....Is that he was both an entertainer and an educator. Anyone who watched one of his programs for more than five minutes would have realized how passionate Irwin was about animals and wildlife conservation. He made it his life to bring wild nature, in all her terrifying glory, into the homes of everyday people. Many of the animals he observed and wrangled with were either endangered, or are in-danger of having their habitats exploited and destroyed. With all the shit we have to put up with these days, from Nancy Grace to election spots every four seconds, it's no wonder most people don't give a damn about conservationism.
Irwin was an entertainer, no two ways about it. But he was also able to educate those same viewers who tuned in for his crazy stunts. Not too many entertainers can actually claim to be teachers as well. It takes a special kind of filmmaker, a special kind of musician, a special kind of personality, to pull that off. Irwin wasn't stupid. He knew the risks involved in his line of work. But for his own reasons, he felt that it was the right thing to do. If he could get people interested in the wild kingdom, or involved in protecting open spaces for wildlife to thrive and survive, then all those close calls were worth it. You wouldn't tell Salman Rushdie he took unnecessary risks for writing The Satanic Verses. And you wouldn't tell Johnny Cash he took unnecessary risks for protesting the Vietnam war. They believed in these things -- risks be damned.
And it's about time we recognized Steve Irwin for that as well. We should be so lucky to get just one man, so passionate about all God's creatures (great and small), in our lifetime. It wasn't his fault that most Westerners refuse to take note of wildlife unless it's in their faces. He gave the people what they wanted, and in turn, helped bring a voice to creatures who couldn't speak. Just remember, if we hadn't been so insistent on a mini-mall in every backyard and millions of open acres for cheap beef, then we wouldn't have needed someone like Steve Irwin to warn us about endangered habitats and their animalia residentialis.
Luckily, he had the courage to shake off the dust of indifference in our already over-stimulated minds.
And I say, good for him.