On the Genesis Awards and Cognitive Dissonance
The 21st Genesis Awards promises to be a star-studded gala at the Beverly Hilton, and I’m sure it will be. It is "The only event of its kind honoring the major news and entertainment media for showcasing animal-protection issues." It is presented by the Hollywood Office of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and honors films, various television programming, and print journalism that address animal protection.
The cognitive dissonance materializes, I hope, when you look through the list of nominees. For me, this notion is best illustrated by juxtaposing the following:
OUTSTANDING CHILDREN’S PROGRAMMING
AVATAR: The Last Air Bender — Appa’s Lost Days — Nickelodeon — For a mythical, yet relevant, tale about a creature enslaved for human entertainment.
OUTSTANDING FAMILY FEATURE FILM
CHARLOTTE’S WEB — Paramount Pictures/Walden Media — For a charming adaptation of a timeless tale about friendship, loyalty and respect for all living creatures.
EIGHT BELOW — Walt Disney Pictures — For a heroic adventure about one man’s determination to rescue his team of sled dogs abandoned in Antarctica.
HOOT — Walden Media — For an inspiring story of a group of kids who come together to challenge a local building plan in order to preserve the habitat of a family of owls.
Do you see the problem? On AVATAR, the topic is a creature enslaved for entertainment. Meanwhile, all of the three nominees for Outstanding Family Feature Film star creatures enslaved for entertainment. I haven’t seen any of the three nominees because I boycott films that star live animals. And I don’t claim to know about the particular working, living, or training conditions of any of the animals. But none of that is relevant. What’s relevant is that the animals are being used for our entertainment. Period.
What I would like to see is a category–and more movies–that feature computer generated animals rather than real ones. I’m sure it’s expensive, but if you’re making a point about animals living lives that are unnatural to them (like last year’s winner Duma, which I did rent due to my unnatural obsession with all things cheetah combined with a weak moment at Blockbuster), don’t you think it’s rather odd to make that point by using animals? Isn’t that a tad hypocritical?
I’m happy that awareness is rising about animal issues. But I think we need to think through the way we go about transmitting our messages.