Sarah Palin hunting: Why the world shakes when she shoots a caribou
Sarah Palin hunting: Some commentators see a political commentary in Sarah Palin hunting caribou on 'Sarah Palin's Alaska,' calling the caribou, 'Obambi.' Others see animal cruelty. To hunters, though, the furor shows that urban America doesn't understand rural life.
A caribou peeks over a ridge in the north Alaskan tundra. Shots ring out, the animal collapses.Skip to next paragraph
It's a familiar scene on cable hunting shows, but this time, with Sarah Palin hitting the target on the widely watched TLC program, "Sarah Palin's Alaska," the kill shot became so much more. A "snuff film," fumed Hollywood producer Aaron Sorkin. "An allegory for politics" with "Obambi" representing "the elegant animal standing above the fray," posits The New York Times' Maureen Dowd.
The scenes playing out on "Sarah Palin's Alaska" – including her clubbing a large halibut, per common fishing practice – have goaded liberals to attack the former vice presidential candidate for exploiting animals for her own political purposes. But they also raise a deeper question: how much do urban and rural America – blue and red America – understand each other, or even want to?
The rural-urban divide on issues of conservation and hunting "is an interesting sociological experiment you're watching, the unfolding of a real debate going on," says Gary Lawson, a spokesman for US Sportsmen's Alliance, a pro-hunting group.
The idea that hunting and a pioneer mentality is morally wrong "is a mindset that's gaining in currency as people move to the cities and try to impose new ideas on top of ideas that have been tried and true historically for as long as can ever be remembered."
In that light, adds Lawson, "Palin has almost become a Rorschach test for how people feel about different kinds of cultural issues, which are often founded in the differences between where people live."
Though surely aware she'd face attacks for the segment, Palin seemed perplexed by someone with Sorkin's weighty pop culture influence – he most recently wrote the screenplay for "The Social Network," a movie about Facebook – drawing a parallel between hunting and dog fighting.