I didn’t watch all of the Oscars this year because I can only take so much of terminally pretty people bending themselves into pretzels to pat themselves on the back. However, as I watched the little of the Oscars I did watch, I found myself thinking of the disclaimer that appears at the end of the closing credits of most modern films: “No animals were harmed in the production of this film.”
Yes sir, very powerful movie people went to very great pains to ensure that any and all cats, dogs, horses, cows, pigs, birds, insects or other assorted critters featured in their movies weren’t mistreated, abused or harmed.
The people in those movies? Well, not so much.
As we’ve painfully been made aware, women and children (and more than a few men) have been sexually assaulted, raped, humiliated and otherwise denied human rights to be allowed to participate in this art form. But I repeat, the dogs, cats, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and other assorted varmints and beasts were safe from harm.
I was once going to write a column about animal rights that began, “A group of activists tripped over 40 homeless people, dodged 100 drug addicts, and ignored the cries of a thousand abused children on their way to an animal rights symposium.” Unfortunately, that was the only sentence I could muster without getting woefully preachy. (The sentence tucks quite nicely into this context, though, doesn’t it?)
However, we’re now told Hollywood has seen the light, and great efforts have been made to ensure that not only are the critters safe, but no one’s getting all rapey and/or harassy with the humans. Which means you might see the following disclaimer right after the one about the animals:
“No humans were harmed in the production of this film. Oh, sure, the director was a jerk sometimes, the producers and the money people were way too obsessed with the budget, and the stars – well – you know what prima donnas they can be. But the suffering was limited to dealing with egos and the terrible catered food. No one had to perform sexual favors to obtain a part in this film. No sacrifices of human rights or human dignity were required to participate. The casting director, director, producers and others involved in casting kept their pants on at all times, and we’re assured the cast was chosen solely on their acting ability. No one got grabby, gropey or icky with the cast or crew. There was no leering, cat-calling, or like lechery and debauchery. No one was bullied, and there weren’t any sexual tensions, (Well, OK, if we’re being perfectly honest, the assistant director told a production assistant she looked good in yoga pants (which, in his defense, she did) and he asked her out. She turned him down, but in accordance with our new ‘no-means-no’ policy, he did not persist, and admittedly, it was kinda awkward, but all involved got over it.) In other, simpler words, our workplace was exactly like every other workplace. In fact, the women were paid a fraction of what the men got, just like everywhere else.” (Hey, we can only deal with one injustice at a time.)
Kidding aside, the sad fact is innocence has been lost, and once it is, it never comes back. Like so many of my generation, a great deal of my frame of reference comes from the movies, and it’s beyond sad that my fondness for this art form is now and forever tainted by the thought that (some of) those works of art may very well have come at the cost of someone’s safety, someone’s dignity, someone’s basic human right.
I used to be in such awe of the filmmaker’s art. Well, I still am. It’s just that I can’t watch a film without wondering now. And as I watched the little of the Oscars I did watch, I couldn’t help but think maybe they should’ve opted to not pat themselves on the back this year in lieu of a nice, sincere tribute (and an even more sincere apology) to everyone who suffered so much to produce those works of art.
Craig Carter is an Ontario resident and can be reached in care of The Argus Observer, 1160 S.W. Fourth St., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of the Argus Observer.