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Old July 27th, 2006, 05:47 AM   #121
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I haven't seen it mentioned here yet, so what about the new TV series 'Meerkat Manor'? The narration anthropomorphizes the actions of wild animals for the sake of entertainment, which works to some extent but leaves me feeling uneasy about the whole thing. I don't feel like I'm gaining an appreciation for Meerkats as a species or nature in general so much as being lured into thinking of the animals portrayed as individuals in a soap opera. The background setting is allegedly a scientific study of these animals, but can that be maintained if the animals are personalized so much? Maybe I'm just used to a drier documentary approach, but what do other people think?

As far as living with bears is concerned, I've camped in the wilds of Alaska and never had an urge to have a close encounter with a grizzly bear. Same goes for moose or caribou or other large animals: I can appreciate them just fine from a distance. If I was hired to do a nature documentary I'd buy telephoto lenses, not move in with the subjects of the film.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 05:58 AM   #122
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Guthormsen

People do dangerous things everyday.

.... The greatest problem is the media and giving any credence to what they portray. . . It bogels my mind that such a vast majority of people do not realize it is not disneyland out there. The jackals do not talk to the lions!!

... animals in these altered environments act differently than those in pristine environments. .... Yes, I know sometimes common sense is not so common. Anyone stupid enough to get close to film a bear and its cubs gets what they deserve and there is one less idiot out there.....

Back to the whiteshark thing. If you are in the wrong environment, or at the wrong place at the wrong time because you do not know the animals biology you will get only what you deserve.

Reminds me of an inuit kid at school in churchill. the polar bears were held up waiting for the ice pack. the principal of the school reminded the kids to stay on grounds and look out for each other. One of the kids, not schooled in the country strayed a couple hundred yards away. Kind of hard on the principal to pick up his head and remaining pieces!! Harder to tell the parents.
Digging into Dale (new Topic?) can reveal a lot ... like my mother's answer to my question at age 13 ... Why did Uncle X die? She said quietly, "Because he ruined his stomach drinking whiskey." I had liked Uncle X because he told me (50+ years ago) there was a book about Aztecs & Incas I could get in the library ... and how to find the library! Anyway, I still don't know what it is to be drunk, have a hangover, feel a buzz from any drug ... wow, I am so ignorant! Get a life marnell, look what you're missing ... according to what, according to whom ... ah, that's where Dale hits the nail on the head, or at least identifies the nail to be hit ... THE MEDIA ... that's easy, Let's all hit the media ... but which media, what media? Embarrassing answer: the media WE decide to look at, read, absorb, consciously or sub-consciously. Whaddya mean subconsciously?

When will 50% of us believe that trillions of dollars, euros, pounds, yen are spent annually on commercials, ads, merchandising, promotions and sitcom accessories to fool/persuade/pressurize/cajole us into thinking that we could be happier (or less unhappy) if we looked like that, wore that gear, talked like that, drove around in that, stuffed our faces with you know what, drank ourselves to heaven with the other, rocked around the clock with that noise, believed the Word, the images, the messages, the spin? ... and then, what about the other 50% ??? Steady on now, you can't have everyone knowing how to see through the trash, the greed, the cunning of those who want us to be stupid, addicted, dependent, CONSUMERS ... oh dear, oh dear, now I've spilled the beans ... fact of the matter is that we are all predators or prey all of the time .. the only difference is that some of us are aware of it some of the time and some of us are unaware ...

