Danny and I have been watching the BBC’s Planet Earth. For the most part, it’s amazing. We’ve seen a gang of otters chase off a crocodile. We’ve seen the six-plumed bird of paradise sweep it’s “stage” with a small twig broom so that it can begin an intricate mating dance. And we’ve seen monkeys swim. Monkeys. SWIMMING. I didn’t know monkeys liked to swim.
Mostly, however, we have watched things die. This series should be called Planet Death.
I know it is the order of the universe that the vulnerable and old are, often, left to die. And I know that all species must somehow sustain themselves, protecting and feeding their young. But I’m not sure if I can take another slow motion death scene. Great whites launching themselves out of the water to swallow seals whole. Desert foxes carrying away entire broods of baby birds, their scrawny necks still flailing, their parents watching helplessly from the nest. A lonely elephant, separated from its herd during a dust storm and, unknowingly, traveling away from the life-saving waters of the oasis instead of toward them. This elephant — it will die! It will die alone, thirsty and alone!
When death approaches, nature documentaries become very much like bad horror movies. The music grows ominous, and the light dims. The creatures on the screen grow wide-eyed and anxious, aware something very bad is about to happen but refusing to run when you yell at the screen look behind you dear god you stupid hoofed thing angry lioness approaching! And then I get up and get a cup of coffee or fold the laundry, because I want to miss the bloodstained fur and bone crunching.
Tonight, we finished the third disc of five. The chapter titles suggest that the final disc will examine how we’re destroying the planet, which will be even more devastating than the million creature deaths from discs one through four. I anticipate sea birds drowning in oil slicks, polar bears drowning of exhaustion because the fish they rely upon have fled as we ruin their habitat.
I look forward to the series of chick flicks I’ve added to our queue post-Planet Earth.