Thursday, June 9, 2011

Nonhumans Used For Entertainment: Animal Actors

I enjoy watching movies with my family. We often have our family movie nights. However, I try not to watch movies with "animal actors". That is, any nonhuman animals who have been trained to star in the movie. I'll explain why in this blog post.

It's wrong to use nonhuman animals for any form of human entertainment. The only animals who should be used for human entertainment is humans! As long as they're willing humans - not people forced to entertain others. The problem with using nonhumans as entertainment is that they are forced to do it. If they had a choice, they would choose not to. After all, it's not in their nature to entertain humans. Who would want to perform tricks in order to entertain another species?

The dogs, cats, and other nonhumans you see in films are slaves, trained to do specific things in the script. They may have to perform the same scene over and over until perfection. Sometimes they may have to pull off crazy stunts. Wild animals trained for movies have to live in cages, away from their natural habitats. They're put into uncomfortable environments. Some may even be zapped with an electric shock in order to force them to do their tricks. Trainers may say they love the animals they use, but in the end, it's all about human entertainment. The nonhumans don't benefit at all from it.

The only way I would see it okay to have other animals in a film, is if they're not forced to do anything. In one of my hobby films "The Tortoise and the Hare", starring Gem the dog, I used footage my sister took of Gem playing around. She didn't know she was being filmed, as far as she knew, it was just a fun game of fetch. The only thing specific to the film's script she had to do was cross the finish line, which she did with the promise of a little scoop of margarine (her favourite treat) on the other side of the finish line :-) However, I doubt any Hollywood movies requiring animal actors would use this approach.

So, with the problems of using nonhumans for live action movies, it would be better to watch animated movies, wouldn't it?

It may not seem to harm other animals, since it's all drawn or computer generated. However - animators do need to study their subjects. This could mean getting an animal into the studio, and having him sit still for hours while the animators study and sketch him. A certain image comes to my head whenever I think about this. A photograph in a book about the making of the Lion King showed a chained lion, a trainer standing by him, and animators gathered around the animal, sketching him. That image haunts me now. The poor lion!

Animators need to find different, creative, non-violent ways of studying other animals. Maybe they could go to a rescue sanctuary to study the animals there. Or go and study them in their natural habitat. Or just do what I do, and guess what they should look like! :-)

In the smart digital age we're in now, we should stop using live nonhumans for movies and - if you really need nonhuman stars in your films - use computer generated 3D animations of them instead. But they should be studied by animators in a method that won't affect them in any way.

The easiest thing to do would be to just not have any other animals in your films at all - and don't support the films that do by buying them (watching them when they come on TV, I think is okay, if you really want to watch a film starring nonhuman slaves..) I have a dream of becoming a director someday, and if I do *ahem* when I do, my films will be as vegan-friendly as I can make them. Maybe I will even start up a vegan film company! As well as being vegan-friendly, I also want to make my films make-up free, if possible. I just don't like the stuff. Everyone is beautiful, just the way they are!

I sure hope that, one day, nonhuman animals will no longer be a slave of the film industry - or any industry for that matter! I'm off to film school next year, my sister's off to animation school in a year or two... here's hoping someday I'll be able to set up a real vegan film company!

Fingers crossed.

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