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TV, Movies and Games > The Death of Animals in The Hobbit

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message 1: by Verena (last edited Aug 25, 2013 02:16PM) (new)

Verena (verenafuchs) | 2 comments Although I've enjoyed Peter Jackson's adaptations of Tolkien's books, my family and I have made the decision to not watch 'The Hobbit' to show our disapproval of what happened to the animals in this movie: http://www.peta.org/b/thepetafiles/ar... I've made the same decision with other productions before and please know that this is solely my own opinion that I won't force on someone else. Everyone has to decide what's best for them. This decision simply works best for me and my own conscience.


message 2: by Paul (new)

Paul  Perry (pezski) | 489 comments I would point out that PETA are hardly a trustworthy source; they do have a history of making stuff up to suit their own ends. Don't get me wrong, I agree with many of their stated aims, I just find their way of doing things wrong and occasionally worse than the harms they purport to stop.


message 3: by Gary (last edited Aug 25, 2013 04:40PM) (new)

Gary I encourage all people to act within the dictates of their conscious, so I support your decision not to see PJ's adaptation.

Personally, I'm not going to watch any more of them because I'm confident they'll be crap. The first installment made me want to bang my head on the wall... and from what I understand the things I dislike about his interpretation are only going to get worse in later installments, so I'll be joining you in your boycott, though for different reasons.


message 4: by George (last edited Aug 26, 2013 10:34AM) (new)

George (georgefromny) | 70 comments I have no problem with the producers and staff of The Hobbit or any other film being held to high ethical and legal standards regarding animal treatment. If there was negligence or corruption behind the AHA endorsement the film received, that is a legitimate issue.

That said, PETA is the animal-welfare version of the Westboro Baptist Church and long ago forfeited any consideration as an honest broker on these issues.

For example, if you follow through the links they provide, you come to this, reported by unnamed "whistleblowers:"

[Numerous chickens were mauled and killed by unsupervised dogs or trampled by other animals when left unprotected.]

http://www.peta.org/features/the-hobb...

Let's focus on the dogs.

Modern dogs are the genetic descendants of ancient timber wolves, who were obligate carnivores. (Modern wolves still are.)

Canine dentition, digestive anatomy and hunting/feeding behaviors are clearly biased towards carnivory as the optimal diet.

Dogs mauling and/or eating chickens is the most natural thing in world - although not much fun for the chicken - and would certainly occur in the absence of human activity or involvement.

Had Peter Jackson's pet cat killed a field mouse while roaming about an open-air movie set, would PETA include that in their list of animal abuses?

PETA is always banging on about leaving animals alone, animals not being ours to use, letting animals be animals and so forth... but when you leave these animals alone to be animals because they're not ours to use... some of them will promptly set about ripping others to shreds.

That's not abuse. That's nature.


message 5: by MarkB (new)

MarkB (Mark-B) | 69 comments Dogs eating chickens isn't particularly natural, as neither creature in its current form ever lived in the wild.

They're both domesticated breeds, bred and raised to live under human supervision.


message 6: by William (new)

William Stacey (williamstacey) Brainfromarous wrote: "I have no problem with the producers and staff of The Hobbit or any other film being held to high ethical and legal standards regarding animal treatment. If there was negligence or corruption behi..."

Brainfromarous wrote: "I have no problem with the producers and staff of The Hobbit or any other film being held to high ethical and legal standards regarding animal treatment. If there was negligence or corruption behi..."

Yeah, pretty much exactly what Brainfromarous just said, exactly right.

And MarkB, sorry, don't agree with you at all.


message 7: by MarkB (new)

MarkB (Mark-B) | 69 comments I'm not saying PETA is right, I'm just saying that if you put two kinds of domestic animal next to each other that were never meant to be left unsupervised together, you can't simply wash your hands of responsibility when one of them sets upon the other - any more than you could if a pet dog bites a child.

