Monday, November 19, 2012

Big Names Behaving Badly: Hobbit & Highlights

Remember Highlights magazine?
I learned so much from that thing as a child. For instance:

As a kid it would never have occurred to me not to use a glass before this cartoon, and now even as an adult I stick my face under the faucet all the time! It saves time and doing dishes. Genius. I always hated that Gallant kid; he was such a suck-up. There was definitely something sinister about his constant choir-boy goodness. Apparently, I'm not the only one to feel this way, because there are lots and lots of hilarious Highlights and Goofus and Gallant parodies floating around on the web:

But anyway, back to Highlights unintentionally sending kids the wrong message:

"Blessed Ride" my ass! Thanks, Highlights, for showing kids everywhere that it's cool to make your horse rear up by yanking on its mouth with a nasty-ass bit, while you cling onto a saddle equipped with only one too-long stirrup, wearing no helmet.

Child endangerment aside, this article was obviously written by someone whose horse experience was limited to Barbie cowgirl playsets. Kessa Shipley writes about the "metal cinch," for one. And why is this article coming out in the December issue, actually released in November? The Three Kings Day ride, called Cabalgata de Cristo Rey, doesn't take place until January, around the time Three Kings Day is actually celebrated in Mexico.  So was this writer recycling pictures and stories from the 2011 ride, or what?

*sigh* You can read more on the Christ the King ride here and here and watch some rather jerky video here. As a parting note, what is it with Mexican cowboys? More than half of them seem to equip their horses with tie-downs, huge shanked bits and nasty nosebands. And they have huge-ass spurs! Damn people, express your culture via art or something.

Okay okay, so a dorky kids magazine got it wrong. They were blinded by a lack of knowledge and trying to be overly culturally inclusive. Not so surprising. But the next big name on the chopping block is an uber-rich movie producer. It's Peter Jackson and The Hobbit!

For those of you who aren't uber-geeks, The Hobbit is sort of a prequel to the three book/movie fantasy Lord of the Rings series, and it's getting its own three-part movie. So far so good? Okay. This whole franchise is freaking humongous. The three previous movies combined raked in almost three billion dollars at the box office. Three billion, with a "b," and that doesn't even cover video games, merchandise, etc.

Part of the success of the fantasy epic's movie adaptations were their extreme attention to detail. Costumes, sets, songs, etc were so meticulously created, every nerd on the planet had a simultaneous orgasm. Producer Peter Jackson even had people learn to speak and write Elvish! That's like learning Latin, except with harder words, and no one else knew it to be able to teach them.

Unfortunately, despite all this attention to detail and wads and wads of cash floating around, some basics seemed to have slipped through the cracks; basics like not killing off the animals. (Click article to enlarge.)

The guy in the picture there was hired by Peter Jackson (well, his company) to "wrangle," i.e. care for and transport, the live animals used on set. Now, you have to be pretty sure something bad is happening to want to quit from, bad-mouth, then protest your employer, especially if that employer is a very influential multi-billion-dollar movie company. That's just one reason I believe this shit is real. In addition, while a couple of farm-animal deaths could be chalked up to just the cycle of life (or chicken stupidity) we're talking about 27 critters out of about 150 here. That's an 18% mortality rate! It sounds like it could very easily have been avoided too, with proper fencing, segregated pastures and someone who knew even a little bit about colic. Shame on Peter Jackson and his crew for not spending more of their huge mountain of money on basic animal care. Read more here and here. PETA will of course be protesting, and I'm glad.

Thanks to Squidbunny/Erin for the tip on this story.

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