Every year sees its line up of Hollywood blockbuster films that focus on animals. There was National Velvet, Seabiscuit, and now War Horse—just a few films associated with horses. Of course, there have been many others films depicting animals in zoos, circuses, as wild beasts of the jungle, etc. Then there are the television shows and commercials that use live animals as characters in the story or to push a product.
Whether the depictions are realistic or stylized to fit the producer’s and director’s image of what an animal should look like in a movie, television show, or commercial, there is one overriding issue we might all want to consider—what are the lives of these animals like away from the studio and the bright lights?
The American Humane Association (AHA) gives out the “no animals were harmed” stamp of approval to films and television shows that meet its standard, but all that means is that an AHA representative was present while the animals was performing before the camera. No AHA representative checks behind the scenes, is present when the animal is in rehearsals, or visits the location where the animal lives.
With all the modern technology we have today, animals can be depicted in the media without actually having to use a live animal. Of course, the depiction should be realistic, not stylized, and should support the humane treatment of animals in general.
When you think about it…humans make the best actors…nonhuman animals should appear only on the stage of their natural habitat, not on one in downtown Burbank.