They're their owner's responsibility, 100% of the time.


message 8: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments William wrote: "I'm not saying PETA is right, I'm just saying that if you put two kinds of domestic animal next to each other that were never meant to be left unsupervised together, you can't simply wash your hands of responsibility when one of them sets upon the other - any more than you could if a pet dog bites a child."

What does "meant to be" mean?


message 9: by George (last edited Aug 26, 2013 04:28PM) (new)

George (georgefromny) | 70 comments MarkB,

Modern breeds of dogs and chickens are certainly the work of human intervention but the species involved are not and both predate selective breeding.

Thousands of years past, the canids who would one day become dogs would have looked upon the fowl which would one day become chickens as prey and food and acted accordingly.

So was it "abuse" because the chickens were under human care and control?

I won't argue that the loss of those chickens to badly-supervised dogs placed an economic burden on their owners. But PETA isn't making a "property" argument; it's making a "rights" argument. A moral argument. So consider this:

Suppose no chickens on the movie set fell to the fangs of dogs but all were instead purchased by Jackson at the end of filming to be killed, cooked and served to the crew at a wrap party.

From a "rights" perspective, would that have been abusive by either the original owners or Jackson?

If not, why not? What kind of moral arithmetic would hold Jackson accountable for chickens taken by hungry dogs doing what dogs are "meant" to do, but would not condemn him for the multiple, deliberate killing and butchering of those same chickens?

How can one reckon deliberate killing less culpable than negligence in preventing the actions of others - in this case, others who aren't even human?

The only way to retain any sort of moral and logical coherence here would be to boycott The Hobbit the very moment the first tub of chicken salad appears on the craft service table; in other words, the kind of dogmatic absolutism which has made PETA a laughingstock.

Damn. Now I'm hungry. And not for chicken salad.


message 10: by MarkB (new)

MarkB (Mark-B) | 69 comments Brainfromarous wrote: "MarkB,

Modern breeds of dogs and chickens are certainly the work of human intervention but the species involved are not and both predate selective breeding.

Thousands of years past, the canids who would one day become dogs would have looked upon the fowl which would one day become chickens as prey and food and acted accordingly."


No, they wouldn't, because they lived in totally different environments. It took human intervention to bring them together - and, furthermore, to breed out most of the chicken's survival instincts and capability to evade predators.

"Suppose no chickens on the movie set fell to the fangs of dogs but all were instead purchased by Jackson at the end of filming to be killed, cooked and served to the crew at a wrap party.

From a "rights" perspective, would that have been abusive by either the original owners or Jackson?"


If they were slaughtered humanely with minimal suffering, no. If they were set upon with fangs and claws and left to bleed out, yes.


message 11: by William (new)

William Harlan (raunwynn) | 172 comments http://www.petakillsanimals.com/

"PETA killed a staggering 89.4 percent of the adoptable pets in its care during 2012."

"According to records from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, PETA killed 1,647 cats and dogs last year while placing just 19 in adoptive homes."

"The animal rights group is talking out of both sides of its mouth – on one side preaching its animal liberation agenda, while on the other signing the death warrant of over 89 percent of pets in its care. It’s beyond hypocritical."

"Despite its $36 million budget, PETA employees make little effort to find homes for the thousands of animals they kill every year. PETA President Ingrid Newkirk previously indicated to The Virginian-Pilot that the animal rights group could stop killing pets, but it would mean cutting down on press stunts and celebrity photo shoots: “We could become a no-kill shelter immediately. It means we wouldn't do as much work.""

“It seems PETA is more dedicated to publicity stunts than to keeping the animals in its own care alive,” Wilson continued. “It’s the height of hypocrisy for PETA to demonstrate for the ‘rights’ of rats and pigs, while killing tens of thousands of pets. It’s time that the Commonwealth of Virginia finally reclassifies PETA’s pet shelter for what it is – a slaughterhouse.”


message 12: by Casey (new)

Casey | 654 comments Whether you disagree with PETA or you agree with PETA, I think what is most important is to do your own research and make up your own mind.

I think the phrase, "If it ain't peer reviewed, it just ain't true" is a pretty good catchall.


message 13: by Alan (new)

Alan | 534 comments Casey wrote: "Whether you disagree with PETA or you agree with PETA, I think what is most important is to do your own research and make up your own mind.

