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Tigers are cuddly and lovable, suggests Annecy festival short

Edited by GreenReaper as of Sat 12 May 2012 - 21:39
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Spare Me (intro), a CGI short film by Morph Information Technologies of New Delhi, India, has been selected for the 2012 Annecy International Animation Film Festival on 4-9 June 2012. The story/press release, in Animation Xpress (Mumbai), 30 April 2012, reads:

Save the Tiger Spare Me short film by Morph Information Technologies Incorporating Gecko Academy of Digital Arts is selected at the 2012 Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France. The story revolves around the tigers who are portrayed as emotional, sad, lovable animals appealing directly to the audiences. Pleading with humans to spare them and stop killing them for carpets and medicines. Such a majestic animal – humiliated and stripped of all dignity – should stir emotions in the hearts of the viewers and inspire them to take action and stop this unwanted slaughter of one of God’s beautiful creatures. The film employs a Monologue – like structure, presenting a series of interviews with tigers about their lives and homes.

Talking to about the idea, Taruna Ummatt, CEO, Morph Information Technologies Gecko Academy of Digital Arts, said that “Curiously enough, the idea came initially from the father of our Chief Creative Officer, Paresh Mehta. Senior Mehta is a retired wildlife photographer who has won five national awards, three of which were in succession to each other.”

The extinction of entire species of animals is unfortunately a truism. To potray this on the bases of ethics and social responsibility, Morph Information Technologies picked up save the tigers issue. They have made three short films on this topic.

“Since the selection committee for Annecy is drawn from various cultural backgrounds this selection is a substance vote of confidence in us as an animation studio, by the international animation community. Secondly since we are the sole selection from production studios in India among 2374 entries from 84 countries, it is a great image builder for our country’s animation industry in general. As professionals, the benefit gained from being critiqued by the leading lights from our line of work is invaluable, since it helps us to understand our craft better, and to continually raise our game.” said Taruna.Gecko tiger

The film has used 3D animation which is a very effective tool for widening audience bases for this issue for two reasons. Firstly it is a usually very appealing medium. Secondly, being culture-agnostic, it helps to communicate with audiences which may otherwise be resistant.

When asked about challenging part in the file Taruna shared, “The lack of any government support and funding issues certainly played a part in affecting Morph’s blood pressure, metaphorically speaking, but these hurdles were cleared using internal resources alone.”

It took ten artists of various specializations, a month to complete this short film. Gecko has also won 2 Assocham EME Awards for Excellence in Media and Entertainment for two consecutive years 2011 and 2012.

I support saving the tigers (there are more in zoos today than in the wild, and tiger poaching is a major problem throughout Southeast Asia), and I am more in favor of computer generated imagery (CGI) animation than a lot of animation purists seem to be, judging by the current reviews for Aardman Animations’ stop-motion feature The Pirates! (Band of Misfits!) which dismiss CGI as cold and impersonal.

But there seems to be something WRONG with presenting real tigers as cute and lovable, “humiliated and stripped of all dignity”, to promote their protection from hunters. For all their "majesty" and rarity, tigers kill people. Period. Tiger preservation should acknowledge this and work with it, not try to sugarcoat it.


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I think it would be more professional to make up your mind if you want to provide a news item or an opinion piece.

Commentaries can be interesting "food for furry thought" if they are well written, but first posting a piece of news, and then just putting "The jury got it all wrong" under it - without any evidence to proove the point, that's neither interesting nor does it make any sense.

And another thing that makes me wonder is, if you think that anthropomorphism is the wrong way to convey sympathy for an animal species ... why are you even here?

I sense that typical furry self-deprecation syndrome that plagues the fandom so badly in the last years.

Well, at the end of the day, you are of course entitled to your opinion. But could you please put it in a separate article the next time? Your opinion is not news. If you want to elaborate on it, make it a proper op-ed article, and it might be worth taken seriously.

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What, do you want a list of people that tigers have killed?

I am all in favor of cute & cuddly tigers in fantasy. I am a big fan of Bill Watterson's Hobbes and A. A. Milne's Tigger. I have read & enjoyed the characters Tiger Melinda in Tim Susman’s “Common and Precious” and Devlin Miski in Kyell Gold’s “Out of Position”. And I still object to portraying real tigers as cute, innocent victims in today’s world. Even if they are – innocent and victims, at least.

