Veteran Filmmaker Criticizes Violent "Wildlife Pornography" on TV and at Amusement Parks
Chris Palmer, director of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at American University, argues in an op-ed at CNN.com that the tragic accident at SeaWorld Orlando should draw renewed attention to the ethics and safety of keeping Orcas as captive performing animals for spectators. As Palmer, a veteran of more than 25 years of wildlife filmmaking, writes:
Orcas and other large predators should not be held in captivity unless those doing so can make an overpoweringly persuasive case for it -- mainly that the animal's release into the wild, perhaps after an injury, will mean certain, immediate death. One reason behind my conviction: The lesson too many take away from marine park shows is wild animals are like pets. Some can be trained to obey a human's command on occasion, but no matter how much they may learn to tolerate human interaction, these animals are far from tame.
Palmer argues that amusement parks are part of a larger entertainment media industry trend--led by television programming and film--that promotes increasingly violent depictions of wildlife while promoting among audiences a false impression of the nature of animals, especially predators. As Palmer writes of this trend towards violent "wildlife pornography":
We are more comfortable watching from behind the safety of a clear barricade or on TV from the comfort of our couch. Here, we see animals as people-friendly, cuddly or as menacingly violent. We anthropomorphize them as having feelings and reactions similar our own. This makes the death of 40-year-old whale trainer Dawn Brancheau surprising to us. That it doesn't happen more often is the surprise.
There is one other aspect of our modern distance from nature that I believe we should acknowledge -- it is of a piece with this discussion.
I would suggest the dark flip side of audiences flocking to benign animal shows at theme parks is the impulse to watch increasingly violent wildlife films and TV shows.
Viewers thrill to films that show wild animals mating or hunting prey, complete with gnashing fangs, ripping flesh and spilling blood. It is, after all, an adrenaline rush. And what audiences want, entertainment organizations aim to provide by going to increasingly dangerous extremes.
The aggressive tactics used to draw animals to film sites and capture unnatural scenes, such as man-made feeding frenzies, produce what some call "wildlife pornography" -- films in which animals are exploited for viewers' pleasure and funders' return on investment.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.
- It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
- Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.
- The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
- Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
- Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Upload your mind? Here's a reality check on the Singularity.
- Though computer engineers claim to know what human consciousness is, many neuroscientists say that we're nowhere close to understanding what it is, or its source.
- Scientists are currently trying to upload human minds to silicon chips, or re-create consciousness with algorithms, but this may be hubristic because we still know so little about what it means to be human.
- Is transhumanism a journey forward or an escape from reality?
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.