There are many truths in the animal kingdom. Perhaps the most obvious and well known truth is the truth of natural selection, that the strongest will survive and the weakest will be consumed. The strong will procreate and the weak will not, thus creating a more complete, and resilient species.
Countless animal documentaries go over this, in fact sometimes it feels like the only thing they do. It’s as if Darwin was such a good thing for zoology that they’re forced to give endless homage to his work. We, as a species, somehow feel obligated to teach this stuff in every piece of work regarding every possible animal species. Any special you watch on a specific animal will go through Darwin’s theory.
“Iguanas? Yup, they die if they’re weak. Check.”
“Earthworms? 10-4 good buddy. Check.”
“Chimpanzee’s? Yeah they eat the young of competing tribes. Check.”
It’s like they’re going down a list of animals just to make sure they all follow the principle of natural selection.
Darwin’s theories are like the repetition of reruns of a good show. Seinfeld is great and all, but like natural selection, it loses its magic the three hundredth time you’ve seen it.
They don’t have a choice, really. When speaking of the animal kingdom you cannot ignore the laws of natural selection any more than you can ignore the laws of gravity when discussing space. It’s a simple truth of our universe, and must be given due diligence.
Perhaps the boredom isn’t in the facts, not in the truths of nature, but rather the content. I can only watch instances of natural selection so many; it’s very much the same from species to species. Sure bald eagles may allow their young to kill each other off where a lion or bear may not, but the pattern is the same. They get some footage of a something we find barbaric, and recycle a voice over and release it as a BBC documentary.
“Then, it a tradition as old as time itself…” I imagine David Attenborough saying, “this particular animal does a strikingly fucked up thing that is hard for us civilized creatures to imagine.” And we add the animal to a list of creatures we’d rather not domesticate.
We enjoy separating ourselves from the animal kingdom. We’re so removed from it, at least as Americans, that we hold ourselves on a different plane. Humanity came up with terms like food chain, intelligence and culture as a way to convince ourselves that we truly are the best species this planet has had the pleasure of housing. We’ve created countless tests to categorize everything, and every time we end up at the top. I have visions of my neighborhood friend who would somehow win every game we played, “oh yeah,” he’d say, feigning realization, “I forgot about the rule where on a Spring Tuesday, you actually win if you have less points in basketball. Silly me.”
When I watch things like Planet Earth, I get shocked with the brutality of the animal world. Yet despite its brutality, there’s a weird balance. Whether it’s prey or predator, animals accept their role. When an animal is being eaten, they seem to struggle at first, to make sure it looked like they put up a fight. And almost as if they can hear the gasps through the TV screen, they stop fighting, sure that they’ve convinced viewers this fate was inevitable.
And it’s been going on forever. As far as I know, there’s never been a coalition of Koala freedom fighters or Zebra revolutionists.
Zebras have never banded together to fight the tyranny of The Pride. Armed with their natural camouflage and almost harmless, flat teeth, they sought to free themselves. Their leader would have to be one who got messed up as a young colt, his face scarred but his sense of duty and pride are left unmarred. The numbers of the Rogue Zebras grows and eventually pushes The Pride out of Africa almost entirely. And thus the food chain shifts.
Humans > Wolverines > Badgers > Zebras > Lions > Domesticated house cats > Sharks.
I would watch that documentary a million times, die a happy man, and still not bore of the content. But of course, that hasn’t happened. Like everything on this planet, changes happen over millennia, not months.
That’s the issue with these nature shows. They tell the same story with minor changes here and there. Their symptoms of repeating themselves and forgetting what they’ve talked about only leads me to believe they’ve become senile.
It’s only after the 100th time you’ve heard ol’ grandpa say, “Did I ever tell you about where I was when JFK was assassinated?” that you begin to put the pieces together that maybe his mind isn’t what it used to be.
You don’t interrupt him. You wouldn’t dream of saying, “Hey Gramps, I’ve heard this story. You were getting your haircut at Benny’s, reading the newspaper when the radio announced, ‘JFK has been shot.’ You were shocked. You couldn’t believe it.”
“He was the last—“
“Gunslinger, I know.”
But you don’t. You let him have his story because it’s important to him, because it was a pivotal time in his life.
It’s the same with these nature documentaries. I’m not doggin’ them, they don’t really have other options. It’s the nature of the beast (forgive the pun).
Like I said, the issue is the content. Discovery channel and Animal Planet need to change who they follow. Animals are brutal. We get it. I’ve seen enough two minute clips of sharks and House cat’s devouring their prey to understand that.
There’s an untapped market in humanity.
Let’s take a break from animals. It’s not a breakup, its ok I won’t forget you, animals. I really enjoyed my time with you and you were great, but I’m just looking for something different. It’s time we see other species. My hope is that we can continue to be friends in the future.
And let’s usher in humanity, like a really hot rebound that isn’t known for their great personality.
Humanity shows its true nature in dark, anonymous bars. We’re cordial when it’s light out, when we’re at coffee or when we’re waiting in line at the bank. But the second we pay that $5 cover charge and get a stamp on our wrists, it’s survival of the fittest. It’s a dog eat dog world in the bars.
Unfortunately, things don’t look good for the less fair sex. From what I’ve seen, men are the ones who tend to revert to their animalistic desires. Women keep their pride and their self-respect. Of course, there are exceptions on both sides.
Four or five guys may be having a great night together. They’re hanging out, enjoying their bro time and playing darts. They flick each other shit and there’s a friendly competitiveness in their game of darts. Just some dudes hangin’ out.
That’s when possible partners show up. Two ladies setup shop on a dart game next to the guys, completely ignoring them. The game between guys changes. It’s no longer a friendly game, no longer a causal hangout between friends.
Now they show off, the same way a song bird shows of its singing voice. They talk louder, attempt more jokes and generally try to look cooler. They might flex their triceps before they throw, eyeing the two visitors to see if they’re watching.
They throw in a compliment from the other side of the dart board. A simple, “nice throw,” or “Ooo, so close…” And all of the sudden, now that the ice has been broken for one guy, the rest take it as fair game. Open season. Free-for-all.
“That shirt’s really cool.”
“Wow I never thought of throwing the dart underhand. You’re so smart and talented.”
“You’re a communications major with a minor in anthropology? Gee, it must be nice knowing you’ll be hired straight out of college.”
In the gritty, animalistic world of the bar, women can do no wrong. Everything they do is compliment worthy regardless of how idiotic it may be; because, like our other companions on this planet, the dudes just want to get laid. They strut their favorite flannel shirt (that they washed and ironed for an occasion such as this) and throw disparaging comments towards their friends the same way a peacock displays it’s colorful plume of feathers. They play the game of courting, males vie for the attention of females. The only difference in our ancient mating ritual is that it isn’t singing a particular song, or doing a weird dance, but tearing each other down; making others look bad while propping ourselves up.
As an observer, we get to bear witness the same things we see on the plains of Africa or in the frozen tundra of Canada. The strong procreate, and the weak go home alone. There are no friends when it comes to natural selection.
We almost have it with our reality TV shows; it’s so close to being worthy of a BBC documentary. Honestly, they could take any footage from Jersey Shore or Big Brother and simply accompany it with a voiceover.
“Then,” David Attenborough chimes in as the Alpha Male slides one seat over, “in a tradition as old as time itself, Chad tells a joke and totally cock blocks his friend Brian, making Vanessa laugh at Brian’s expense.”