Dale's story about the less aware Inuit and my Mam's about Uncle X help us to be more aware ... in all this everyday organised chaos I pay ethics about the same level of attention as etiquette ... the Victorians developed a whole string of ethical sayings (sometimes proverbial) to pass on "education" to the masses ... some of those sayings were quite cunning ... here's one of them, still used by the half-alert ... "Nature abhors a vacuum" ... this was devised to persuade common folk to remove weeds and grow vegetables on every spare yard of soil ... sounds perfectly reasonable, indeed prudent. But look critically and you'll find the ONE word that has been avoided while 2 unfamiliar words [abhors & vacuum] were introduced ... EXPLOIT ... now you don't want the masses to learn that they too are being exploited left right and centre, do you? Not then, and not now ... we're like that ... you just be half-alert, half-aware, half-educated, too busy, too focussed, too dedicated, too sure of yourself and I'll find a way to exploit/prey on you ... if you're too drunk and I didn't sell you the booze well I'll be around to exploit you when you sober up ... disneyland does a bad job well ... it's easier to see that from a distance ... but it's worth it ... a case-study of glitter, glibness, glamour and superficiality ... what more do you want?
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Old July 27th, 2006, 08:17 AM   #123
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I missed the recent Cousteau show, but upon hearing
they rode great whites around like Flipper, I am saddened.

My gut feeling that if Jacques Yves were still alive he would
not have allowed this "ratings booster" to have been filmed.
(Or at least I want to believe that.)
Then again, one never knows where the idea came from
(like the corporate office).
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Old July 27th, 2006, 10:05 AM   #124
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jacques, here's something to consider. what if we had only treadwell's edited footage, which is admittedly amazing and intense, his character issues notwithstanding. instead, we have herzog's interpretation, through the magic of editing, of treadwell's footage.

one difference i see is that cousteau had total control over the output of his footage, treadwell's footage was in someone else's hands entirely. i saw tim's live show, and it's interesting to me how differently he presents live than he does in herzog's interpretation. the medium is so often the message.

i'm no advocate of interfering with the space of wild animals and prefer to give them a wide berth with a strong telephoto. but it seems to be the trend in the most successful recent docs named throughout this thread to get right up in the animal's business in ways which are both disturbing and fascinating at the same time. mostly disturbing, i would say, but there's a strong and unmistakeable voyeuristic pull. it's the same pull that draws me to macro work, to be able to see what is not otherwise visible.

"meerkat manor" sounds quite bizarre....
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Old July 27th, 2006, 11:50 AM   #125
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz
j What if we had only Treadwell's edited footage, which is admittedly amazing and intense, his character issues notwithstanding. .
If Tim could have collected his footage with cameras using nearby bait &
motion control stop/start then I would feel better about it, but he
didn't and those solutions are out of the price point of 'independent producers' like Treadwell. Any fool can make his way to a grizzly
and confront him. That is the scary reality . . . mauled humans and dead
bears. What make it especially intense is the certain knowledge of his
audience that he is in grave danger. That said, Treadwell also took
the easiest/laziest path to get great footage IMO. Kinda like stealing
is an easy way to make great money.

[/QUOTE]
i'm no advocate of interfering with the space of wild animals and prefer to give them a wide berth with a strong telephoto. but it seems to be the trend in the most successful recent docs named throughout this thread to get right up in the animal's business in ways which are both disturbing and fascinating at the same time. [/QUOTE]

And you know what really upsets me Meryem (not you, you're cool :) )?
With each profitable success story more folks will be strongly
influenced to follow a similar strategy . . . the consequences/animals be
damned. Extreme danger = BIG MONEY. Nothing new there, but
the executive producers, who enable films to be made,
may even now start to demand Nat Doc.
filmmakers go this direction in order to secure their funding.
Is that what our art is about?

This 'extreme danger' production method of taking great
personal risk does not raise the artistic bar imo, but lowers
it down past the level of "Jackass".
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Old July 27th, 2006, 12:34 PM   #126
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Has the Big Cat Diary by bbc reached you yet? It should.

