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The Hobbit: an unexpected protest?

On The Radar | View Archive November 27, 2012, 5:17 pm

One day out from The Hobbit premiere in Wellington and apparently only 18 per cent of us care about it.

If that was a survey on how many of us care about the way animals are treated on film sets, it would be a more impressive result.

In saying that, it'll be interesting to see if People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) go through with their premiere protest.

I mean really, what’s the point?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a supporter of animal welfare, a true lover of animals, a sucker for all things cute.

Which is why I’m angry at how late the accusations of animal mistreatment on The Hobbit film set were made - far too late to save any animals.

PETA, an American-based organisation, came out with claims last week that five horses, a pony, and several goats, sheep and chickens were victim to mistreatment and died during Hobbit filming.

Hobbit producers say the accusations were made by anonymous wranglers who were dismissed during production.

Apparently the deaths happened where the animals were being kept, at a Wellington farm.

If the claims are true, well I don’t even want to go there. Focusing on the task at hand, this anonymous whistleblower made the accusations too late, and right now, that’s what matters.

In the words of SPCA chief executive Robyn Kippenberger, “people who report after the fact are just as bad as those perpetrating it.”

The SPCA were made aware of the complaints last year, but it was months after the alleged mistreatment and without any specific detail.

Are the complaints a personal vendetta for getting dismissed from production? Do they hold any truth?

These are things we as the New Zealand public cannot be sure on.

But we can be sure that protesting at a world premiere – in a Grim Reaper costume – isn’t going to achieve anything and will only draw negative attention to the film and to the country, while the whole world is watching.

If the animals were mistreated, then it's disgraceful that no one stood up and said something when it was happening.

Of course, we need to continue to fight for our animals, and in the right circumstances activism can make a difference.

But looking at this situation alone, a protest is going to do nothing for the animals if they were mistreated, and it’s too late to save them. There’s better ways to go about this.

Why doesn’t the whistleblower provide more details so the claims can be investigated? Then if they need to be, people can be brought to justice.

So PETA, I support what you stand for. But tell me, what do you want to get out of this protest? Publicity? Drama? Turmoil? Because I don’t think that’s doing anything for abused animals. And in the end, it’s supposed to be about the animals, right?

By Grace Bradshaw

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24 Comments

  1. GREGORY03:44pm Sunday 02nd December 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    I wouldn't cross the street to see the hobbits,i don't know what they smoke in Wellington.

    Reply
  2. Yokel11:42am Friday 30th November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    If I read the quote correctly, this is no more than an accusation from an anonymous source. It has no worth what so ever.

    Reply
  3. Wallee10:48am Friday 30th November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Do any of you people read previous posts ? I do , and am intrigued by this one, quoted below, origionally posted by " anonymous" who alleges, and I quote. Quote / "The person who is most at fault in the animal mistreatment cases is not Peter Jackson. It is the Animal Coordinator Steve Old. He was responsible for leasing that farm which was a hilly sheep farm unsuitable for horses. Several other suitable properties were put forward by the horse trainer that would have cost the same amount. He was also responsible for hiring staff that were not qualified to look after horses and vetoed every attempt of the horse trainer to hire suitable staff. He prevented the horse trainer from making sensible training decisions. Old insisted on letting his girlfriend train horses even though she was not qualified to even be riding them and caused many problems with their training when she did ride them. He also insisted on other unqualified people being allowed to ride horses. Steve Old did not put any safe and appropriate training facilities in place. This was because he wanted to ensure he got the job by coming in under the budget outlined by another more qualified Animal Coordinator. He prevented the horse trainer from putting any facilities in place other than those that the horse trainer paid for out of his own pocket. Steve Old turned a blind eye to wilful abuse of animals - one case in which his own father was the abuser of a pig. This same person - Les Old - also sexually harassed a female staff member. When she told Steve that Les had groped her Steve fired her. Steve used production money and resources on his own private projects such as The Great NZ Trek. He pulled staff members away from caring for the animals on the film and sent them to do work on projects elsewhere during which time they were paid with film money. He bullied staff members into keeping quiet about any negative aspects of their work and told them they would be fired if they didn't fall into line. The head horse trainer, another horse trainer and other wranglers resigned from the film after two months because their complaints about animal welfare were ignored and were not passed on to people higher up in the chain of command. Emails were sent after they resigned (in Feb 2011) detailing everything that was dangerous and needed to be rectified. I understand that these emails have only recently been passed on to Peter Jackson." Unquote

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  4. ancient-one10:03am Thursday 29th November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    A lot of people who are in such groups as PETA unfortunatly have no idea of reality on a farm. Animals die, not necessarily from mistreatment. It's like how slinks (still born animals) now have to be hidden from you poor city folk because it is too upsetting for you to see them on the side of a county road.

    Reply
  5. TonyT06:19am Thursday 29th November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    It's obvious to anyone who browses these forums that there are certain folk out there whom just hate, and lie, and are oblivious to truths or potential truths, or whom actively negate or vilify, to some end for any number of probable reasons. PETA taking this line might bring attention, which is good, but such aspersions might attract the commitment, of more of the aforementioned trolls, they need to take care, at this stage it seems their credibility is being sorely scorned by some wise thinkers and disregarded by most as crackpots and cranks. Just saying take care, examine your true purpose, and don't let the froth thirsty usurp your destiny...

    Reply
  6. poem09:06am Wednesday 28th November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    And dead right Wade, he sure is, Wealthy Hollywood click their fingers and key comes running, throwing millions of NZ tax payer dollars at their feet

    Reply
  7. poem09:02am Wednesday 28th November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    animals dying on peter jackson films appear to be a regular occurrence, and something definitely needs to be done about that.

    Reply
  8. Wade07:19am Wednesday 28th November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    John Key Hollywoods lap dog :(

    Reply
  9. Sam07:09am Wednesday 28th November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Too many ifs.

    Reply
  10. just like me03:02am Wednesday 28th November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    you cant tell me jackson didnt know about this tragic event ! - his film his problem

    Reply

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