Your Guide to the Reality of Animal Circus

"The academic panel concluded that there appears to be little evidence to demonstrate that the welfare of animals kept in travelling circuses is any better or worse than that of animals kept in other captive environments" - Executive Summary of the DEFRA Circus Working Group 2007

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Friday, 23 December 2011

Rouster's Top 10 Hypocritical Anti-Circus Celebrities (Number 6)

Alec Baldwin


Probably the most famous member of the Baldwin family, Alec Baldwin is an American actor who first found fame as a star of the soap opera “Knots Landing”. Since then he has starred in a number of feature films and won several awards. He was also lampooned in the film “Team America” as the leader of the fictional “Film Actors Guild”, a group of actors with extremely liberal politics.

Why are they anti-circus?

Alec Baldwin is a known political activist and is almost as famous for using his celebrity status to support political issues as he is for acting. However, his most recognizable political role is as an ardent supporter of the world’s second largest animal rights organization, PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Baldwin said in a video he shot with PeTA  that he grew up loving animal acts, but later had his eyes opened to their plight. 

Why is this celebrity a hypocrite?

Baldwin’s unwavering stance for animal rights and PeTA particular are enough to make many think he is a US equivalent of Morrissey. However, he’s been caught out a few times.  Despite claiming to be vegan he has admitted to eating fish. He may say he is opposed to performing animals, but he had no issue taking the pay cheque when he had to work alongside a trained bear in the feature film “The Edge” in 1997. 

Celebrities seem to have a blindspot for the use of trained animals in films, despite the fact that training is often identical to circus training, many of the trainers are often ex or current circus trainers and often many of the animals being used are circus animals. Nevertheless, they cry of ignorance is common and along with a bizarre context issue. This, of course, even if we allowed this it doesn't hold up to the general animal rights stance taken by PeTA and just about any animal rights group that is in the public eye. Since the its earliest predecessors, animal rights have been philosophically opposed to the use of performing animals. Even those who give ground of eating animals or even using them for experimentation, draw the line with performance because they see it as a frivilious and unnecessary excess. Besides, as pointed out in several articles on here by different authors, it pretty much exemplifies what an animal rightist means by exploitation. Baldwin's chosen animal rights group, PeTA has had several high profile campaigns against performing animals. Like most groups, it understands that this is a very profitable venture. Performing animals are in the public eye and their trainers/owners are too much in a minority with too heavier workloads to defend themselves properly (which, of course, is why we founded "Astley's Legacy"). Recently PeTA targeted many stars such as Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey for their work on movies that featured trained animals. Interesting they also happen to be actors that are not known for animal rights sympathies. I wonder if Baldwin got a letter (?)

However, it is not too difficult to dig deep with Baldwin and uncover more blatant hypocrisy. Even if we accept the trained (wild) animals in film-work issue - which the more cynical at heart might coldly justify as a professional decision - Baldwin still doesn't escape Rouster's critique. You see, when not at work, Baldwin is at play. Like many of us, he enjoys a night out. Now what sort of entertainment do you think Alec might enjoy? A vegan festival? Perhaps a visit to a local animal sanctuary or shelter? No, we have very easy to find evidence that Mr Baldwin all these years on (and a few since recording that PeTA video) still seems to enjoy watching a circus. "Surely an all-human one!" I hear you cry. No, he likes to watch "The Big Apple Circus". True, this is not a show that has ever exhibited a big cat act, but it is known for its animal displays, which often includes exotic wild animals, like porcupines.

So, Mr Baldwin sees the show. Perhaps he just couldn't resist watching the human acts and chose to close his eyes to the animal acts - y'know those "demeaning displays" with little dogs riding ponies. Surely an empassioned PeTA patronizing, militant animal rights activist in the public eye like Alec Baldwin wouldn't be seen dead near that sort of spectacle? This picture was posted up 22nd September 2010!

Here's MORE on this particular story (and another photo of a very happy Alec Baldwin), where Janet Charlton comments: Alec Baldwin doesn’t look at all bothered by the fact that this equestrian act from the Big Apple Circus appeared on the Letterman show with him. When he was still married to his animal activist wife Kim Basinger, he didn’t think animals should be used for entertainment and he testified to the city council that the use of carriage horses in the park should be banned. Nowadays, he appears a lot more tolerant.

Astley's Legacy was formed to counter the misinformation and propaganda spread by animal rights activists. As well as fighting the corner for circus animals and their trainers, we are here to promote and celebrate the cultural heritage of circus in general, and especially in the country of its birth - Great Britain. For more information please see our Facebook group 

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