Surely, it’s an opinion piece. (Whoops, did I forget to list ‘opinion’ as one of the tags? My bad.) It is my opinion that humans should not anthropomorphize tigers as cute, furry, helpless victims of man’s ruthlessness and greed. I am aware that not everyone shares this opinion. The news item was the hook to hang this opinion on; to make my opinion topical.

It should be possible to both have sympathy for the tigers’ plight, to approve of using anthropomorphism to spread awareness of their plight and support for their preservation, and to feel that presenting the tigers falsely as cute and cuddly, helpless victims is the wrong way to go about it. I concede that it is unlikely that anyone will be misled by “Save the Tiger – Spare Me” into believing that tigers are really cute & cuddly, and that this approach would still probably be more effective than to anthropomorphize them as self-sufficient, tough tiger equivalents of Crocodile Dundee or Indiana Jones, admitting their need for humans’ help in their survival on a partnership basis – one predator to another, rather than as nothing more than helpless victims. But I don’t pretend to like it.

Is this furry self-depreciation? Well, so be it. I still feel that it is WRONG.

Fred Patten

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I think the key issue is of format - the story started as an announcement, and then had opinion tagged on. What I've typically suggested (and should have here) is that such commentary be published concurrently as the first comment.

In some venues, posting a release followed by commentary within the post itself is a popular method of discussion ( and LiveJournal spring to mind). However, this has not been common for Flayrah since its relaunch, and many readers now expect a more strict division between the two.

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Please don't get me wrong, It's not that I'm too stupid to tell facts and opinions apart. But basically doing a full quote of the press release followed up with a once-sentence "Something is wrong about this" without any further rationale, argumentation or other kind of insight is neither a good news report nor a good commentary by all the usual criteria :)

I agree, the opinion part would have been better put in a comment, though. Making it part of the article carries a certain claim of authority ... and I think an editorial opinion should be a little better founded rather being just a statement like "blue is my favourite color" :)

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As it happens, blue is not my favourite colour; it is prominent here to encourage a calm, reflective attitude.

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I'm just adding to the commentary here; there doesn't seem to be a good place to say this anywhere else, but, Green Reaper, you kind of do let in a lot of last paragraph editorializing; Sonious is the only one I regularly recognize doing so, but I sometimes add a jokey finish, myself, such as in the Annie story. I figured that was kind of the "Flayrah inverted pyramid;" important news first, secondary news second, minor editorializing last.

Okay, people without journalism training, "inverted pyramid" is the common news writing style of starting with important news, trailing off to less important news as the story continues. It is designed so that the editor can literally cut the end off the story at any point and still have a perfectly good story (or, since it was invented by war correspondents back in the telegraph days, if the story is cut off by something outside of the editorial process).

Nowadays, the style is kind of out of favor with longer form journalists, since they are freer to add more literary techniques, and feel that they are almost obligated too. However, even though the form creates rather abrupt story ends, the form has been found in studies (at least I was told that in journalism classes) to be rather popular with news readers. It is also a bit freeing for the writer; my Pokemon review is, after the break, in the style (and reviews and opinion are not typically written in inverted pyramid form, or any other type of newstyle, for that matter).

It should also be noted that Flayrah is still an entertainment news site; furry news is rarely hard, and despite that poll about a year ago, when we do run a hard news story, they usually tend to be the first to get "why are you running this story, that's not furry news" type comments. In other words, the rules are a bit less strict.

What I'm saying is Fred's piece is perfectly in keeping with both the editorial decisions of Flayrah and editorial processes of similar sites in general. Cheetah obviously disagrees with Fred's opinion, and whatever, that's nice and all, you can totally argue about that, but, seriously, attacking Fred and Flayrah's credibility for what amounts to two graphs that, according to journalistic tradition, don't actually matter anyway? That's not cool.

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I beg to differ. I'm not attacking - I'm criticising. I told you what I didn't like, I told you why, and I suggested how I think it could have been done better. And isn't it to be expected that people may disagree if you put your opinion on the internet?

