A few weeks ago I posted a Badass of the Week article on the site describing all the reasons why the continent of Australia was a badass, brutal land plagued by some of the most insanely dangerous killer creatures the world has ever seen. In the article, Anders described the Down Under as "a terrible place that leaves none but the strongest alive." Well nobody demonstrated that axiom better than The Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. He was one of the craziest, the fastest, and the most badassed motherfuckers ever. He made a living out of thrusting himself into life-or-death duels with the world's most dangerous animals simply for personal enjoyment and the entertainment and education of others.
The day after Steve's tragic death in a freak diving accident, I received numerous emails from people suggesting that I post an article about him. In fact, I got more requests for him than I've ever received for any one individual. While I certainly didn't need any convincing, I found these two emails particularly compelling:
Don't make Steve Irwin your next badass of the week as a lame gesture because he died recently, don't make him badass of the week because when he got stabbed in the heart by a stingray he grabbed onto one of the most heavily barbed spikes on earth and just yanked it the fuck out. Make him your next badass of the week because he made a career out of wrestling crocodiles, snakes, and every other foul reptile known to man, do it because he did all of that with a big grin on his face. In short do it because he made your previous badass (Australia) his fucking bitch.
In light of the article on how badass Australia is, I was hoping perhaps you'd make Steve Irwin a badass soon, as he is most definitely one of the most badass people to come out of Australia in the past 50 years. Everything you discussed in the Australia article, Steve not only came way closer than anybody should do many of the most poisonous things, but he actually pissed many of them off for the entertainment and education of his avid fans using nothing but his bare hands, and sometimes twigs.
I think it would be a bloody shame if Steve Irwin wasn't made a badass this week, or soon after, as he faced all the same stuff you said we should fear in Australia with a thick accent and a big old grin, and he even died on camera doing the same kinds of things.
This is all true. Steve Irwin didn't even think twice about tackling fifteen foot crocs, wrestling giant pythons or holding the most poisonous spiders on the planet ten inches from his face. Not only did he do shit that most so-called badasses would never even THINK of attempting in their right minds; He fucking loved it. He lived for that shit. He traveled to every corner of the earth to find the deadliest, most ferocious animals imaginable. He was fearless, reckless and balls-out 110% of the time.
My brother and I used to watch The Crocodile Hunter pretty much every Saturday morning growing up. I remember that one time he was doing a series where he went around Australia trying to catch the top ten most poisonous snakes on the entire continent, just for the hell of it. And you know what? He did it. He didn't even give a crap. Without any hesitation he would jam his hand into a random hole in the ground, blindly grab this damn insane pissed-off hyper-deadly four-foot-long snake by it's tail, hold it up and exclaim, "Croikey!! This is the world's third-most poisonous snake! One bite from him is powerful enough to kill ten thousand orangoutangs in about two seconds!!!", and he'd be going on while this fucking snake would be hissing and striking at his face trying to bite him. And this guy would get PUMPED by it. To hear him carry on you'd think that he'd just won the lottery; instead he was being snapped at by one of the world's most dangerous creatures - something that would make most sane people crap their pants. That's how much he enjoyed that stuff, and that's fucking hardcore. Actually, that's probably a step up from hardcore. For lack of a better term, that's like "Steve Irwin Hardcore".
Generally my Badass of the Week articles tend to degenerate into over-statement, exaggeration and hyperbole within the span of about two sentences. With Steve, there's no need for any of that. The guy was a professional badass. He was an intrepid explorer and was utterly fearless, ready and willing to take on anything he might encounter in the dangerous Australian brush. He could sneak up on an angry crocodile, and leap at it with such lightning-quick agility that he'd have that bastard in a choke hold before it even knew what the hell was going on. He'd flip out of his boat, lunge at it, there would be a flurry of water and limbs and then BAM - instant crocodile submission. Wherever there was a dangerous animal, Steve wasn't far behind. He was tough, funny and half-insane, and as a result his shows were some of the greatest animal education tools ever created. Also, I once saw him jump into a kiddie pool full of water and wrestle an inflatable alligator raft on Oprah or Maury or one of those shows. He didn't even give a crap.
To top it all off, Steve loved and respected these killer animals so much that he could never hurt them. Instead he dedicated his life to preserving his country's native fauna. In my opinion that's even more badass, because it takes way more skill to capture a wild croc than to kill one. Sure, any drunken hick can pop a varmint in the face with a shotgun, but only a true Grade-A badass would jump on it's back, wrestle it into submission with his bare hands and then take it to a private nature preserve where it would be safe from poachers and other potential human predators. He was a powerful force in the wildlife conservation movement, raising tons of money and awareness for wildlife conservation efforts, starting up his own zoo, and doing whatever he could to try and save the planet's wild animals. With his passing, the conservation effort lost one of it's brightest stars.
The Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin's death is a tragedy that has effectively dropped the overall badassitude of the entire planet by at least 5%. But in the end, he died doing what he loved. He understood the risks that came with his line of work, and he constantly faced them not only without any fear or hesitation, but with the energy and passion that can only come from doing something that you truly love. He entertained the world for ten years, teaching a generation of children and adults alike exactly what it means to be a total badass.
We will miss you, Steve.