Horror Movie: It’s the 6.30 Fishing Show

Imagine this. A TV show called ‘Birding Australia’. A crew of Aussie blokes head out into the wilderness with traps, lures, radar and baits, and pluck birds from the skies, drowning them in aquariums so we can have a nice long wet look at them, simultaneously ripping a barbed hook out of their beak before giving them a tongue kiss and throwing them into the air. Unless they decide to cook them. Mmmm. Wedge-tailed eagle must, if anything, taste like chicken.

Apart from certain cultures’ sacred exclusions (and the western world’s pathetic embrace of the latest cute and cuddly victim of mankind’s rapaciousness) it is generally open slather on any creature of the earth as far as hunting, killing and eating goes. But in all this world of hunnin’ and killin’, of all the creatures subject to the indignity of slaughter at the hands of human beings, there is but one class of animal that must have salt rubbed into their wounds by starring in their own horror show, frequently of the snuff variety.

I speak of the humble fish and the ever increasing array of television shows devoted to the hunting of them, the recent proliferation of which rivals only the rise of the cooking show. Cooking shows are a form of pornography I reckon. Show them to a starving person and see how they enjoy it. Fishing shows are pornography as well, a pornography of death, and yet somehow they manage to present as a nature show, the kin of David Attenborough? Continually amazing are the fishing guys’ expressions of awe and wonderment at the beautiful environment they are simultaneously raping of its finest specimens from the decks of their deisel spewing dugong killers.

Why fish? It can’t simply be that they inhabit another element. Whales enjoy mass hysteria from compassionate westerners without ever stepping on land. It’s not scales. Even snakes engender some sympathy and a deranged few would enjoy watching them caught and slaughtered, despite their high ranking in the phobia stakes. Is it their very abundance, the fact that, until recently, they seemed to be endlessly replenished from an ocean that seemed boundless? Pigeons are not so humiliated, yet share the same qualities.

I am reminded of the absurdity of caging birds in a country where all that is required to be surrounded by an extraordinary array of spectacular birds is to plant a bunch of native shrubs. But we wants it. We wants to own it. It’s not good enough to see it, to enjoy its existence in a¬†fairly natural state. Could not fisher people merely transform themselves into skin divers?

How can we enjoy watching the hunting of fish when enjoying watching any other creature caught and killed would raise the serial killer question? The reigning contender for an answer, as weak as it is, is that fish are stupid, stone cold, stunned as a mullet, so dumb they actually don’t mind at all being lured, ripped, asphyxiated and consumed, let alone osculated. Fish, like no other creature, enjoy being eaten, didn’t you know? But if dumbness was a criteria for a complete lack of sympathy, the very people presenting these shows could be publicly flogged and we’d fill the MCG.

I am not ashamed to say that watching fishing shows, as I occasionally, inadvertantly do, sometimes brings me to tears. A massive marlin is a great game fish, I’m sure, a test of strength and endurance that could be rivaled only by something like… going to the gym and overextending? Arm wrestling an equal competitor? To appreciate a one in a million survivor of decades, a regent of the sea, a marvel of nature, must we pull it from the sea and kill it?

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