Any by the way, on the whole "we're not a real news site anyways, we're just entertainment" thing - if an editor states their opinion without explaining their rationale, I don't find that very entertaining. Just mildly annoying. Guess why I brought this up at all.

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If you disagreed with the opinion of the piece, why did you attack the editorial process of the piece?

For my piece of criticism, never say the phrase "mildly annoying" when you're over a thousand words in. That's "extremely freaking annoying."

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Because I initially only criticised (not attacked) the editorial process, but then Greenreaper wrote that he thought that Fred put his opinion in there because he WANTED to encourage a discussion - and I think it's a pretty interesting topic to discuss.

I used the term when I was "over a thousand words in" because that was a re-iteration of my very first post to get it back into the scope of our discussion.

Seriously, what's your problem, dude? Stop taking it so personally.

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You forgot to mention WHY you feel that "humans should not anthropomophize", so I don't quite get your point. How do you think would not anthropomorphizing tigers in a television PSA help saving them better?

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Maybe so people aren't tempted to keep them as pets?

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Happens with dogs too so I'm not sure what your point is. Dogs shouldn't be kept as pets either?

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At least dogs as a species have been domesticated. Tigers have not. You can have "tame" tigers on an individual basis, but it is still a wild animal.

Thousands of people have kept dogs as pets and lived; show me a man keeping a tiger as a pet and I'll show you one who hasn't been killed by a tiger yet.

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As long as it's not YOU who is at risk, why bother? Really, people do a lot of dangerous things, perfectly being aware of the risk. I think as long as there is no danger to the public, that's not really a valid argument.

Or, trying to get back to the main topic, the habitats of humans and tigers being so close together, is a much more relevant risk to BOTH species than the whole pseudo-ethical "tigers as pets" situation.

The only thing that bothers me is that people try to keep exotic animals as pets without the proper knowlede or resources. The risk is known, and this should be up to them, and not us. Otherwise, you could as well outlaw all other dangerous activities (skydiving, rock climbing, formula one races).

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Keeping a tiger doesn't compare to, say, skydiving, because if the parachute fails, they don't "put it down."

Well, actually, I guess they probably would retire that parachute, but it's not a living thing is my point. Keeping an exotic dangerous pet puts the pet in as much danger as the owner. It's a two for one endangerment deal! Hell, the pet is probably in more danger than the person because of the well known first rule of understanding people.

However, you seem to not realize the first rule of understanding people; people are fucking stupid. A cute tiger is an advertisement for pets because people are fucking stupid; Q.E.D.

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Oh - you just changed the subject. We were talking about how dangerous it is for the humans involved - that's why I came up with the parachuting example. Now you turned the argument around, talking about the danger for the animal. Okay, I'll bite.

In the first place, I think you are generalizing this way too much - and your rationale of "everyone is stupid except myself which entitles me to tell them how stupid they are" is really not very sensible :)

If your logic only works if you make an exception for yourself, then it's plain wrong. Sorry :)

Where I live, there are rather strong restrictions in place, and you'll have to prove you're not "stupid" - which means, you'll have to prove that you have the proper know how.

Also the whole "they are going to be put down" argument is not very stringent in itself, because without people keeping individuals in captivity, these individual wouldn't get to live in the first place - and don't even get me started at the statistics how many individuals get destroyed for purely economic reasons in the most esteemed zoos around the world.

Really, a lot of well-educated amateurs care a lot better for their animals than some professionals do. You can't just say, "they're all stupid". It really depends.

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Sorry, I got into another argument, so a bit late in reply ...

Less I changed the subject than I got dragged into this subject because, you know, I was here and looking for a fight, and then I found the other fight, and it was better.

So how was your Cinco de Mayo? If I'm not talking to a ghost, of course.

Though, uh, if your evidence supporting amateurs is "even the trained professionals get it wrong all the time," uh, are we arguing here?

Also, understanding people includes understanding yourself. Finding the odd contradiction or two in you personal logic is not a disaster.

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Which part of the difference between "some professionals" and "all professionals" do you want me to explain to you? Claiming I said the opposite of what I really said is not a very clever thing to do when the original text is right there for everyone to read :)

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Well, seeing as how I just called every human on the planet stupid, maybe subtle shades of differences is not what I'm aiming at.

