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Zombie Porn and “Dry Lures”

I came late to the television series “The Walking Dead” and started watching the first season primarily because of Jonah Goldberg’s NRO posts and the general buzz around it. Up until now, I’ve always disliked zombie porn and thought viewers who were into it mainly liked the idea of shooting people they disagreed with in the head.

I see the appeal. But that’s not what this post is about.

While watching the fourth episode of the series, I threw up my hands in despair. Not because of the zombies, or the plot line, or the soap opera angles of the show, but because the episode begins with two sisters fishing in a boat in what looks like a gravel pit. They have a heart-to-heart discussion about their father and learning to fish while growing up (prior to the world going kablooey because of zombies everywhere) and it’s supposed to tug at the heartstrings. 

But as someone who is passionate about fishing and outdoor pursuits in general, it drove me crazy. One woman held a fly-rod but fished as if it were a branch with a string tied on it and a worm on the end. The two sisters discussed how their father taught one how to fish with “bait” and keep what she caught and the other to fish with “dry lures” and turn the fish back. Our hearts were supposed to be tugged at because the two characters figured out that dad realized they were different people and treated them as such.

However, my reaction was: Your father was insane. Everything about the scene was wrong. Fly rods are nine feet long and must be cast. Fly fishermen (or women) don’t use bait, which is the point of fly-fishing. There is no such thing as a “dry lure,” although there are dry flies (flies that float instead of sink). Lures are made of metal and cast with a spinning rod. Flies are not. Among the people I fish with — and that includes men, women, and my daughters — the entire scene would make them hoot with laughter, as it did for me.

Later in the series, a deer hunter shoots a deer. And that’s it.He doesn’t field dress it, or drag it home, or cut it up, or eat it. He just shoots it and that’s the last we ever see of the dead animal or the meat. My guess is that 95 percent of the viewers never even thought about what should have happened next.

The point here isn’t that Hollywood writers get everything wrong, because of course they do. We’re used to that. Cops, lawyers, and military types are always pointing out inaccuracies. It gets boring.

What bothers me is that the fishing, hunting, and outdoor culture of America is fading away. Not only do Hollywood writers not have a clue about basic outdoor skills and experiences, but viewers don’t either. I see it constantly: men wearing fly-fishing shirts outdoors (because of the many pockets and the fact that they think it makes them look cool) who have never cast a rod; folks who don’t know the difference between the “gun culture” and outdoor pursuits where a gun may or may not be involved; people who wear mountain climbing gear while driving huge 4x4s and have never taken the vehicle off the road; folks who’ve never tasted actual wild meat ordering “elk medallions” for dinner, not realizing they consist of farm-raised New Zealand red deer.

One of the unique attributes that made Americans different was our egalitarian view of hunting, fishing, and the outdoors in general. It wasn’t just for aristocrats and massive landowners. We repaired our own cars, fixed up our houses, and brought wild game and fish to the table. I think we still like to think of ourselves that way (or many of us do). My freezer is stocked with elk, pheasants, wild turkeys, pronghorn antelope, and fish. Often, when we serve it, our guests are trying this exotic food for the first time in their lives. And they’re often shocked to find out how good it is!

What do you think? Have most Americans lost their connection to the natural world to the degree that they think deer hunters kill the animal and leave it to rot or that one must fish with “dry lures”? Or that wearing stylized outdoor gear makes one an outdoorsman or outdoorswoman (outdoors-person?). And is this disconnect just one more factor in our decline?