Animals and "Entertainment"
Contemporary motion pictures and television shows (including commercials) are replete with animals, sometimes as principal players (eg., the bear, in Anthony Hopkins' recent THE EDGE), and more often as mere props or background. Although the use of animas in some films may be monitored for clear-cut abuse (eg., trip wires for horses), for every case of actual abuse there are dozens of examples where the use (or, more precisely, the misuse) of animals is rife, where what happens passes without comment, and where a very wrong (and sometimes, even dangerous) message is sent. A prime example of the latter is the current Jack Nicholson hit AS GOOD AS IT GETS, an otherwise funny film which makes some excellent points about the human condition. However, in the movie's preview (doubtless seen by many more people than see the actual film), and in an early scene in the picture itself, the irrascible Nicholson shoves a small dog down a laundry shute. The audience laughs. No matter that the dog isn't hurt, no matter that later in the picture Nicholson comes to care for the dog, no matter that the animal is part of the picture's happy ending. Shoving that small dog down a laundry shute sends the wrong message, especially to youngsters on whom the balance of the film's subtleties will be lost. In young or twisted minds, there is little difference between a laundry shute or an open window. If what Nicholson did was funny, then why isn't it equally funny to shove an animal off a roof.