The Outsiders on ABC Primetime

Anyone else watch Primetime: The Outsiders last night?  I don’t normally get into TV, Shala can vouch for that fact… but this show the minute I saw the previews had me mesmerized.  The whole point of this show is to show stories of situations that “normal” people could not relate to – or maybe to us… seem crazy.

By getting an inside look, we move from being an “outsider” to being an “insider”.  Or some crap like that.

That is what I got from it anyhow.

So this first one was about a man that lived in Alaska and had created a sanctuary for bears at his home.  Now this isn’t the same as someone creating a place where you cannot hunt or something… it was actually a guy rolling around in the grass with “wild” bear and becoming friends.

Now before we get too far into this, I do not want this to get mixed up with the story from a few years back about Timothy Treadwell.  You remember the guy who went out into the wild of Alaska and “lived” with bear, along with his girlfriend.  They video taped it all and were eventually killed and eaten by a grizzly bear on October 5th of 2003.

Later a documentary was made using the footage acquired by Treadwell & his girlfriend Amie Huguenard.  Grizzly Man was released in 2005 and out of respect the audio portion of the actual attack was not used in the documentary.

That backstory was mearly to help you distinquish the difference in the two.  The man featured in Primetime: The Outsiders goes by the name of Charlie Vandergaw.  Charlie is a 70 year old former science teacher that as spent the last 20 years in a remote bush area where he has befriended bears.

Charlie is admittedly a bit crazy, since he does spend lots of time with his furry friends – but it is obvious he has something that most of us do not have.  Almost as if he can “speak” bear.  His actions are insane to the outsider’s eye.  Quickly you realize just exactly what I am talking about when he swats a 300 pound black bear on his nose because he was messing with his window.  It helps you to realize just what I am talking about when I say “speak” bear.

Even though Charlie is crazy in most folks eyes… you will be amazed at how special his relationship with these bears is.  You can see his love and respect for these awesome animals and quickly you are pulled in and thinking you want to pet a bear.  Really.  To see him with a 400 pound bear laying its head on his stomach while he pets its ears… you wonder if these “beasts” are really “beasts” at all.

Charlie Vandergaw & his bears.

I know a lot of people will be mad at this guy and saying he is teaching folks to go out and pet bears.  I don’t think that is the point of this show though.  People are going to gripe about how he is training these bears by feeding them (which is illegal), but once again… I don’t think this is the point of the show.  I think we are shown this to help realize that bears & humans can live around each other – respect each other and possibly interact in some levels… whichout there being a SUPER HIGH sense of danger.  Do I think everyone should be feeding bears in their front yard, No.  Do I think that we should live amongst them and invite them in our kitchens… no.  But having a bear roam through town or pass 400 yards away shouldn’t be that big of a deal if you don’t provoke them and vice versa.

Just like any animal, there are bad seeds amongst bears.  There are blood thirsty bears that have tasted flesh and crave it… but that percentage is low and unless you plan on camping in their hunting trails and such… you will likely never encounter them. 

I hope that most people will take this show for what it is.  No, you shouldn’t be snuggling up with a grizzly after watching it, nor should you move to Alaska and decide to start hand-feeding black bears either.  But understand that Charlie chooses to do this and respects the bear and the land – he knows with one slap of a bear’s claws he can be finished… but he also feels a connection that he believes keeps this from happening. 

All in all… I don’t think that connection is one sided either.

I am excited to see the next special, not sure what it is about just yet, but I am sure it will open my eyes a bit more on life, this crazy world and maybe a group of people I have no clue about.  I hope you will do the same.

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