I think the phrase, "If it ain't peer reviewed, it just ..."


Exactly this - I tried to look into the story on the web after Verena posted the PETA links. I could not find anything reliable after the wave of publicity surrounding the 2012 Hobbit premiere. The reporting from that time said that no animals were hurt by the filming of the Hobbit but there were injuries and some deaths at the farm where film animals were housed because the farm was run-down. Back then, the AHA stated that their endorsement was based on the treatment of animals on-set.

I couldn't find anything more recent and I couldn't find anything better than PETA's accusations and the film-maker's refutations of particular parts of the PETA claims. So, I can't feel secure in having an opinion on this topic. But ...

Even if PETA's version of the story were true, how many animals are injured on the average farm of that size every year? Also, a producer can be expected to know how to protect animals from the dangers of his own film set and can be expected to get better lodgings for his animals after problems are pointed out to him (which the stories said he did) but can he be expected to know beforehand that a nearby farm wouldn't be a proper place to house his animals?


message 14: by Mysterio2 (new)

Mysterio2 | 85 comments Anyone who accepts PETA as an unimpeachable source on matters of animal treatment isn't thinking critically, and therefore should not be taken seriously as a guide in making judgments of this sort.

It's entirely possible that animals were abused in an unconscionable way during the production of the Hobbit films, and that the AHA was asleep at the switch or co-opted somehow; but I certainly wouldn't accept that these things happened based solely on a report issued by PETA.


message 15: by George (new)

George (georgefromny) | 70 comments MarkB,

No, they wouldn't, because they lived in totally different environments. It took human intervention to bring them together - and, furthermore, to breed out most of the chicken's survival instincts and capability to evade predators.

I disagree. Small, flightless avians lack the ability to fend off attacks from determined feline or canine predators, in any era. That wasn't bred out; it was never there. Such animals rely on hyper-alertness to approaching enemies, safety-in-numbers crowd flocking and fast-twitch maneuvering (anyone who's ever tried to catch a wayward chicken has experienced this last one).

I don't deny that selective breeding has changed chickens (cows, horses, etc.) but I think claiming the "most of" something as fundamental to ethology as basic survival behavior has changed goes too far.

And those timber wolves of about 15 KYA who would become our modern dogs would absolutely have seen ur-chickens as prey animals. Their direct descendants, modern wolves, readily kill and eat field- and water-fowl to supplement their diets and there is no reason to think otherwise for wolves in bygone days.

----------

If they were slaughtered humanely with minimal suffering, no. If they were set upon with fangs and claws and left to bleed out, yes.

I agree. I'm all for humane killing of animals, if killing there must be.

But PETA's argument - here and in their whole agenda - is grounded in a "Rights" philosophy regarding animals, not a "least harm" calculus. By the internal and inescapable logic of their own worldview, PETA should call for a boycott of Jackson's films for manifold offenses - including killing animals for any kind of food no matter how painlessly that is done.

Instead, PETA acts like a cop who catches a drunk driver... then writes him up only for a broken headlight.


message 16: by Dazerla (new)

Dazerla | 220 comments Alan wrote: "I couldn't find anything more recent and I couldn't find anything better than PETA's accusations and the film-maker's refutations of particular parts of the PETA claims."

Then you must have used some odd search terms, I found a Huffington Post article about the issue within 5 seconds. I also remember seeing that article on my G+ feed when the Hobbit was in theaters.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11...

My personal opinion is that PETA is too extreme about these things. However, I do think that the loss of life of animals in a film due to incompetence or neglect, which there is evidence for with the horses, is unacceptable.


message 17: by Alan (new)

Alan | 534 comments Julia wrote: "Then you must have used some odd search terms, I found a Huffington Post article about the issue within 5 seconds..."

That was one of the articles I read. I couldn't find any coverage that wasn't tied to the release of the film so I couldn't find any follow up articles giving something better than that original back-and-forth about it.


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