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Lemming Suicide Myth
  • 1958 Walt Disney produced "White Wilderness," part of the studio's "True Life Adventure" series. "White Wilderness" featured a segment on lemmings, detailing their strange compulsion to commit mass suicide.

    According to a 1983 investigation by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation producer Brian Vallee, the lemming scenes were faked. The lemmings supposedly committing mass suicide by leaping into the ocean were actually thrown off a cliff by the Disney filmmakers. The epic "lemming migration" was staged using careful editing, tight camera angles and a few dozen lemmings running on snow covered lazy-Susan style turntable.

    "White Wilderness" was filmed in Alberta, Canada, a landlocked province, and not on location in lemmings' natural habitat. There are about 20 lemming species found in the circumpolar north - but evidently not in that area of Alberta. So the Disney people bought lemmings from Inuit children a couple provinces away in Manitoba and staged the whole sequence.

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  • It's worth seeing the video--I remember seeing it when I was a kid.

    The fake film won the Academy Award for best documentary.

  • So much for the value of the "Academy Award"…

  • I knew this, but now I'm wondering if the lemmings thrown by the filmmakers actually died. They don't seem to drown in the water. Unless there are nylon strings tied to their paws to drag them underwater, of course.

  • "Disney had to have gotten that idea from somewhere," said Thomas McDonough, the state wildlife biologist. Disney likely confused dispersal with migration, he added, and embellished a kernel of truth. Lemming populations fluctuate enormously based on predators, food, climate and other factors. Under ideal conditions, in a single year a population of voles can increase by a factor of ten. When they've exhausted the local food supply, they disperse, as do moose, beaver and many other animals.

    Lemmings can swim and will cross bodies of water in their quest for greener pastures. Sometimes they drown. Dispersal and accidental death is a far cry from the instinctive, deliberate mass suicide depicted in "White Wilderness," but Hibbler explains that life is tough in the lemmings' "weird world of frozen chaos." The voice-over implies that lemmings take the plunge every seven to ten years to alleviate overpopulation.

    Wildlife Films: Seeing But Not Always Believing

    In Shooting in the Wild: An Insider's Account of Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom, Chris Palmer exposes some of the dirty secrets behind nature documentaries, like manufactured sounds and staged animal fights.

  • This one has been pretty well known for its shenanigans for a while but it pales in comparison to what was done in Milo & Otis.

    The Sunday Mail reported at the time that Animal Liberation Queensland founder Jacqui Kent alleged the killing of more than 20 kittens during production and added that she was disturbed by reports from Europe which alleged other animals had been injured, as in one case where a producer allegedly had broken a cat's paw to make it appear unsteady on its feet. Other scenes that were the source of controversy were the scene of a kitten flying off a cliff and a scene of a pug fighting a bear.

    The film was reported to have the approval of the American Humane Society, despite not having their officers present during filming.

    ...both American and Japanese oversight groups just gave boilerplate approvals and disclaimers for the film without actually monitoring production and only taking the producer's word that the animals were treated properly.

  • In this report on Hollywood Animal abuse, HLN Jane Velez-Mitchell tortures her own dog by yelling in its ear. Look at the poor dog's expression at the end of the report. Where's Ellie May Clampett when you need her?

    Animals Were Harmed: Hollywood's Nightmare of Death

    Hollywood’s long history of animal cruelty

  • The King (Life of Pi) incident is sensationalism and not actual cruelty. It also begs the question of the AHA rep who was let go even has a basic understanding of tigers with respect to water.

    Likewise, the three horses that died during the shooting of HBO's Luck was not a case of cruelty. The only reason anyone knows these three horses died is because a show was being filmed there. Many, many more horses died at that track before HBO was there and have died since HBO left because horse racing is a dangerous sport that kills horses with regularity.

    The two that died on the track were running at much lower speed than a normal race is run, because of the need for multiple takes but also because speed can be enhanced in-camera and was unnecessary to really run them hard. In other words, they weren't run as hard as they otherwise would be doing the job they would normally have. And horses continue to die on the track, every track because somehow horse racing itself is somehow less cruel?

    The third horse died as a freak accident. No cameras were around and it wasn't on the track. The horse was being lead back to the stables and it got spooked by something completely unrelated (which happens), it reared up, lost balance and hit its head on a railing or post and died. Even though it had nothing at all to do with HBO, the fact that it happened at the track while they were there made them go, "fuck it, we're done." Because it wouldn't matter to all the White Knights more interested in a reason to be mad than understanding the facts of the situation.

