Sunday, September 28, 2008

We Heart Polar Bears...Since 2006

   "Polar Bears Standing," Courtesy of First People    

Here’s a picture that was linked to on Huffington Post’s Green Section when CNN reported on polar bears turning to cannibalism due to habitat loss.


When did the media start obsessing over Polar Bears?  In the days prior to An Inconvenient Truth, polar bears only appeared in Coke-Cola commercials during Christmas time.  


Following Al Gore’s documentary in 2006, media outlets have made the species a poster-mammal of global warming.  And why not, it’s just too easy.  They’re adorable, especially when young and look like bobbing loaves of bread.  And the idea, the computer-animated image, of these cuddly creatures drowning in cold water could strike guilt in anyone.


Here’s the clip from the documentary:

And a few more drawings:


Remember when Bambi’s mom died?  Well, the media’s manufacturing images that evoke that same guilty conscious.  I support the attention to dying species, but I’m troubled by the number of sensationalistic, computer-generated, or hand drawn images that have appeared. 

World Climate Report pointed out that there are no significant photos ) or true footage of drowned bears. 

I was surprised to find out that polar bears are actually a threatened species as opposed to an endangered species.  This isn’t an excuse for not giving polar bears a spotlight in MSM, but what about the hundreds of other disappearing species that don’t get any attention? 

1 comment:

M. Dery said...

Fascinating post, although it presumes a definition of media criticism closer to Marshall McLuhan's or Neil Postman's or, say, a semiotician like Roland Barthes's---"media," understood as the system of signs and symbols used by the mass media to articulate the stories we tell ourselves, as a culture, about who we are, what things mean. We're supposed to be doing press criticism, here---an important distinction. Nonetheless, an intriguing post. I'm not clear on whether it's the politicization of the polar bear that you find problematic---the transformation of the animal, by environmental activists, into the totemic symbol of global warming---or the fact that few photos of dead bears exist, in proportion to the digital renderings, etc., a fact that suggests environmentalists are stretching the truth? Also, HUGE rotten spot on this apple: you cite World Climate Report, produced by New Hope Environmental Services, Inc., a front for the clean-coal lobby whose "science" is hopelessly contaminated by ideology. Google "New Hope Environmental Services, Inc.," wade past the first few links to their pages, and you'll find convincing evidence that WCR/NHE are an example of what media critics call "astroturfing": bogus "grassroots" organizations secretly funded by industry consortiums or political organizations. More about New Hope and astroturfing here: