Q: mal de coucou
“I’d like to know something about ‘mal de coucou’. I think it means something like ‘pain of the cuckoo’ (?), but I don’t see the connection between these words and the definition you gave them. Could you explain this to me?” –waveringmind (ask me a question)
Here’s the definition of mal de coucou:
n. a phenomenon in which you have an active social life but very few close friends—people who you can trust, who you can be yourself with, who can help flush out the weird psychological toxins that tend to accumulate over time—which is a form of acute social malnutrition in which even if you devour an entire buffet of chitchat, you’ll still feel pangs of hunger.
Imagine your brain is a bird’s nest. Normally, you feed your attention to real substantive relationships that can then grow and sustain themselves. In mal de coucou, that precious attention is instead swallowed up by acquaintances you don’t really relate to, like cuckoo birds. These might look like real friendships but will either fly out of the nest or leave you feeling socially malnourished. Even if you’re constantly hanging out with people.
This particular sorrow is my little riff on the French term mal de caribou, which is a kind of starvation that occurs even when you’re eating plentiful quantities of lean meat, notably rabbit and caribou. You need to do more than just chew the fat, so to speak. As an accidental bonus, coucou is also a French colloquialism for ‘hey there!’
If you’re curious, you can usually find my comments about etymology, overextended metaphors, and the finer points of emotion on the Dictionary’s facebook page.
Discovery, Animal Planet, and History Channel exposed for killing animals for profit
These channels are failing the spirit of conservationism and education. They are failing inspiring awe in young people. Failing much needed inspiration in a very confused and conflicted world.
These shows are failing their core values, their main purpose, which is leadership in environmentalism and cultural education. Far worse, they are failing millions of young people - millions - who look up to them.
Please join me in asking Discovery, Animal Planet, and the History Channels to stop, apologize, and correct.
That’s an important read up there, folks. These “reality” shows are feeding an outdated and unscientific view of predator species. These are channels founded on principles of education and conservation (TLC, of course, left the building years ago). Are they willing to sacrifice that for what appears to be gratuitous bloodsport?
Like any media, you can vote with your eyeballs. And if you support any kind of rights for wild animals and natural spaces, you can not support these programs. If the account above is true, shame on these networks.
It speaks to part of a larger issue with nature films. The amazing footage we see in shows like Africa, Planet Earth, and Frozen Planet is rarely the result of serendipity. It involves years of careful research and preparation to maximize the chances of capturing nature’s majesty on camera, and what is captured is highly edited to create story, drama and emotion. These are uniquely human interests, and nature doesn’t include them in her original script.
That’s not to say we are being fleeced all the time. People like Sir David Attenborough take these concerns very seriously, and constantly strive to find the balance between entertainment and true nature in every varying instance. What we watch is real. But is it REAL?
I wonder how many people realize that, for instance, the famous polar bear birth scene from Frozen Planet was filmed in a zoo? Disney’s adorable Chimpanzee movie was not a documentary, but rather spliced together to create an emotional tale of adoption. Jason Goldman put together a great collection of opinions on the matter.
How far can we take allowances to deliver good edutainment before we are delivering bad science? The “reality” shows surely fail the test. But the others? What do you think?