natural world.


How humans are portrayed in Bambi

September 24, 2009

Bambi

The classic Disney film Bambi reveals many truths about human emotion and interaction. Throughout the movie, the various animals in the forest each have different roles and personalities. The most obvious portrayal of humans in the film is the depiction of masculinity. In the beginning of the movie, Bambi’s father is completely absent. When Bambi is born in the forest, his father isn’t present and doesn’t show up until the family is in actual danger. Although he does end up saving them, he doesn’t appear again until Bambi’s mother is killed. Thumper’s father is also portrayed in a similar way. The mother rabbit constantly tells him to listen to what his father ordered him to do. However, we never actually view the father. This implies that fathers are never around but still give all the orders. Secondly, another scene that stood out to me relating to masculinity was when Bambi became a teenager and he meets the love of his life Felline again. Another male deer attempts to fight Bambi and take Felline as his own. She has no choice and no way to defend herself, and the male deer almost rapes her. Females are again depicted as weak and helpless, because Bambi must rescue her and fight the male deer to prove he was more masculine. Females in the movie are also depicted as very sexual and seductive. For example, during the spring scene in which Thumper, Flower, and Bambi all discover what love is, they are all seduced by females. The girls each have lighter skin than all the boys, demonstrating the idea that fairness was valued during this time in society.

The entire film revolves around Bambi growing up and finding himself as a grown up. At first he is abandoned by his mother and has to be raised by his father who hadn’t ever shown him affection previously in the story. Once the forest fire scene occurs, Bambi proves himself when he must save Felline from the hunting dogs, and then takes a bullet to his leg. This is very symbolic of young males coming of age. Also, the very last scene of the movie represents the idea of boys overtaking the role of their fathers eventually. Bambi and his father stand side by side above the whole forest in the closing scene, and then his father steps down to leave. Bambi then assumes the position of “Prince of the Forest”, while Felline is hiding deep in the forest having his babies. While Bambi is off watching the forest and earning respect, Felline will have to raise his babies, just as his mother did.

Another idea that was put forth in Bambi was the battle between man and nature. Although you never actually see a human in the movie, they are constantly portrayed as evil. Humans are the ones who burn down the forest, shoot at the animals, and are the only predators in the entire forest. This demonstrates how people at the time probably had no concern for animals and the importance of preserving nature, because it appeared as if the movie was attempting to send a message to people. By revealing the side of the animals, children and even adults are able to get in touch with their emotions and feel sad for the forest creatures. Especially when the hunters murder Bambi’s mother. I know personally when I was a child, that scene affected me the most and made me despise hunters to this day. However at the end of the movie, nature overcomes man because Bambi and all his friends survive the forest fire. Overall, despite the fact that this was a children’s movie, Walt Disney incorporated many messages that applied to the time period of Bambi relating to humans and their behavior.bambi


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