Last week, the Hollywood Reporter published an absorbing exposé about the oft-seen 'No Animals Were Harmed' credit that appears at the end of many movies and television shows. The article is thoroughly researched and features interviews with members of the American Humane Association, the organization that gives out the credit, but the gist is that the credit often doesn't mean what it seems to mean. Author Gary Barun reveals that the AHA routinely approves use of the credit for movies on which animals were badly hurt. Or, if the the harm done to the animals is too severe to ignore, the AHA rewrites the credit to read 'American Humane Association monitored the animal action' and doesn't follow up on the reasons for the downgrade. Among the worst abuses:
"A Husky dog was punched repeatedly in its diaphragm on Disney’s 2006 Antarctic sledding movie Eight Below, starring Paul Walker, and a chipmunk was fatally squashed in Paramount’s 2006 Matthew McConaughey-Sarah Jessica Parker romantic comedy Failure to Launch. In 2003, the AHA chose not to publicly speak of the dozens of dead fish and squid that washed up on shore over four days during the filming of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Crewmembers had taken no precautions to protect marine life when they set off special-effects explosions in the ocean, according to the AHA rep on set."The AHA doesn't count putting animals into dangerous situations as harming them, either. For instance, Ang Lee's Life of Pi, a movie about a boy stranded in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, received the 'No Harm' credit despite the real-life tiger used in the film nearly drowning in a water tank during a dicey take. Baurn depicts the AHA, once a crusader for the humane treatment of animals in the film industry, as increasingly unwilling to speak out against Hollywood interests, in no small part because much of its budget now depends on grants from industry organizations. It's a sobering read sure to upset some animal lovers, but also a stirring piece of journalism good enough to inspire people to action. Read it here.