Are we weeing in the wind?

I had hoped to bring you something slightly more sanguine following my last emotionally charged post – thank you to all who contributed by the way. It is not to be however, and although this is more of a reflection than a rant (it is after all Friday afternoon), it is nevertheless delivered with a slightly heavy heart.

Movie buffs will be pleased to note that Liam Neeson is back on our screen in The Grey, an action thriller that depicts a plane crash from which the survivors find themselves in an Alaskan wilderness. You can feel it coming can’t you? I heard it on Radio 2 and I knew immediately what was coming. The words ‘wilderness’, ‘Alaska’ and ‘thriller’ – with a shot of Hollywood thrown in to spice up the cocktail – mean only one thing: Wolves. Even in this informed age of animal ecology and behaviour; even at a time of heightened sensitivity to media misrepresentation, there’s no way that truth should get in the way of sensationalism. They  just can’t resist it. I’m sure you can guess the story. It’s basically about a group of men being hunted by a pack of hungry wolves (as they do). It’s not really about predator and prey, it’s about good versus evil. It’s also biologically inaccurate and totally misleading.

Ilike Liam Neeson and OK, perhaps I’m over-reacting a tad, perhaps you could argue that it’s only a story, fiction, a piece of light-hearted entertainment and to a degree, I would buy that. But if you speak with the many scientists, researchers and biologists who have spent their lives – some of whom have lost their lives – educating the public about this much-maligned creature, I’m not sure they’d agree. And does this film really do the wolf’s reputation harm? Well I don’t know that for sure but 138,000 Facebook followers for a movie that has only been released a few days, doesn’t bode well for global wolf education. Hate wolves if you want to but at least hate them based on fact not fiction.

For context, the Facebook page campaigning to stop aerial wolf hunting in Alaska has 9,000 followers and I’m sure a good proportion of those are anti- Palin rather than pro-wolf. As a conservationist you can wee as hard and as long as you like but just now, there’s a strong breeze coming the other way.

ps. Both of these wolves were photographed in controlled conditions – before I get accused of misrepresentation!

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9 thoughts on “Are we weeing in the wind?

  1. Hi Pete

    JAWS is an excellent analogy and having watched that film in my teens, the North Sea was never quite as inviting again – these portrayals do have an effect when you know no different.

  2. It is also alledged that during the making of the film, 4 dead wolves were purchased from a trapper – 2 to be used in the film as carcasses and 2 to be eaten to establish the “wilding” of the actors!

    The problem, as I see it, is that the media/film industry in general like to portray wildlife as either cute and cuddly dogs that talk to eachother and live in hotels, or rabid predators that want to eat people.

    There is no room in Hollywood, it seems, for conservation messages.

  3. Quite right to rant Peter.

    Personally I blame the tale of Little Red riding hood for the fear people having in these beautiful animals, hell the snake even gets a bad rap in the bible…
    Nice Post

  4. Yes, I agree. I had mis-givings when I saw the trailer for the film. It seems to portray the wolves as hostile and highly likely to attach people. It just supports all those who want to see all wolves killed.

  5. Hollywood what’s it like?

    There are no records of a wolf ever attacking a human being. Quite the contrary, they are very much afraid of homo-sapiens and so they should be. At times we cannot even treat our own species with respect, let alone canines.

  6. You are all so right, as soon as I read Peter’s original post I thought Jaws! Also “When will we ever learn”. There should be a statement or disclaimer either at the end or beginning of these ‘types’ of films. Stating for the ignorant or uneducated (harsh?) that this would never happen in real wild-life. Much the same way that there is an American Humane Society logo chucked in with the credits in some films.

    Great post Peter.

  7. I can only think cynical exploitation of social media by the film company John, “leak” the information, create some controversy, get more people talking about it and maybe some will go and see the film to see what the fuss is all about. I hate being cynical.

    If anyone wants to read something about the wolves’ other problems, btw, I came across this article following a link on the Defenders of Wildlife blog the other day:

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