2009 was inarguably a banner year for animals in terms of the prominent coverage that the film and news media industries gave to the topic of their general welfare. It was practically impossible to turn on a television, flip through a newspaper, surf the internet or step into a theater without seeing some sort acknowledgement of their daily plight, whether within the confines of factory farms, out on the feedlots or in shrouded coves. More importantly, this awareness permeated into our mainstream consciousness, reaching audiences that in the past may have not been dialed into the animal rights awareness radar.
Each year, the Humane Society of the United States sponsors the Genesis Awards, a ceremony that acknowledges print media as well as small and large screen efforts to spread awareness and compassion toward animals. As the producer of the Genesis Awards and senior director of The HSUS notes, “The news and entertainment media covered a wide range of animal issues in 2009, including dog rescue, factory farming, and chimps in research, but The Cove, which earned its director Louis Psihoyos a DGA Award, is proof that even a tough animal issue like Japan’s dolphin slaughter can resonate with audiences when it’s the basis of thrilling, cinematic storytelling.”
Among the top animal-related contenders of their upcoming awards show (some of which also happen to be Oscar-nominees) are…
1. Disney Pixar’s “Up” — an animated tale (with animal protection issues) featuring voiceovers by the likes of Christopher Plummer and Ed Asner.
2. Robert Kenner’s “Food, Inc.” – a slap-in-the-face expose of our altogether unsustainable food system.
3. Rupert Murray’s “End of the Line” – an eye-opening documentary exploring the environmental consequences of our global culture’s penchant for overfishing.
4. Overture/Smokehouse’s “The Men Who Stare at Goats” – about a secret military unit of highly trained psychic spies designed to end war as we know it. They end up freeing the goats that they were initially killing with their collective staring prowess.
5. DreamWorks/Nickelodeon’s “Hotel For Dogs” – a tale of two siblings who risk everything to create a safe haven for shelter dogs.
6. Talk show host Ellen Degeneres’ chat with “Eating Animals” author Jonathan Safran Foer.
7. An episode of the television show “Monk”, entitled “Mr. Monk and the Dog”, in which Monk reluctantly adopts a missing woman’s dog and becomes even closer to it as he realizes how intuitive it really is about the whereabouts of his former owner.
8. An episode of the television show “Bones”, entitled “The Tough Man in the Tender Chicken”, in which the remains of a chicken farmer/animal rights activist (who was slated to inherit a chicken factory) are assessed by Brennan and Booth.
9. The infamous South Park episode, entitled “Whale Whores,” in which Stan tries to prevent Japanese people from killing the world’s dolphins and whales.
The upcoming Genesis Awards ceremony is slated to occur on Saturday, March 20, 2010, at California’s Beverly Hilton.