Thursday, February 24, 2011

What's real, and what's not, and does it really matter?

Captive or wild? *
Wildlife lovers, do yourselves a favor and read this article, What's Real And What's Not Behind Reality TV's Nature Shows? For some time I have been aware of the ethical issues presented in the article, for example, recently there was lively discussion on the matter among the letters to the editor of Wyoming Wildlife. There really are two sides to the story, in the sense that if the purpose of wildlife filming/photography is to educate, then it seems justifiable to use game farm animals or "rent-a-wildlife" like Bart the Bear actor, as long as the animals are treated properly, although I also think it is reasonable for the viewers to be notified.
I personally know several superb wildlife photographers, including Doug Dance (still photography), who works extremely hard to capture un-manipulated natural reality in all its exquisiteness, and Bob Landis, film-maker/videographer par excellence, who likewise works night and day, every day of the year, at his craft, and who never, ever uses captive animals no matter how expeditious it might be to achieve results. But neither Doug nor Bob works under the thumb of the corporate media and their schedules can attune to that of the natural world they portray so well. For the moment, I will not chime in on the reality, or not, of the human wilderness survival "reality" shows, nor on that of any other "reality" TV.

Please leave your comments, this issue is not straightforward and bears more, much more, discussion. 

*Taken at West Yellowstone's wonderful Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. Is it 100% obvious these wolves are captive?


  1. I think that any "reality" show that sets up animals to be killed simply to drive up ratings is reprehensible. I've often wondered how these shows can get such good shots of things without having set them up. In my opinion, any show claiming to be showing what's going on "in the wild" when its not is lying to us and should have to at least have a disclaimer stating that somewhere.

  2. Mmmmm. I think I need more information on these TV production. I do enjoy survival books, Lauran Hillenbrands Unbroken a recent best selling example. Bart was on of my favorite actors and whenever I saw him about to "attack, kill and eat" someone in a movie or TV "documentary, I'd always smile remember what a big sweetie he was. The TV "reality" show are a joke which I don't except except the survivor one which I find exceedingly funny with their contrived situation. How is one truely required to eat and drink gross things in the wild with a big production crews following you around and recording it for TV ratings. Hilarious.... but not so if people believe this stuff is actually happening. :)

  3. Thanks for your comments, TB and Ellen!

  4. But the good shows these days are very, very good indeed. I remember the old days when virtually all the animals were portrayed as being a lot like Mutual of Omaha.