10 years ago today Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter, was killed by a stingray. I was pretty new to my job running LAist, trying desperately to bring traffic to our then-fledgling blog, when I thought of an idea.
I had been recently schooled in the world of Search Engine Optimization but nothing was clicking. I was up all night every night working hard to phrase things or write things that would reach the top of Google News. Even though I failed, one thing I noticed was it was easier from 3am-5am to get nibbles from the search engine because all of our competition was asleep and not publishing.
So a few days after Irwin’s death, I, a huge fan of old Vettes, whipped up the silliest thing I could think of to experiment with SEO headline writing and super late night publishing.
It quickly became the biggest day (at that time) traffic-wise in LAist history. it crashed the blog several times that morning as waves and waves of people came (for some reason to read the apology from a stingray?),
and naturally the comments section let me have it.
Why did I feel ok about making fun of a tragic death of a super upbeat tv personality? In my mind, Steve Irwin, as lovable as he was, knew he was doing extremely dangerous things with wild animals for money, fame, and ratings. Sure some of it was educational, but it was totally unnecessary entertainment on par with Johnny Knoxville.
Was I sad he was dead? Of course. But he went out doing what he loved and I assumed he would have gotten a laugh out of my piece because he sure seemed to love to laugh.
So dark humor it was.