Oct 182006
Authors: Anne Farrell

I recently heard a debate on the radio that talked about whether or not it was OK for an 8-year-old boy to dress up as zombie Steve Irwin, complete with stingray in tow, for Halloween. The overwhelming conclusion drawn was that the costume idea was entirely inappropriate because of its proximity to Irwin’s death.

My personal opinion of Steve Irwin is yes, he was a good person, he did a lot of great things for animals and he used his fame in a good way to raise awareness of the need for conservation. I think the Facebook groups about him and how fantastic he was and how tragic his death was might be a little extreme. He did good things for the world, and he had a tragic death. Yes, it’s sad, end of story.

Now what exactly is it that makes a zombie Steve Irwin costume any different from someone dressed up as Sonny Bono? Bono had a tragic death, he ran into a tree while skiing in Aspen. What about John Denver? He crashed his plane into the ocean, also very tragic.

I can see the point if you don’t like that the ‘Zombie Irwin’ would be accessorized with a stingray; that’s a little morbid. However, the costume in general is probably OK, even if he is a zombie.

First off, chances are no one who actually knew Irwin has any chance of coming into contact with someone wearing that costume. Secondly, he was a public figure, which leaves a lot of room for interpretation of his life, his death, his family and so on. At some point you have to accept that celebrities are not excluded from anything, even after their death, even if it may not be politically correct or respectful to their family.

I’m sure Britney Spears’ family doesn’t enjoy what they read about her in the tabloids but somehow that’s OK because she’s alive. Pictures of her, her baby, her husband, her dog and everything else about her life is open to scrutiny because she’s a celebrity and I’m sure there will be at least one person out there dressed up as her in some way this Halloween.

Maybe public figures have to die before it’s expected that they get the same respect as other people. How sad is that. Prior to Irwin’s death I know I’ve seen Saturday Night Live skits poking fun at his accent, his television show and his darling behavior toward animals. Does his death somehow exclude him from this ridicule?

Let Halloween be Halloween, and who cares what kids dress up as on the ghoulish day of fright?

Enough of the “RIP Steve Irwin” and the “Avenge Steve Irwin, Kill all Stingrays” Facebook groups. Put the man to rest, he’s not your best friend or the reason you want to go deep-sea fishing for stingrays. When it comes down to it, most of the people who are a part of those groups are mocking Irwin just as much as anyone who dresses up as him for Halloween.

This Irwin mania is out of hand. Unless we are suddenly pushing him for sainthood it’s just wholly unnecessary. It’s time to let the Crocodile Hunter rest in peace – may he live forever in syndication.

Anne Farrell is a junior technical journalism major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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