Last week, me and the rest of the Film & Literature class watched a 2005 documentary called Grizzly Man, by German director, Werner Herzog. It explores archival footage recorded by a man named Timothy Treadwell, as he spent about 12 Summers in an Alaskan park, getting close to wild animals and talking about how much he loved bears… as well as the filmmaker explaining his shocking death when he and his girlfriend were killed and eaten by a bear in 2003.
After finishing it on Viewing Day 3 and writing down our answers from a discussion question sheet the teacher gave us, we all had a little talk about it.
When we got to the question about why people reacted (or, still react) with anger or hatred towards Timothy Treadwell, the teacher asked us, in a bit of an exaggerated voice to get his point across, “How many of you hate Timothy Treadwell?!” The moment he said that, I - who sits at the front of the room - turned around to see the other classmates, with a bit of a smile on my face (which I failed to suppress). Before we had finished this movie, I went on Web sites like deviantART, and always found comments from other people, saying things like, “He was so stupid,” “He got what he deserved,” “I have no sympathy for him.”
And, to my surprise, absolutely no one in my class raised their hands!
That was actually good to know/see/realize. I also read that Treadwell was possibly mentally insane, which kept him from knowing what he was truly doing (this was also a debated question in my class— was he deluded or did he really understand these animals?), and, with that said, I was reminded that this is Portland: a place known for being largely acceptable to the weird, the bicyclers, the hipsters, the homosexuals, etc.
P.S., some of the classmates’ answers I remember to the teacher’s question was: “I think people hate him because he brought his girlfriend along, and they both ended up getting killed,” “he was invading these animals’ habitats,” and “he was yelling at the park services/government, basically cussing them out.”