Thursday, January 10, 2013

An Animalistic Movie Protest

(From top to bottom) Nathan, Koda, Kingo, Thomas, and Gordon have a lot to say about the way their species are depicted in movies
Animals and cinema: they go together really well. Animals have been in the movies ever since I was knee-high to a snow cone. I’m only kidding! Animals have been in movies way before I was even born. Way before my mom’s mom was even born. With nothing overly exciting happening here in Riverville, New York (and that’s really rare around these parts), my junior photographer Daniel P. Smithwater and I thought this would be the perfect topic for this week. Now where was I . . . oh, I remember. Animals have been in movies for a long time. But sometimes, especially in a lot of those older movies, the movie makers weren’t happy with the animals they wanted in the movie: they wanted bigger, nastier, “badder” animals. So therefore they do a little “creative licensing.” Moviegoers love these “badder” animals . . . but what about the animals themselves? Well, the animals at Animal Adventures Inc. (who speak fluid English by the way) have quite a bit to say on this topic. So this week, we interviewed five different species of animals to get their opinions on these exaggerations. Also be sure to check out the pictures of the movies that these animals are portrayed in!

Our first interviewee is Nathan, a sharp-toothed Great White Shark. At 15 feet in length, he isn’t the biggest of the Great Whites, but he’s still pretty large. No doubt the most famous portrayal of a shark anywhere is in the Jaws trilogy. “I do not condone the movie Jaws,” says Nathan. “Or the sequel of Jaws, or the third Jaws. Actually, ‘not condoning’ is an understatement – I hate that movie!” When asked why he dislikes it so much, his response was, “That movie stereotyped all of us sharks! I mean, in the movie, Jaws is, for one thing, much larger than the real Great Whites, and he is portrayed as a ferocious, blood-thirsty monster that eats humans. There is a lot wrong with that picture! First of all, I can’t stand the taste of human flesh. I don’t know a single Great White that does. It’s a common misconception that all sharks are man-eaters, and despite being the largest flesh-eating sharks alive today, we don’t eat people. From watching the movie, people think that we love eating people. And that’s not true to say the least!” I then asked why sharks attack people so much. Nathan is then quoted for saying, “Because they resemble seals and sea lions, our favorite prey. I’ve never been in the wild but from what I recall, from below the water, people who float on surf boards with their arms extended resemble a seal or sea lion, so therefore we attack.” My last question to Nathan was why people seeing the movie Jaws makes such a bad impression on sharks everywhere. He says, “Because humans are hardheads, they believe everything they see. If they see a shark eating people on a movie, they believe that real Great White sharks are man-eaters. And since the release of Jaws, people have killed sharks by the millions, just out of fear. I mean, we’re busy minding out own business and these silly people come by and start killing us! In actuality, more sharks are killed by people than people are killed by sharks! Not to mention, the third Jaws takes place in Sea World! Now isn’t Sea World all about conservation? Then why in the world does the third Jaws take place in Sea World?!? I’ll never know. All I know is that that crazy movie trilogy is about the worst thing ever put on television and I out to . . .” Nathan had a lot more to say of course, but if I wrote everything he said, this article would take till next Christmas to read!
The movie that gave sharks a bad name! Most (if not all) attacks on people by Great White Sharks are by mistake!
The next animal we interviewed was Koda, the Timber Wolf. I found Timber to be much more . . . “controlled” than Nathan (no offense, Nathan!), so it was easy to get right to the point. “We wolves just have a bad rap,” Koda says. “Not only are we portrayed badly in movies, but also in classic stories. Who’s the one who gets in trouble for destroying the houses of three little pigs? The wolf. Who gets in trouble for almost eating Little Red Riding Hood’s Grandma? The wolf. I mean, because people are so quick to believe everything they hear, they think we wolves are evil animals.” Koda went on to explain that wolves are often persecuted in the wild for eating sheep. “It is true that sometimes wolves eat sheep,” he says, “but farmers should really invest in keeping their sheep and other livestock safe instead of grabbing a gun. I mean, we’re really way more scared of humans than they are of us. With the exception of wolves with rabies, we respect humans, after all they’re made in God’s image! I believe that humans should respect us as well and give us space in the wild. They should just give us room to live in the wild, replace that cheap picket fence keeping the sheep in and replace it with a more protective fence and humans and wolves can live together in harmony.”
The Big Bad Wolf at one of the Three Little Pig's Door
If wolves have a bad rap, check out the gorilla! Kingo the Mountain Gorilla has a “few” things to say about his portrayal in the movie King Kong. “In the movie King Kong,” Kingo starts, “we are portrayed as this 25-foot tall behemoth with sharp teeth, strong muscles, and a heart of violence. Sure we may have strong muscles and sharp teeth, but we’ve kept our pre-fall (the time before Adam and Eve sinned) diet – plants and fruits. Also, no gorilla or any other primate in the history of the planet has ever gotten that big! The largest primate ever to exist, and a close relation of mine, named Gigantopithicus was a big bloke, but he was only nine feet tall. Nowhere near the size of that fictional King Kong. Also, we aren’t nearly as violent as the movie suggests, and we don’t go yanking human women around like Kong does in the movie either.” I then asked why gorillas got such a bad rap in the first place. His response was, “Well, people are very, very superstitious. So when the first African explorers saw us, they immediately must have thought we were violent monsters and a lot of people didn’t bother to find out if that was true. Nothing could be further from the truth regarding our violence. The only times we get feisty is when we are provoked. Other than that, we’re as cool as cucumbers.” I then asked about their portrayal in Planet of the Apes. He says, “We were a little violent in there too. Now a movie I do like is Mighty Joe Young. Sure, the gorilla is too big in there as well, but he’s much more like a real animal than a Hollywood monster. I’d recommend that movie.”

