|The USDA, PETA and Humane Society all conspire to protect horses from Kate.|
This week, HBO's series Luck quickly shut down production after three horses died. Permanently shut down production. The American Humane Association is in the middle of an investigation of the incidents, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had been putting pressure on HBO to give it up since they first heard of the problems.
A look at the history of Hollywood productions and animal actors shows that one of the first regulations protecting animals dates all the way back to 1940 (a year after a horse died jumping off a cliff in the film Jesse James). 1940. That's one year after Gone With The Wind came out. Elizabeth Taylor, who was 14 when she starred in National Velvet in 1944, could expect her horse to get better protection than she did. The law, enacted by the Motion Picture Association, required all productions to invite the Humane Association on all sets filming animals, and consult with an authorized representation from the organization.
Today, most states have very detailed animal cruelty statutes that apply to motion pictures and television, and the Human Association has their own rules published in a guide that is more than 120 pages long, and even includes three full pages about animals used on reality T.V.
Here are some of the reality T.V. provisions for animals (pages 31-33, if you are interested):
- Production should assign one or more specific crew members with responsibility ONLY for the needs of the animal “contestants ” Who was specifically assigned to the needs of the Gosselin kids?
- If animals are to be transported to a location, there should be time allowed for acclimation to the new environment and rest time following travel, prior to the start of production. How much rest did the Gosselins gets after long flights?
- Animals should never be left unattended or unsecured in a manner
- that would be unsafe or uncomfortable for the animals Animals
- shall not be left in the care of any person who is inexperienced in the
- proper care of the animals. How experienced was the crew with kids when the Gosselins were left with them?
- Camera angles and lighting should be done with a “stuffy” rather than
- the live animals. Who stood in for the kids when shots were being set up?
Many states, including California, require a set teacher on set to monitor children (set teachers do far more than just teach--they are required to know the applicable child labor laws and in some states have the power to shut down production), however there is no such oversight for reality T.V. kids.
We've come so far in protecting animals. HBO shut down Luck just like that. Why can't we be as vigilant when it comes to protecting kids? Is it because they don't have a bulldog organization like PETA behind them? Yet.