Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Silence of the Lambs

by Tracy Kiely

Question of the week: "Have you ever killed an animal in your stories? Would you?"

Before I answer this week’s question, I thought I would first provide you with a little background about me:
* In 1976, I was deeply troubled by society’s persistent refusal to let a sweet bunny eat a bowl of his favorite cereal. To me the phrase, “Silly, Rabbit! Trix are for kids!” highlighted a serious disconnect in our society – one that held that rabbits were fine for entertainment purposes, but were not worthy to eat our sugary, over processed-cereal. I balked at such discrimination. I was eight, damnit, and I wasn’t going to let this injustice stand. A national debate ensued, and I gladly joined the fight. With a determination not to be seen again for many years, I dutifully saved my allowance and bought up as many boxes of the cereal as I could. I then proudly checked off the ‘Let The Rabbit Eat The Cereal’ voter’s box on the box top and mailed them to the corporate bigwigs at General Mills, who no doubt were overjoyed to see the nation's youth take an interest in civil rights.

No Cereal! No Justice!

* I have never seen the movie Bambi. Although My Cousin Vinny came out years after this decision, it still captures the governing sentiment behind it.

            * I have never, nor will I ever, see Old Yeller.  Yes, it's a classic. However:

* I have never seen the movie The Lion King. This was more due to the fact that I was newly married and was more likely to spend my money to see Reality Bites or Pulp Fiction.  That, and my husband refused to see a movie in which we were the only patrons whose shoulders were visible above the seat backs. But, it was also around this time that I noticed a disturbing pattern in Disney movies: the mother always seemed to die within seconds of the opening scene. Now, I know that most of Disney’s movies are based on Hans Christian Anderson's Fairy tales which in turn are based on Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which in turn were based on even darker versions of those classic tales. For instance, in the original Sleeping Beauty, the charming prince does more than lay a kiss on her. In fact, she has two children by him while still asleep. It is only when one of her children sucks the poisoned pricker from her finger that she awakens. 
Now, that kind of WTF moment makes The Hangover seem tame.
The mortality rate of women dying in childbirth was horrific in the 1700s, which is why there are so many references to cruel stepmothers in popular fiction. The Dad had to marry again to get someone to watch the kids, and when there’s barely enough food to go around, a mother is going to feed her kids first. So, that said, I do get where the trend came from – but come on! Do they all have to die? Nemo’s mother didn’t just die, she was ripped apart and eaten!
So, now that you know that about me, I don’t think you’ll have too much trouble guessing that no, I do not kill animals in my books. I wrote about a pissy cat once, but that’s about as far as I’m comfortable taking it. I don’t like reading about animals being hurt, tortured, or killed. It actually makes me queasy.
I read Red Dragon years ago when I was home from college on break. Not only did I not sleep at all that week, but I constantly had to put the book down and go hug my dog. (The killer in the book would first kill the family pet of his victims to prevent any interference.) 
It may sound odd or hypocritical coming from someone who writes about people getting killed, but I can’t stomach the idea of writing about an animal meeting the same fate.

1 comment:

Susan C Shea said...

Laughing! I confess I never gave any thought to the poor rabbit who was denied his sugary, artificially dyed, air-pumped junk cereal. In 1976, I was probably too worried about the American children who were forced to eat it rather than my home made granola.

Good post!