King Kong, the gorilla with a fictional temper!
Our second to last animal is none other than Thomas, a Tyrannosaurus rex. T. rex has been in numerous films, books, games and etc. So I decided to see if he was also getting a bad rap. “I wouldn’t call it a ‘bad rap,” says Thomas. “I’d say it’s more of a mere misconception. Because it is true that a wild Tyrannosaurus can be a vicious animal, but we aren’t monsters like we are sometimes portrayed in movies. One major misconception is that we are always hungry and will eat anything that moves at any given time. That’s not true! In the wild, we only kill when we’re hungry or when we’re provoked or another creature (or human) is in our territory. I have never killed a human (or any other creature for that matter, unless fish, mice, rats, lizards, frogs and insects count) before, and I don’t plan to, so that definitely proves that we aren’t blood-thirsty monsters.” I then asked if he was portrayed wrongly in most movies. “Yes and no,” he says. “Like I just said, we occasionally hunt when we’re hungry, but all T. rex have a softer side. My wife, Rachael will tell you that our species are great parents. We care for our young after they hatch and we even teach them how to hunt.” My last question for him was what he thought of his portrayal in the Jurassic Park trilogy. “Those are pretty accurate except for when they state that we T. rex lived millions of years ago,” Thomas answered. “We are not portrayed as pure evil monsters. While we are scary to humans in some scenes, our softer side is shown, especially in the second one where a pair is taking care of their few-week-old youngster.”

Jurassic Park, the first movie ever to portray dinosaurs pretty accurately
Our final interviewee is a little different from the others. While the others were complaining on how they were portrayed in movies, Gordon, the gorgonopsid is complaining on how she isn’t portrayed enough! “I’m a ferocious predator,” she says, “I have a pair of saber-teeth, strong legs and I’m fast. I don’t know why I’m hardly portrayed anywhere!” She also went on to explain that her species has been known for quite a while by scientists, but the general public can hardly pronounce her name. “It’s an insult,” Gordon continues. “I mean, everyone is so into dinosaurs, but they fail to realize how many other creatures God made for humans to enjoy and yet people hardly give us the recognition we’d like.” I then asked if she has been portrayed anywhere. “Sort of,” she paused. “The only times I’ve seen us gorgonopsids on a regular basis is in documentaries on the BBC or Discovery Channel. But that’s it. It’s like people are so attracted to dinosaurs, their own shadow casts down on me and my relations.” Hoping to end on a lighter note, I asked if there is any hope of her species coming out into public recognition. Her response was enlightening: “Yes actually. My species recently appeared in a television series on the BBC, I think it was called ‘Prehistoric’ or something like that. And we also have appeared in a 2012-2013 series called ‘Primeval: New Worldwhich is a spin-off from . . . oh! That’s the name of the other show: ‘Primeval’! So as I was saying, ‘Primeval: New World’ is a spin-off from Primeval, I can’t tell you whether I’d promote or not promote these programs because I haven’t really seen much of them yet, but at least we have an appearance in both programs, so maybe things are looking up for us gorgonopsids!”

A photo from Primeval, in this scene a gorgonopsid is fighting a weird-looking predator (this image came from this link)
So there you have it, the cunning revelations about creatures in cinema, coming from the animals themselves! So next time you visit the movie theater, please, spread the word of these animals’ plights so that maybe things will be on the bright side for these misunderstood critters!

Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan

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