Within society, we have found ourselves for centuries coming together, usually with people of similar interests, to talk and discuss current aspects of every day life and can usually do so in a manner that bears no judgement. These days, with bonus outlets of media; social networks, blogs, forums, YouTube and even online newspapers, there are more places then ever before for people to gather, discuss and share opinions. These places are known as the Public Sphere. The Public Sphere is a key area in modern day society becoming the place of voice for thousands, usually tackling subjects that interfere with our ideologies toward life, or topics that touch on modern day anxieties (Adut 2012).
Last year, Melissa Bachman, a sporting hunter, made news headlines and filled social networking feeds around the globe after the above photo went viral. The photo of this beautiful but dead lion killed in the plains of South Africa for the pure joy of “spot hunting” saw hot debates arise in the Public Sphere with people expressing their disgust of this woman and the sport. But, as the public sphere is open to all, there were also a fair amount of people in support of the hunter, defending the sport and this photo (Adams 2013). This discussions radiated dramatically within the Public Sphere as it played on the ideology of most that we should no long live in a world that allows game hunting.
The Public Sphere went on that saw debate over who is to blame with some blaming South Africa and not Melissa Bachman (Moosa 2013).
Melissa Bachman, before the international lime lite from this photo was already a big figurehead in the world of sport hunting with a website http://www.melissabachman.com/, and even had hunting TV shows Winchest Deadly Passion and The National Geographic Channel series “Ultimate Survival Alaska” (Kenneally 2013). However, once the photo was viral, the Public Sphere allowed for the public to come together and share their upset, enough that the Public Sphere became the birthing ground of a viral petition for her TV shows to get axed, followed by success when Ultimate Survival Alaska was dropped by The Nation Geographic (Couch 2013).
Beyond that, the petition grew bigger demeaning from nearly half a million people that she also be banned from South Africa. And then if that wasn’t enough, recently the Public Sphere centralist the point which saw audiences from over 50 countries, organise a marching protest again the hunting of lions (Bekhechi 2014).
So from Melissa Bachman uploading this one photo onto Facebook, the public share is a place powerful enough to see hundreds of thousands of people around the world gather and become a place of unity and debates about no longer just Melissa Bachman, but the entire existence of game hunting and hunting laws in South Africa.
Adams, S 2013, Female hunters express support for lion killer Melissa Bachman and explain their love of blood sports, viewed 3 April 2014, <http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/melissa-bachman-female-hunters-olivia-2851506>.
Adut, A 2012, “A Theory of the Public Sphere”, Sociological Theory, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 238-262.
Bekhechi, M 2014, Time to end ‘canned hunting’ of lions: it’s nothing more than a violent recreational activity for wealthy, bored individuals, viewed 3 April 2014, <http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/time-to-end-canned-hunting-of-lions-its-nothing-more-than-a-violent-recreational-activity-for-wealthy-bored-individuals-9195428.html>.
Kenneally, T 2013, Lion Huntress Melissa Bachman Targeted With New Online Petition, viewed 3 April 2014, <http://www.thewrap.com/melissa-bachman-protest-winchester-deadly-passion>.
Moosa, T 2013, Lion hunter Melissa Bachman isn’t the problem. South Africa is, viewed 3 April 2014, <http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/23/melissa-bachman-lion-hunting-internet-backlash>.