The other day, I saw an ad for a truck on television. Finding it funny, I went looking online to see if I could share it--and to my surprise I found tons of links to people who absolutely hate the commercial, and see it as an example of animal cruelty and the celebration of violence.
First the ad:
Do you think it's a celebration of violence or an example of animal cruelty? Or do you, like me, think it's an over-the-top depiction of a hunter that is clearly intended to be funny? (Whether it seems funny to any particular person will, of course, depend on our individual and unique senses of humor, of course.)
Now, I've seen a few hunters criticizing the ad for being "lame," in the sense that no true outdoorsman really cares if crickets or frogs are making noise when he's camping. That's a fair point: in ancient China and Japan, for instance, cages of crickets kept indoors served as "watchdogs," since they immediately stop chirping if anyone approaches; any decent hunter would probably welcome a cricket or twenty near his campsite, since their effectiveness as an early-warning system when danger is near is hard to beat.
And some advertising types have criticized the commercial for having nothing to do with the product: also a fair complaint, since when I first looked up the commercial I couldn't quite remember which truck it was supposed to be advertising. The one class in radio/television writing I got to take in college taught me that humor ads can be dangerous this way--sometimes they are funny enough or outrageous enough or interesting enough to draw attention, but frequently the attention they draw is not particularly linked to the product, which can be hard to remember in hindsight.
But while I can sympathize with these two criticisms, I find the charge of "animal cruelty" or a celebration of violence to be...a little silly. The man is in the woods with archery equipment, after all. He is likely not there for a little target practice involving trees (though you could probably find environmentalists who would complain about that). He is likely there to hunt. Bow and arrow hunting is not the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel; the hunter has to be somewhat skilled in the sport if he doesn't want to come home empty handed. And most hunters do bring home their kills and use them for food, either for themselves and their families or to share with others. Unless you oppose all use of animal meat for food, it's hard to oppose hunting.
Yet there are some who do, even if they are meat eaters themselves. I'm not sure what it is about hunting that sparks this reaction--but it's there, and I think that most of the people who are calling the rather absurd notion that a hunter could, or would, use his bow and arrow to shoot and kill a cricket chirping some distance away in the dark at night in the woods "animal cruelty" are among that camp.
In the interests of full disclosure, I have never hunted, and would probably be terrible at it, since I strongly dislike camping and many other ruggedly outdoorsy activities. So I am not defending hunting on personal grounds. But I know that hunters have to justify their sporting activities all the time, despite the good benefits hunting can bring about (e.g., control of certain animal populations, increased self-sufficiency, the ability to donate to the hungry, etc.).
So, I'm curious: what are your thoughts about hunting? Does your perception of hunting seem to affect your perspective on this commercial? Or do you like or dislike the commercial for reasons that have nothing to do with hunting?