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Ruckus Over Death of Animals Used for Hobbit Films

2012 November 19
by Shared by Steve Rust

A story by Nick Perry of the Associated Press published today, “Wranglers Say Horses, Other Animals Used in ‘Hobbit’ Movies Died on Unsafe New Zealand Farm,” is raising quite a stir on the blogosphere – even Deadline Hollywood is covering the story. According to Perry, handlers who worked on the new Hobbit films issued a complain that twenty-seven animals have died who were kept in unsafe conditions at a farm and exposed to sinkholes, bluffs, and other “death traps.”  According to the American Humane Association, which oversees the treatment of non-human animals used for film production, no animals were harmed “on set” during production. However, as Perry reports, the AHA “also says the wranglers’ complaints highlight shortcomings in its oversight system, which monitors film sets but not the facilities where the animals are housed and trained.” In a response, detailed by Deadline Hollywood in a story titled, “Peter Jackson and ‘Hobbit’ Producers Deny Claims of Abuse in Animal Deaths,” the filmmakers were quick to distance themselves from the deaths, claiming in a press release: “The producers completely reject the accusations that twenty seven animals died due to mistreatment during the making of the films. Extraordinary measures were taken to make sure that animals were not used during action sequences or any other sequence that might create undue stress for the animals involved.”

For ecocritics, this issue highlights the need for further research on the treatment of animals during media production and the need to analyze and theorize the media industry’s increasing use of computer-generated animals.  Claire Molloy has recently done some work on the treatment of chimpanzees for an essay in the collection Beyond Human: From Animality to Transhumanism. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Fifth Estate news show also has online video links to its 1982 and 2008 versions of the program Cruel Camera: Cruelty to Animals in the Entertainment Industry. Though it may seem easy to suggest that CGI can eliminate the exploitation of animal labor in media production, many viewers have strong feelings about this issue and the need for “real” animals to be used to represent “real” animals. Consider the ideological and cultural issues that lie behind the following sample of comments left on the Deadline Hollywood website in response to this story:

  • The Lord of the Rings/Hobbit movies are SO good – I honestly don’t care if they killed 1000 animals to make them – It worth it! PETA – stop your whining and try to address some real problems in the world.

    Comment by Steve Crompton — Monday November 19, 2012 @ 3:03pm

  • The AHA follows the lead of Hollywood management And all these fools who say it is only animals so who cares…I care and hope you choke on your steak.

    Comment by Hollyvet — Monday November 19, 2012 @ 3:16pm PST

  • Its simple really, when you are trying to bring attention to your cause you point the finger at the people with money. Poor farmers won’t be ordered to give millions to Animal rights causes, but if you accuse a big company it gets your cause in the news, makes it easier for you to get donations, and provides a bigger target for the cause.

    This is the real world. People and animals died from many causes ranging from murder to accidents to natural causes. Even if you do take every precaution to be humane we’re all mortal.

    Comment by Brian K — Monday November 19, 2012 @ 4:33pm PST  


  • Who cares if they killed a few animals. We kill them every day when we eat them! Plus, wouldn’t you rather see a real animal onscreen than a stupid CGI version?

    Comment by john — Monday November 19, 2012 @ 12:46pm PST  

    • You are a sociopath.

      Comment by JohnJohn — Monday November 19, 2012 @ 1:20pm

  • a human died on the set of expendables 2 and another on the new lone ranger. so who gives a shit about an animal dying?

    Comment by steve1 — Monday November 19, 2012 @ 11:52am PST  

    • No life, including an innocent animal that has no free will, should be lost because of a movie. Pig

      Comment by Producer — Monday November 19, 2012 @ 4:29pm



One Response leave one →
  1. srust permalink*
    November 28, 2012

    Update: At the New Zealand Premier of ‘The Hobbit’ on November 28, producer/director Peter Jackson again denied all charges associated with the death of animals used in the making of the film and claimed that absolutely no abuse occurred on set.

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