“I’ll never forget it!” proclaims the ad for the Ciné-Kodak home movie camera that ran in the June 1932 issue of the Canadian Geographical Journal. An unremarkable tagline for a camera company, perhaps — until you see the accompanying image.
In it, a person — a woman, it seems, judging by the high-heeled shoe — stands on a rock behind a tree and dangles an unidentified object in front of a curious bear, which is standing on its back legs just a couple of metres away. “Title this shot, ‘The Timid Giver’,” the ad copy says. “Laugh at it for a lifetime. Value it as good human interest comedy.”
OK, Kodak. Sure. Because it’s hilarious to dangle food or a toy or a camera or whatever this object is in front of a wild animal. You wouldn’t catch any camera company in the world running an ad like this one today for fear of being pilloried for promoting such behaviour.
Still, people haven’t learned much in the 83 years since this ad appeared. Stories of tourists in Canada’s national parks trying to feed bears and other wildlife appear with alarming regularity. And then there’s the alarming instances of wildlife selfies, where tourists actually turn their backs on the likes of a grizzly bear or bison to capture, as the Ciné-Kodak ad says, “the raw material from which memories are made.”