Monday, January 24, 2011

The Narwhal: A Pop Culture Icon in the Make

I feel like for the past week I've been learning a lot.  Ever have one of those weeks?  It seems like every day I had another unique addition to my personal Beryl Encyclopedia Britaniwannabea.

I'd like to share some of this information with you, mostly because there seems to be a common depressing thread thread.

And I don't want to carry that burden alone.

I'm a sharer.

The Narwhal

I've been learning about narwhals, aka the arctic animal Monodon Monoceros.  It feeds off flatfish and squid.  It travels in pods of 10 to 100 other narwhals.  There are only about 75,000 left in the world.  And I think you know where I'm going with this:  climate change.

Remember how everyone is getting upset these days about polar bears and going extinct due to the ice melting in the arctic?  Well, turns out, yes, it's a bad time to be a polar bear.  But, it's even worse to be a narwhal.

The Predators

Narwhals have just a few predators.  But, for starts, one of them IS the polar bear.  The others?  Humans and killer whales.  So, basically the narwhal is up against the species that was convinced their horns washed up on shore were actually from unicorns that happened to go swimming, and the animal that tried to play killer whale volleyball with Mumble from Happy Feet.
Do you remember the scene from Happy Feet I'm talking about?  I remember thinking right before watching it, "This film can't get any weirder; it starts off with the dude who played Wolverine singing like Elvis...and now there is a mass of dancing penguins...and now Robbin Williams is speaking in a undefined foreign accent...again.  I mean, it can't get any more awkward right?" And then BOOM you're hit with a terrifying hunting scene with killer whales and cute penguins.

FYI, the thing that finishes that scene that is 'scarier and bigger' than the giant Killer Whales?  It's an ice breaker ship.  Aka, humans.  So penguins, it turns out, have the same predators in common with the narwhal.  But, life gets even trickier for the narwhal in today's modern, superficial, image-obsessed world.

Polar Bears Are Cuter

Narwhals don't have a cute furry appearance that easily can be transformed into anthropomorphic animation for the youth of America.  Narwhals have evolved to have five inches of blubber around their entire body, a long horn that is actually a tooth that pierces through their upper lip, and because of where their food (flatfish and squid) lives, they like to hide out in the cracks of impacted ice.

I'm trying to imagine film makers attempting to apply the same story line from Happy Feet onto the narwhal.  For some reason, "Happy Fin" just doesn't have the same ring to it.  Also, in trying to imagine a narwhal being voiced by an actor, all I can come up with is Christopher Walken.  And that's mostly due to this video that went viral a while back.  For some reason that just makes me think of marine mammal noises.  I don't know why.  If you skip to 0:27 you might see what I'm talking about.  Either way, having the Headless Horseman guy turn into a marine mammal with a giant horn might persuade the masses to expedite the extinction of this species, rather than save it.

Humans Are To Blame...Again

Let's go back to the impacted ice because it's not just ice that's just like, hey, chilling.  No, it is ice that is in its essence in transition based on seasonal and climate changes--environmental flux is part of the delicate life cycle and food chain of arctic.  And humans like to fuck with flux.  Or be in denial about it.

For some reason it only makes sense that our mass-production of processed foods, goods, plastics, hybrids of plastic and organic materials and depletion of natural resources has a karmic reflux of putting out toxins, polluting the air, and adding gases that absorb rays from the sun like its crack.

My Plan To Save The Narwhal

Basically, I realize that I have no control over arctic ice flow.

And I have no control over the incredibly strong human urge to ignore uncomfortable things.

But, I do recognize that by making something cool, whilst informative, I might have a shot at helping the oppressed out there.  And yes, I consider the narwhal to be an oppressed animal.

So, I present to you my latest campaign idea (if I had to come up with one) for the narwhal.

I'm going to try to submit this drawing to a t-shirt company.  Maybe it'll get picked up, who knows?

In the meantime, I leave you with a poem that is eerily reminiscent of this week's post.  My mom sent it to me when I told her I was working on a post on arctic animals (because of COURSE she just has poems about arctic animals lying around).  The poem is by Louis Jenkins, an American poet from Oklahoma.  An audio recording of the poem by Garrison Keillor can be found on The Writer's Almanac website.


In Sitka, because they are fond of them,
People have named the seals. Every seal
is named Earl because they are killed one
after another by the orca, the killer
whale; seal bodies tossed left and right
into the air. "At least he didn't get
Earl," someone says. And sure enough,
after a time, that same friendly,
bewhiskered face bobs to the surface.
It's Earl again. Well, how else are you
to live except by denial, by some
palatable fiction, some little song to
sing while the inevitable, the black and
white blindsiding fact, comes hurtling
toward you out of the deep?


1 comment:

  1. Seems to me that the Narwhal is already getting more famous in pop culture - I've noticed it popping up in loads of t-shirt designs all over the place! Maybe your campaign is working! :D