It’s a very old tradition. Whenever a movie, or a TV show, had a scene involving a hurt animal, the end-credits included a message stating that no animals were hurt during the shooting of the movie. Never mind if the plot included some person actually hurting the animal, or if the scene just included some animal which was dead or wounded, this disclaimer was shown.
Personally I always found it somewhat ridiculous. It seemed quite natural to me that if a scene showed a horse slipping during a chase, and later on the horse was shot to take it out of its misery, no real horse got its legs broken and no real horse was actually shot. But apparently just because it makes sense to me doesn’t mean it makes sense to all viewers.
At least, I assume these things came about as a result of complaint by actual people who didn’t have a clue. Since getting all those complaints must have scared everyone’s legal departments, they must have felt they had to either put on those disclaimers, or put some of the complainers out of their own misery. And the second option (merit notwithstanding) was not exactly practical, or legal.
Some actually took it in good stride. I remember some TV series in the past using this as a source for jokes, claiming things like that no actual ants and flies were hurt during the filming (or maybe it was that flies were hurt, I’m not so sure). I recall once seeing a disclaimer that no actual unicorns were hurt, as well.
There was also a great joke in the computer adventure game The Secret of Monkey Island. After giving poisoned meat to a bunch of guard dogs (vicious piranha poodles, in this case. Yes, this was a crazy game), a message popped up stating that no animals were hurt during the making of the scene, and that the dogs are not dead but only sleeping. Or something to that effect, it’s been more than a few years since I played the game last.
I’ve gotten used to it, and while notifications that no animals were hurt are still appearing on movie credits, I tend to just ignore them. I assumed almost everybody else tended to just ignore them as well, and that this was just being added as lip service without anyone paying too much attention
I was wrong. Things have escalated. The simple days when some brain-dead people merely required being reassured that no animals were actually hurt are passed. After all, what’s to prevent a studio from actually killing and torturing those poor animals, and then telling everyone they didn’t? People need some protection from those conniving movie studios and lying TV execs. There has to be a way to make sure. Some supporting evidence, or maybe a third party that would monitor all scenes including animals. Someone who would give support to the claims that it’s all really faked… Right?
Wrong. Err… right.
Personally, I was very very surprised to find this out. But here I was, taking a few extra seconds after this episode of House ended, and what do I see on the screen? A statement letting me know that no animal was harmed during the making of the episode (I’m not sure if they were referring to the few very quick seconds that were supposed to involve cockfights, or to the few very quick seconds showing a dead rat in a mousetrap). But this time with a twist. This is not just asserted by the studio, no.
The scenes were monitored by a third party. By no less than the American Humane Association. I think that these people have way too much time on their hands if they can do that. Seriously so. Does anyone really think it’s a good idea to spend time and money on this? To have someone monitor dead rats to make sure they’re not really rats, or not really dead? Or to have someone monitor a few chickens, to make sure they don’t get any actual chance to peck each other for a moment?
I think they, or rather whoever think these functions of them are necessary, should have some sense talked into them. Or knocked into them. Or maybe just to be put out of their misery. It would be the humane thing to do, after all. Just as long as no animals (no other animals, anyway, but let’s not go into the whole evolution issue now) are harmed in the process.