    LOL, the kook talking enforcement monitoring? Seriously? They're barely trained to do their normal job. No, what we need is people with actual judgement more interested in actual animal welfare and the facts of what's going on, monitors to actually show up anytime an animal is on set (that understands, specifically, the animals being used) and naive audience members to care more about facts and less about finger pointing.

    None of this is at all like the premeditated or simply negligent stuff that happens as a result of cutting corners, behaving psychotically, etc. Those incidents are where attention should be focused, rooting out true evil and punishing stupidity. The Hollywood Reporter is a joke and HLN apparently learned video journalism from FOX News.

  • Since humans in Hollywood treat humans so well, ( the streets of Hollywood are littered with generations of discarded talent, the true Walking Dead! And many more perished bringing the wrong donut to Joel Silver...Who??!! ) I guess they have to pretend they care about something: pet dogs, whales or "the Environment" in general. Anything but...people! Anything to show the world that Hollywood has a heart. Maybe in the same way Dick Cheney had his "bad ticker story" to suggest that he had a heart! Cue The Wizard of Oz: "If I only had a Heart!"

    Then again, more animals were harmed bringing us a Happy Meal... Read any history of The United Fruit Company or The Seven Sisters, and you realize more humans were harmed bringing bananas to our table or putting a tiger in our tank than any Hollywood movie. And the end credit bloopers on Jackie Chan movies proudly proclaim " Wow, lots and lots stunt guys hurt making my movie! ME hurt too!"

  • Uh,yeah...anyway...animal cruelty either did or didn't happen. When the raving White Knights make all sorts of noise in cases where it didn't actually happen it diminishes their ability to matter when it does happen. They become a din of noise that even reasonably sensitive people want to ignore. It doesn't always matter if they're right this time if they've already been marginalized because they can't focus and can't deal with facts instead of sensationalism and fear mongering.

  • It's a bit ridiculous and totally OT, but when I first saw this post's title I thought:
    what, how, when did Lemmy^ died in the first place?!!!

    Then I got relieved it was only about humans braking puppies' legs and stuff for the sake of profit, ejem I mean art

    ^ Ian Fraser Kilmister

  • @maxr my Lemmy LPs and cassettes did go over a cliff, when I switched over to digital music files a few years back! ....

    In 2013, the BBC started to put the warning "dramatised natural history" on its nature documentaries if they used staged animal scenes

    The Salon article above was more factual, mentioning the horses were treated well during HBO Luck. although it doesn't go into much detail. Other sources state "Horse racing scenes being filmed were limited to three-eighths of a mile or less. " and yes, two of the deaths were accidents having nothing to do with shooting the show. Poor ratings, high budget, ego clashes between producers, director and stars may have been another major factor in its cancellation...

    Anatomically racehorses have strong muscular bodies, but fine almost brittle legs with the extremities composed only of skin, tendons and bone. This anatomical design requires that horses cannot lie down for long periods, and cannot rest one leg.

    Into the Wild, Ethically: Nature Filmmakers Need a Code of Conduct

  • The Salon article above was more factual, mentioning the horses were treated well during HBO Luck. although it doesn't go into much detail...

    Cool. Yeah, I was bummed the show got cancelled. After several disappointing films from Michael Mann I was so surprised to see him return to something more cinematic. If you haven't seen the show I highly recommend it, if you're into gangsters. It's an unconventional gangster show, but it weaves in separate but overlapping and intertwined narratives with a set of gamblers, a pair of trainers, a jockey's agent and several racers. I've never been interested in horse racing but the way the races were photographed and edited created a wholly unexpected, exciting and visceral experience. I guess not a lot of viewers connected with it, however, that well was kind of poisoned even before the show premiered because of bad publicity.

    I don't want to seem like I'm letting Hollywood off the hook either, or like I'm pro industry versus animals. I stopped watching Whale Wars after the first episode because I wanted them to sink the whaling ships. Full stop. If you're going to be wanted, if you're going to have authorities chasing you, if you're going to be a "pirate" be a bloody pirate, take those whalers out or give them no alternative but to return to port or die.

    I know full well that without oversight by a third party there would be gross violations of morality with regards to animal welfare in film production just like there is in every animal-based industry. No group of people can be trusted to self-govern when large amounts of money are involved. Especially not when they can make or keep more simply by being lazy or cruel.

  • Well a great game came out of the Lemmings myth, so there.

  • Thanks, I have Luck in my "to be watched"pile. But that pile has now grown to several thousand dvd's! but I managed to find it ... Looks like every hour is magic hour for Michael Mann, no wonder the budget was so high!