Five-minute activist videos

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2002:
Crying Shame
The Fur-Bearers
(3727 Renfrew St., Vancouver, B.C., Canada V5M 3L7;
<>), 2001.

Dolphin Hunting in Japan
The Elsa Nature Conservancy
(P.O Box 2, Tukuba-Gakuen P.O., Tukuba, Ibaraki, Japan 305-8691;
<>), 2000.

on Half A Shoe String Budget
Barlieb/Wallace Ltd.
(1680 Minesite Road,
Allentown, PA 18103;
<>), 2001.

Video-making activists who underestimate the potential of the
five-minute video format need to watch more TV news. Nothing gets
five minutes except the weather report, and that comes up only after
viewers in a hurry are presumed to have departed. Virtually every
televised image that ever became engraved in the public consciousness
came in a newsclip of much shorter duration, from the 1937 explosion
of the Hindenberg, which was apparently the first televised
disaster, to the two jets that hit the World Trade Towers on
September 11.
You could take those clips, put the Zapruder film of the
assassination of President John F. Kennedy between them, and still
have time left in a five-minute broadcast to include the 1999 EDS
“Cat Herders” commercial.
Some of the visual images within Crying Shame and Dolphin
Hunting in Japan have comparable impact–and these documentaries are
brief enough that they might even find some donated TV exposure, an
increasingly scarce commodity. More important, they can be aired on
street corners, at conference display tables, and in side rooms in
student union buildings on college campuses, and not lose their
audience long before they are over.
Crying Shame uses authentic trapline footage to illustrate
the fallacies of the U.S. and Canadian government position that
so-called “kill” traps and padded leghold traps are “humane.” No one
will want to watch much of this stuff, but five minutes is
sufficient to make the point that regardless of the type of trap and
species of animal, all trapped animals suffer hideously.
Dolphin Hunting in Japan documents one of the most recent
dolphin captures and massacres at Iki Island, arguing that this might
not occur without the infusion of cash provided by aquariums seeking
specimens for exhibition. The point can be debated, since there is
a market for dolphin meat, but the cruelty of the entire scene is
There are surprises. Like older video of the so-called
“drive fisheries,” this one shows the water surrounding the doomed
dolphins turning red with blood–but the dolphins are no longer
hacked apart on the beach in front of each other. Instead, they beat
each other bloody in attempting to escape hoisting by the tail for
more discreet slaughter ashore. Japanese officials have described
the present procedure as more humane. It isn’t, but it is more like
the slaughter of pigs and cattle.
The most shocking images, however, show the children of Iki
Island, brought to the scene on a field trip. Some delight in the
massacre, but others equally plainly do not want to see it, and try
to look away. One older boy–not the child one would expect to be
most empathic–looks right at the worst of it, but winces with the
machete blows falling on the dying dolphin in front of him. How will
he cope with growing up where this occurs?
Mobile Spay/Neutering on Half A Shoe String Budget is by
contrast the tame and gentle story of how Liz Jones of Peaceable
Kingdom put her Rural Access Neutering Van on the road by renovating
a mobile camper into a mobile clinic, at a fraction of the cost of
buying a ready-made unit. It shows that a determined person can do a
great deal to make a difference, even with quite limited resources.

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