Wednesday, June 18, 2008

30 Days hunter episode? Disappointing.

The good news is that last night's episode of "30 Days" didn't, for the most part, offend me. The show, which put a North Carolina deer hunter in a vegan PETA-activist household in Los Angeles for 30 days, didn't try to shove a lot of egregious hunter stereotypes down my throat.

The bad news is that it left me disappointed.

Here's the recap: Hunter George Snedeker spends a month with this L.A. vegan family, and he really has to live their life: He eats vegan food, works at an animal rescue place and joins the family in protesting fur and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Snedeker arrives in L.A. saying things to the effect that animals exist to feed and serve us, and not really believing that animal abuse happens in homes and factory farms. By the time it's over, he's witnessed animal abuse, rescued a sick calf left out to die and been driven to tears watching a pit bull get euthanized because she didn't have a chance in hell of being adopted.

End result? He cares deeply now about cruelty to animals. And he's still going to hunt deer.

So why am I disappointed? The show didn't really address hunting, and I wanted to see that discussion take place.

Obviously, the family and the activists Snedeker had to hang out with were fairly grossed out by the fact that he is a hunter. But most of the discussion featured in the show dealt with cruelty to animals. Animal cruelty - in the name of factory farms, careless pet ownership and product testing - is not hunting, so it was not at all surprising that a hunter would be upset witnessing animals being treated badly. As Snedeker said, "Nobody wants to see animals suffer, but people want to see them on their plate."

So: PETA opposes killing animals for any reason; hunters support killing animals for meat, fur, etc., and both sides agree cruelty sucks. No surprises here.

Oh sure, I was offended by the woman in charge of the animal rescue place who compared humans' treatment of animals to the Nazis' treatment of Jews. The Nazis sought to exterminate Jews because they viewed Jews as inferior and threatening; humans eat animals because we, like many other species, are omnivores. Far from seeking to exterminate animals, we go to great lengths to ensure their success as a species, whether on farms or in the wild.

But honestly, I also wasn't much impressed with Snedeker's belief going in that animals exist to serve us. I know major religions and post-hunter/gatherer cultures have been beating this into our brains for thousands of years. Personally, though, I just believe that we are all part of nature, and eating the flesh of other animals is how we live. I, as an omnivorous human, can kill and eat a pig, but just as easily, a mountain lion can spot me on a mountain trail, or a shark can spot me in the ocean, and make dinner out of me. It's not mean, it's not cruel, it's not Nazi - it's just life.

So what should we take out of this show? That remains to be seen.

It will be interesting to watch how PETA treats this. Snedeker really came to believe that PETA activists he met were pretty normal people, and he supports the organization's educational approach. But PETA didn't convince him to surrender his bow and rifle and become a vegan, either.

So, to PETA, is Snedeker an OK guy, or still the enemy? Because if he's an OK guy, then all the other hunters out there who also oppose cruelty to animals, and who avoid factory-farmed meat by going out and hunting for our own, we might be OK too. And I haven't heard that message from PETA before.

© Holly A. Heyser 2008


Tom Sorenson said...

I did not watch this, as I have no TV, so forgive me if I'm way off base here....and feel free to correct me. Is this an attempt to link animal cruelty to hunters, then? If the show was to focus on a hunter living with a PETA family, then the show doesn't focus on hunting, but cruelty to animals and PETA, what's left out? Hunting. And replaced with cruelty to animals - so is that the point of the show? Or am I being consiracy guy, now?

Tom Sorenson said...

oops, I meant, "conspiracy".

NorCal Cazadora said...

Honestly, I'm not sure. I didn't detect hunter-hate in the way the show was produced. And perhaps the producers understood that opinions about cruelty was where change would happen, so they focused on that.

There were some snippets about hunting - just no big discussion.

My biggest concern is that non-hunters and non-activists will think it takes a TV show to make hunters understand cruelty sucks.

But on the whole, I don't think this show particularly harmed or helped hunters - I think it's a wash.

Make the logo bigger said...

Yeah, I think it was a wash for the hunters. I’m sure they could’ve found an even more over the top character swilling Bud, burping and waving the flag as their hunter, but I thought he came off well.

Likewise, pretty much all the hunters I know would take great umbrage with how the farm industry deals with the dead animals too.

The Nazi thing though was just too much. It’s almost like the nuclear option in an argument, and she used it I believe, three times?

It’s stuff like that that just reinforces what people think about PETA. If anything, the hunter came off more normal in his views, if not at least more aware of what was going on.

SimplyOutdoors said...

Well I didn't see the show, but I'm glad that overall the hunter was portrayed in a positive manner.

I'm not really sure why they focused completely on animal cruelty, because all of us hunters I believe are against animal suffering, and cruelty.

You do pose a good question at the end of your post though. I wonder if anyone will care to respond. I'm curious to know.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Funny you should mention that - I'm monitoring comments on a PETA blog today for just that. Almost everyone is saluting Snedeker, but not exactly saying, "Awww, it's OK that you still hunt." One commenter has said, "Wait, he's still hunting and eating meat! That's change?"

I'll update here if someone answers the question...

Tom Sorenson said...

I just posted a blog over on my site that poses a similar question - I came across an article in one of my sports magazines about a guy that went bear hunting - and I wonder how the hunting industry, or hunters, come off after reading it. Maybe I read too much into it, but my feeling was that it would have been much more fairly done if they'd used an outdoor wrtier (Like you, Holly!) to write it.