By Helena Hanson
There is nothing that humankind needs more right now than David Attenborough. It is as though some extremely intelligent soothsayer at the BBC predicted that the people of Britain would need something to drag us out of our deep political depression. They knew that Brexit would fuck us over. They knew that the US election would fuck us over. They even knew that Honey G and her X Factor novelty act would be fucking us over, weekly. In the name of preventing mass destruction and rioting, they gave us back Attenborough.
There is no greater sight to the human eye than David Attenborough wearing a blue poofy duffle coat, floating through snowy mountains in a hot air balloon that happens to be the exact same colour as his little coat. You just know the moment that beautiful man opens his lovely, little old man mouth that something wonderful is about to happen, and on Sunday the 6th of November 2016, it was Planet Earth II. The documentary is essentially a metaphor for student life. If you have missed this exceptionally clear parallel then you are not watching it properly. Not convinced? Stay with me.
Let me set the scene for you. As the camera pans the one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, a an isolated island that sparkles and glitters in the sunlight comes into view. Attenborough’s voice slowly pulls you into a trance-like state as you succumb to his magical, comforting powers. You absorb the soft music and background birdsong.
David introduces us to a three toed pygmy sloth. “This is a male, and life here suits him well…” he begins, as the sloth lounges in a tree with a dorky smile on his face that makes him appear half pissed and half asleep. His eyes are closed as he basks in the Panama sunshine. David assures us that the sleepy sloth has no worries as he grins through his nap, looking exactly like a creature that has absolutely nothing to worry about.
All of a sudden, sleepy sloth is awoken by the distant call of a female. David tells us that she is “somewhere, out there” and we know that shit is about to get real for this little guy. His eyes open wide in disbelief and he jumps out of his tree as though it is Christmas morning. As quickly as his creepy little slothy arms and legs will carry him, he is off, ready to track down the woman of his dreams.
It is not easy. Sleepy sloth navigates himself across the oceans, swimming like your mum on holiday when she doesn’t want to get water in her eyes or her hair wet. He swings through the branches, his little legs moving faster than they ever have before. He sees her, lounging seductively on a branch.
Alas, she already has a baby, and she’s not ready to mate again for at least another year. Sleepy sloth is gutted. There’s not much opportunity for action in these parts and he has wasted a whole day being misled. He slumps back in his tree, belly hanging over the edge, head drooped in shame.
We’ve seen it before, haven’t we? Life lounging in the Panama islands is really no different to life in Cathays Terrace. From this point on, that little voice in your head must read anything in quotation marks very slowly, and in Attenborough’s voice. The camera would zoom in and focuses on a boy, lay in his bedroom in Cathays. “This is a male, and life here suits him well.” Attenborough begins “but there is something missing. This male, is yet to find a mate.”
Slowly, the sound of the distant, thumping base will fade in. The young male’s head will lift, alert to the sounds of the sesh. He will slowly rise from his bed and begin running. Attenborough will say “in these desperate conditions, there is only one place that he will have any chance of finding a suitor.” Dramatic music plays, as the camera zooms to the doors of The Lash.
Just as the little sloth braved the oceans for his suitor, the little human man will brave the trek up the SU stairs. He will face the interrogation from the bouncers. He will be forced to push and shove his way through crowds of hundreds to find his mate. He catches the eye of a potential suitor and attempts to woo her with “a special dance that has been perfected over a series of decades. Alas…” David will sigh “she is not impressed by his dab, and she begins to lose interest.”
The scene will become increasingly similar to that filmed in the island of Komodo, Indonesia. Two dragons are destined to ferociously fight it out for the attention of a female. David tells us that in dragon society, size is everything. In human society, things are no different.
“The only competition…” Attenborough narrates, “Comes from others of their own kind…” In swags a large and aggressive opponent, equipped with a beer in hand. “I was here first, mate” he will grumble and Attenborough will say “territory has been crossed…and so it begins”. We will see hand gestures, developing into shoves before escalating into fighting. We will watch it in slow motion, and enjoy it in shiny, sweaty, bloody, high definition.
Then finally, “Defeated. Only the most powerful of fuckboys will win the chance to mate”. Then, a close up shot of the successful male’s sweaty grin and high fives with equally lairy mates, as he saunters off into the night with his suitor. Then zoom in to a shot of the loser, with his head pressed against the ground, shirt sticky with beer, looking as sad and defeated as sleepy sloth.
We can see ourselves as we watch Planet Earth. We recognise the sleepy sloth as that guy who searches for a mate in the lash every Wednesday. We recognise the slutty sloth that entices you from across the dancefloor then tells you that she has a boyfriend. We recognise those duelling dragons as those who can’t go out without beating the shit out of somebody. It’s real life, and it’s happening right here in Cathays.
In a world of uncertainty, thank God, for David Attenborough.