I am always afraid of snakes. Always.
I am also curious about those who are fascinated by snakes. Three years ago, I met a young man in Los Angeles who have tens of snakes as pets! I did a little video about him:
Towards the end of the video, you can hear my scared voice after noticing one of his pet snakes took a stroll into his neighbor’s hard.
This March, I was encouraged to go to Sweetwater, TX, where the world’s largest Rattlesnake Roundup was going on. This annual event started in 1958. During the three day event, a large number of wild rattlesnakes are captured, mutilated, and killed for the amusement of observers and participants.
It is said that the event attracts 35,000 visitors per year and results in the capture of 1% of the Texas’ rattlesnake population. Some of the rattlesnakes are cooked and eaten at the event.
I don’t know if this is an Americana thing. But it is certainly very new to me, one from China. And if I dig deep, I may use some anthropological theories to explain the whole thing, which may not be that interesting as those rattlesnakes. Still we may have a question mark or two in our mind? Why? Why snakes? Why rattlesnakes?Why are people so fascinated by this poisonous creature? What’s behind the behaviors of killing and eating the snakes? Why buy a T-shirt with a huge picture of snake? Why buy snake skin decorations? To be brave? Well, just to be brave? An adventure towards some mysteries? Or all this is just part of the normality of life and I simply didn’t realize it due to some stereotypes in my head?
The Chinese usually see snakes as poisonous, sly, violent, and dangerous. It is something we try to avoid. There is one exception, though. That is Madam White Snake, an ancient myth about a snake-turned woman, who married a scholar in human world. It is the Chinese version of Juliet and Romeo. It a beautiful tragic story that has fascinated the Chinese for hundreds of years. There are books, operas, movies and TV shows about the tragedy. Recently, it was turned into a Western Style opera, composed by a renowned Chinese-American musician, Long Zhou, who won a Pulitzer prize for it.
The music is mesmerizing. If interested, you can listen to it here: