It’s finally here! The shark event of the year is celebrating 25 years of old captains and scientists talking about sharks. I’ve always looked forward to Shark Week, even if I don’t get a chance to watch it live (thought totally check out the website). For 25 years, we’ve watched sharks, on the shortlist of terrifying animals and fears. While they’re still absolutely terrifying, Discovery Channel allows us a certain awe when watching them. It’s hard to be afraid when a fear like gargantuan sharks is slowed down to a fifth of its regular speed with slow-motion cameras. The entire scene and context is present. There is no mystery.
News usually moves fast, which is even more terrifying. Fast news makes the obvious seem improbable and unexpected. For instance, unstoppable gonorrhea. We know what makes diseases take this turn (keep upping antibiotics until nothing can survive, and then something inevitably ends up surviving), but the headline still terrifies me. I survived MRSA and spent eight weeks on antibiotics to fight the learned beast, and no matter my history, the battle of drug-resistant bacteria still rages on.
The fear of such disease is obvious, but the sudden “OH FUCK, EVERYBODY RUN” response was foretold by the basic nature of the sickness. People are gonna keep getting gonorrhea, and we can no longer shrug it off with antibiotics, but the science behind it makes it seem inevitable when compared to MRSA, the foe of my junior year. Still, it comes off as the long con, and still warrants an instant panic.
I don’t aim to oversimplify how terrible things happen. Luckily, I have news stories that give the condensed version of how they got so bad. In the case of Pussy Riot, a band name terrific to write out in the name of journalism and doubly so when a reporter says it out loud on broadcast, the horror has finally reached public attention. It’s as if we forgot that Russia is a mob state. I doubt that the charges of “Holiganism” can hold water in globalized news, but think: this is where Russia is. Governments defending church and state? Thank goodness there’s punk bands representing this plight, but I find it utterly sad that Russia makes these hearings a point. This might be me in my “I THOUGHT THIS WAS AMERICA” perspective of other counties. I will admit that. The entire process, though, becomes absurd once Madonna speaks about it, and is dubbed a slut by a Russian official over Twitter.
The entire time I’ve been writing this, I’ve been trying to work in David Rakoff’s death. He was an amazing writer, though this was only though hindsight. I never read any of his books straight through, but I now remember loving his interview on The Daily Show when I saw it on television years ago. Combined with the various stories he has read on This American Life, he’s already a personal hero I never knew I had. I fear this is the standard “Hype the dead” rhetoric seen in every remembrance, but you must respect him: He had a lot of anxiety and depression throughout his life, but yet he made a cozy home within the burden of being by acknowledging it. If you look through his published internet work, you don’t see a progression. Instead, you see being. You see all these terrific descriptions of the horrific, with startling clarity, never hindering a man better than his medical problems. The anxiety and the fear never shook him from writing his absolute truths. He watched it swim alongside him.