Assigned Reading: Derek Bousé, “False Intimacy: Close-Ups and Viewer Involvement in Wildlife Films.” Visual Studies 18, no. 2 (October 2003): 123-32.
Discussion Leaders: Ashley, Sonya, Sarah
1. The article states that ‘shots of animals looking into the camera is often discarded and replaced with false point of view shots that appear to show the animals reacting to something other than the camera’. In regards to the editing processes, as well as the presence of the cameraman, do you believe that wildlife films are a form of fiction? Why or why not?
2. After reading about Barbara Carter’s experience of kissing and cuddling a lion, do you believe that wild life/ Disney anthropomorphic films create unrealistic perceptions and expectations of animals that are putting people at risk?
3. The article discusses the way in which film close-ups are the “creative instruments of a mighty visual anthropomorphism.” Spoken narratives throughout the films are also used to make clear what emotions the animal is supposed to be experiencing. Do you believe that these carefully edited and narrated wildlife films are the reason that we as humans have a connection with non-human wild animals – and the reason we sometimes attempt this interaction when seen in the wild? Explain an instance when this has personally happened to you.
4. On page 26 of the article the author mentions that David Attenborough feels that making animals “interesting and beautiful” will ultimately result in viewers of wildlife documentaries feeling “more concerned with wildlife protection”. But what can be said about framing an animal as both interesting and frightening? What are negative and positive implications that this could have on our perception of animals such as sharks? Do you have any other examples from film or wildlife documentaries? [video clip]
5. Do you believe wildlife filmmakers altered our perceptions on wild animals, our understanding of them, and our relationship to them? Has the zoo done this? YouTube videos? Cartoon TV shows and movies? How has it benefited them?