Footage from Serengeti of cheetahs + cubs, leopards + cubs & lions + cubs; parents hunting wildebeest, antelope, wild pig, zebra even buffalo to feed themselves and their young. Insights of priority sorting, decoy tricks, team work, protecting the food & the young and 3 incredible clips of a cheetah escaping a lion(I think) by jumping on top of the cameraman's jeep. Did the same trick days later and stayed to pee down on the commentator; another time(having recognised that top of jeep = rock outcrop = overview) dropped a crap which your man saw coming & had the presence of mind to collect mid-air in a tissue (for study purposes I hope). The commentary is sentimental at times with snatches of human morals and emotions being smeared over the cats and little recognition of how much we have lost in denying our evolution ... but no sign I could see of any creature being disadvantaged by wildlife shooting ... the film crew had decided not to intervene in any situation and apparently they didn't ... they did admit to editing out much of the gory bits ...

... what are we having for dinner, after Grace before ...
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Old July 28th, 2006, 10:01 AM   #127
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jacques, you raise another interesting question. what is the difference between riding a great white aroud like Flipper and riding Flipper around like Flipper? besides the being munched part. i guess i'm getting clear that the only reason not to invade the animal's space is because of the getting munched factor. otherwise, it's perfectly ethical to raise animals as movie stars a la "winged migration" --we eat them instead of the other way around, so we can do as we please. might makes right. it's only stupid to get in too close to something which can eat you back.

these are the kinds of things that keep me up at night. you can take the academic out of the academy, but can you really??
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Old July 28th, 2006, 10:50 AM   #128
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I guess you have invited me to take a walk into the deep woods Meryem :)
This is getting into me sharing my own personal views,
and, I know I am but a single/tiny opinion in a very large complex world.

<GULP>

IMO, since every situation is different one has to decide
by referring to the facts of each case. How each of us is
raised, educated and experienced has a great deal to do with
what we 'believe' to be correct, true and beautiful.

Many animals we see on shows are essentially 'actors' in that they
have been raised as pets. Others have been injured and rehabbed
or find themselves born in a zoo. There are a million scenarios and
we could try and go through them one by one, but I would refer
to animals in these situations as "humanized". That means that
without human assistance they would not survive very long in the wild.

Then there are WILD animals. Personally, those are the ones I try to
keep from being humanized.

Flipper was humanized. The great white shark is wild. Treadwell's grizzlies
are wild. When a person's filmmaking effort results in a wild animal
becoming "humanized", especially a large wild predator, that person
has essentially created a dangerous monster.

Tim Treadwell created a dangerous monster. The bear was always
a dangerous animal, but we accept that and allow bears to live (now days).
Monsters we kill. That "killer" bear died in a hail of rampaging human bullets.

The ethics of raising 'wild' birds from the egg to then be imprinted (hijacked)
by a human to serve a purpose OTHER than that normally graced by nature
is still ANOTHER scenario. Again, my one man's opinion is
that this is okay when you are trying to help a species
survive extinction like the California Condor or Whooping Crane.

When you raise wild birds for use in a movie like, "Winged Migration",
I start to get uncomfortable. When you exploit them for the primary
reason of coining dough or personal achievement
(HEY EVERYONE, LOOK WHAT I DID!!!)
I get queasy, and when you have them killed for dramatic effect, I get sick.
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Old July 28th, 2006, 11:01 AM   #129
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the personal views of an emmy-winning animal documentary producer carry a great deal of weight with me, gulps included! (it's one of the great things about dvinfo, that we humble wannabes can be in touch with those who are more accomplished and experienced.)

this is such a topic that is near and dear to me, that it almost makes me want to drop the video camera and go write another dissertation!

i said ALMOST!

thanks for responding to the nudge. i agree that there is something called the WILD which seems intrinsically sacred and worth preserving. but increasingly, i believe preserving it through moving images is desperately complicated, because moving images as we have defined them culturally, are often the opposite of sacred--and are even quite profane. maybe that is TT's real "sin"....
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Old July 30th, 2006, 01:06 AM   #130
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Disturbing

Talk about disturbing:!!!

When I was in Africa I was sick for about a week at a friends ranch. I laid up in a chair and watched a special on an Elephant killing lion pride!!! I was intriqued at first.

