The real Voight-Kampff test of our era is whether you have ever searched “grizzly man death footage” after watching the fascinating but ultimately unsatisfying Grizzly Man. You yourself have looked for it many times, late at night, usually alone. One night — expecting nothing — you find yourself clicking on a new link reading simply “Grizzly Man Dies.” The video loads. At first there is only darkness. Suddenly, a piercing scream fills your small room. Then there is only silence. At last the lights go up and documentarian Werner Herzog appears on your screen, sitting in an old rocking chair. He smiles blandly, then addresses you by your Christian name.
WH: Welcome. I see you have found your way here. So many of you have. May we speak together, for a time? Would you like that?
You: Can you…can you hear me?
WH: I can, yes. If I couldn’t, however, it would hardly matter. Everyone who finds me here has the same things to say.
You: I’m not — look, I’m not happy that he died. I just — if he was going to die, and he did, I mean — Look, if you rent a movie called Grizzly Man about a man who was eaten by grizzly bears, I hardly think it’s unreasonable to expect to see –or hear, as the case may be — a man get eaten by a grizzly bear sometime before the credits.
WH: [Calm, emotionless eye contact]
You [heatedly]: Oh, come right the fuck on. Don’t get all high and fucking mighty with me. You got to hear it. You made us watch you hear it. Like a fucking tease. You sat there, all…all “getting to listen to Grizzly Man footage Werner Herzog” in your precious castle, describing how bad the sounds of a man getting eaten by a bear are but not letting us listen to a man getting eaten by a bear.
WH: [Gentle silence]
You: Oh, go right ahead and strictly fuck yourself. I know it’s a bad idea. I know I’d have regretted watching it the second it started. I know it would give me nightmares and I’d develop a new sympathy for Timothy Treadwell. I know he’s a real person, and so was his girlfriend, and…look, I know. I know I’ll hate myself the second I hit play. I know I’ll regret it quite possibly for the rest of my life. [breaks down sobbing] I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, I’m sorry…
WH: I have nothing left to say to you. Should you still wish to hear the audio you came for, a pop-up will appear in the upper-right corner of the screen. Make good choic…
You click the pop-up. In the moment before you hear the noises of two human beings torn asunder by the paws and claws of a wild animal, you see a moue of disdain cross Herzog’s face. The memory of that facial expression remains with you even longer than the exact nature of the sound of teeth scraping curls off the surface of living bone.