Frozen Planet Follies

There’s a controversy brewing around the BBC nature show Frozen Planet.  It involves striking footage of newborn polar bear cubs that some viewers thought was filmed in a snowy bear den in the Arctic.  It turns out that the footage was shot in a Dutch animal park, instead.

The BBC denies that it sought to mislead anyone.  It concedes that the footage of the cubs and their mother was shown after footage of the Arctic, but points out that a “behind the scenes” footage on the show’s website discloses the animal park filming.  The BBC and the show’s presenter, Sir David Attenborough, also note that such filming is standard procedure for nature shows and that the footage of the polar bears in their den would be impossible to obtain in the wild.

I’m sure all of that is true, but it is still disillusioning to learn that not all footage screened in “nature” shows is, in fact, filmed in natural surroundings.  Perhaps it was naive on my part, but I always thought that part of the wonder of such shows was the uncanny ability of photographers to get real-world footage of the animals, reptiles, and insects in their unadorned, natural surroundings.  Now I know that, before I gape in wonderment, I first have to check the website for behind-the-scenes disclaimers and disclosures.

The Misguided Concept Of “Natural Deodorant”

The other day Kish went to the store and, among other things, bought me some deodorant.  She came home with Arm & Hammer “Essentials Natural Deodorant.”  The container says the product provides “Natural Protection,” is “Aluminum Free” and “Paraben Free,” and contains “natural plant extracts to absorb and fight odor.”  It’s unscented, of course.

I appreciate my wife thoughtfully buying personal hygiene products for me.  In this instance, however, I think she made a questionable choice — because when it comes to deodorant and anti-perspirant, and avoiding those embarrassing pitstain moments, I want all of the protection modern technology can buy.  God help me, I want aluminum, if it does the job!  I want parabens (whatever they are)!  Hey, shouldn’t zinc be in their somewhere, too?  Any American consumer knows that the best odor protections are mined, not plucked from the canopies of tropical rain forests.

The marketing campaigns for such “natural” items don’t make sense to me.  For one thing, I am buying a product in a plastic container that I will use and throw away, to be deposited in a landfill.  Given that reality, how much can I really care about “natural” anything?  Shouldn’t “natural” deodorant be sold in a hemp satchel or some other biodegradable receptacle?  And am I really supposed to believe that tribal shamans somewhere were experimenting with kelp, mosses, and the crushed berries of the zum-zum tree in a relentless quest to determine which natural substance would best absorb bodily odors and stanch the sweat flow?  When you are clad only in a loincloth, are frequently smeared with mud, and are trying to avoid dangerous predators during your forays into the steaming jungle, you’re probably not focused with single-minded intensity on perspiration issues.

I’d feel more confident in the “natural product” deodorant marketing pitch if there were natives somewhere whose traditional garb included light blue button-down cotton shirts that showed, in sharp contrast, those unseemly underarm stains.