I was totally disgusted when the guys filming, at night driving closely with lights on the animals from a land rover, caused a calf to get away from the protection of the adults and the lions killed it like lions do. Most people would not have noticed. Is that for education or sensationalism??

anyone that knows wildlife and lives the outdoor life could easily recognize the guys caused the kill.

To me that is as bad as biologists killing young peregrine falcons to test for ddt back in the early 70's.


Everyone has to draw their own line, but that doesn't mean I have to sanction it by watching their programs which in fact suppports what they do.
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Old July 30th, 2006, 03:44 AM   #131
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I still have a nasal memory of ddt my mother dusted on my bedclothes to control wildlife back in the '40's & 50's ...

Apart from nostril nostalgia, I would like to know how it could have been established that ddt was gradually wiping out raptors without studying the corpses of many of their young to identify that levels of ddt were increasing to danger-point (unlike my childhood experience) as they were being fed with prey that lived in an environment over-sprayed with ddt ...

If anyone thinks I condone shooting wildlife with guns for sport, I don't and I'm impressed by the reversal of culture swallowed by the former colonial powers (notably the Brits) in curbing that old perk of a job in the colonies ..."game shooting" ... now there's a disgusting pre-occupation, whether you're on an elephant or a shooting stick or skulking in a "hide" but I suppose it escapes attention here under the guise of "belonging to a different forum" ... roll on bum steers & side issues at the expense of reality
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Old July 30th, 2006, 11:53 AM   #132
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Guthormsen
To me that is as bad as biologists killing young peregrine falcons to test for ddt back in the early 70's.
Can you explain this statement?
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Old July 30th, 2006, 07:41 PM   #133
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explanation

All I was trying to portray was that what was accomplished could be done with out instigating or causing the death of fine animals.

DDT residues could have been acessed without requiring the death of supposedly endangered species. When I personally questioned them about the practice they said they were willing to kill whatever they felt necessary and would only quit if only 20% of the remaining population left. We got into some heated arguments (the biologists were friends of mine at that). It is all ancient history now and a discussion for some other forum I suppose.

Pretty much everything I do of any importance in my life is based around and with wildlife. It is very important to me and my life style. We (Friends and myself) had a program here where we repelled over cliffs, used a jack hammer to cut hoes into the cliffs to create good nesting habitat which was a limiting factor in falcon populations here. We increased the population from 4 natural nest sites in about 100 miles of river to 22 nest sites.
Of interest we found a natural site with a wild hybrid pair of falcons, a female prairie falcon and a male peregrine falcon. I have pictures of them over the cliff. Pre video time unfortunately.

Point I am making I guess, it is one thing to always take, it is important to give back as well.

sorry for the digression
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Old July 30th, 2006, 09:42 PM   #134
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Quote:
DDT residues could have been acessed without requiring the death of supposedly endangered species. When I personally questioned them about the practice they said they were willing to kill whatever they felt necessary and would only quit if only 20% of the remaining population left. We got into some heated arguments (the biologists were friends of mine at that). It is all ancient history now and a discussion for some other forum I suppose.
The reason why I questioned your statement is that it is really an outrageous claim and I wanted to know if it was true or just apocryphal. I did try to look for information on this for about half an hour and failed to find anything about such a methodology. I just don't see why researchers would resort to such methods when they could just as easily examine nests for unhatched eggs and dead chicks.

I can see this happening *by accident* such as from disturbing nests. But your statement implies they purposely would cull a species they wanted to save just for research.
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Old July 30th, 2006, 11:31 PM   #135
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Keith,

To tell it straight, they collapased downey youngsters lungs. I am not lieing, its just a sad fact of the past, sorry i brought it up. I have been involved in raptor biology for 44 years, during that time you see some sad things happen, fortunately most are by accident. I could tell good and sad stories all night long. things are in fact better today, though we still have to get south america to stop using ddt and its derivitives. I must say, however, and it is true that sense the ban of ddt all bird live has rocketed up in population the last 20 years!!!! While I do not like it, some good did come from some of these less than desirable methods.
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