In class, we talked about several different environmental movies that were discussed in our book. One type of environmental movie is when animals star as humans, such as in Finding Nemo (2003), Bambi (1942), and Antz (1998) just to name a few. However, these movies aren’t really about the animals in them. In these type of movies, the animals are basically humans. Sometimes these movies can have negative impacts on the environment and the animals that star in them though. After Finding Nemo came out in 2003, Clownfish sales increased by 40% and according to the Saving Nemo Conservation Fund, more than 1 million Clownfish are taken from reefs for home aquariums each year. This became a big concern for many animal rights activists and conservationists when Finding Dory (2016) came out earlier this year. Unlike Clownfish, Blue Tangs (a.k.a. Dory) are unable to be bred in captivity. This would devastate the Blue Tang populations even more so than what happened to the Clownfish because all Blue Tangs found in aquariums were taken from the ocean. In some areas, Clownfish are going extinct from over-collection and coral bleaching as well and are close to being endangered. Clownfish breed easily in nurseries however, so it is much easier to increase their population again, unlike the Blue Tangs.
While movies like this are entertaining and fun to watch, you shouldn’t immediately go out and buy a Clownfish or Blue Tang after for your kid because that could spell disaster for the species. The problem with many “nature” movies is that they support the dominant social paradigm that humans are superior to the rest of creation and are necessary to save, manage, or study the natural world. These movies also often put an unrealistic picture of nature in people’s minds. Anthropologist Colin Turnbull found that many American tourists are actually dissappointed by their African safaris becuase they have something like The Lion King (1994) more in mind of what it will be like. Many people just need to realize that the “nature” they see in movies is not the way it is in real life.