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I take back my earlier comment about excepting yourself from stupidity then.

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Pretty much what crossie said up there. If a tiger attacks a person who thought he understood the tiger--or, worse, thought the tiger understood him--the tiger is going to be shot, probably before anyone is able to help the poor owner.

Or, he could be calling for help, a neighbor busts into the house, and in turn is also mauled by a tiger.

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That's true if you say that "keeping a tiger" means keeping it without ANY security measures or proper training. Of course I agree that the case you're describing should be avoided.

But that kind of matter is TOTALLY independant from whether the animal involved is exotic or not. It's a matter of responsibility, and it's true for any kind of potentially dangerous animal, domestic or not - the list of casualities involving dogs has been posted here earlier.

Sure, compared to the average dog, the average tiger has a much higher potential to cause havoc if you don't take the proper precautions. But then, the case you are describing above is a special case.

It's not like everyone keeping exotics is a complete and utter moron. It's not some kind of law of nature that you can't properly care for a tiger unless you're the employee of a zoo.

So, there should definitely be laws or guidelines to define some minimum standards. And there are, in most places over here at least.

What I really don't like is this call for taking away people's freedoms to willingly take risks and responsibilities upon themselves, assuming they're all stupid. I know that's pretty much the american way, "beware, hot coffee may be hot", but that doesn't mean we shouldn't sometimes question it.

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[...] but that doesn't mean we shouldn't sometimes question it.

Fair enough. But that doesn't mean we should remove all the stops.

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Agreed :)

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I don't think so, especially if you also look at the OTHER clips of the campaign, which make very clear that it is desireable to keep human and tiger habitats apart:

Respect my Space -

Really, I see nothing about this whole campaign promoting tigers as pets.

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Reread my comment above. I do think that anthropomorphizing tigers will help better in saving them, and I concede that anthropomorphizing them as cute & cuddly will probably be more effective than anthropomorphizing them as self-sufficient and tough. But in my opinion (and yes, this is an opinion piece), anthropomorphizing them as cute and helpless (1) misrepresents them, and (2, to anthropomorphize them differently) tends to demean them; to strip them of their dignity. I would rather anthropomorphize them on an equal level with humans, not as helpless beings incapable of surviving without our charity.

Fred Patten

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Okay, so it seems you can't have the cake and eat it, too. So - what would you think is better? Effectively supporting the tigers even if that means using a cuddly mascot - or ineffectively supporting the tigers but representing them in an entirely sober way?

By the way, it's a pretty obvious fact that (as a species) they are incapable of surviving without our charity - because the decision wether there will be a natural tiger habitat in the future or not is entirely ours.

These spots lie less to you than the average insurance, food or washing powder advertisement.

So it's not that the claims of the PSA are totally without objectivity. They are merely simplified - which is something you have to do if 30 seconds is all you got to make your point. In india, tigers are often seen as something between vermin and evil maneaters - and these TV spots are trying to compensate the prejudice. I think that's totally legitimate.

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I thought it'd be even more professional to actually write an article. Looking at the word count 73% of this is just a copy-paste of someone else's work. To me that is a bigger issue than any style problems. In any other context this wouldn't be accepted. I'm surprised it was accepted because with the amount of original content it would've been better suited as a link on the newsbytes.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Well, as a matter of fact a large percentage of actual newspaper content is just copy-and-pasted news agency text. Which gets really funny each time someone manages to sneak in a fake, and it gets obvious who printed it without even basic fact-checking. So in that regard, flayrah isn't doing that much worse :) I would even say, since flayrah is more of a news aggregator, that's fine as long as there is also a source link.

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I assume you're talking about things like Reuters articles which I've read online before and then seen the exact same thing printed on paper. That's different because it's a story which is sold (?) to many publishers. Lots of things are syndicated like that, for example Flayrah is syndicated on Furry News Network and In-Fur-Nation is syndicated on Flayrah. In all those cases though the article is properly credited.

This case is closer to plagiarism because Fred is taking credit for the article when nearly 3/4 was actually written by somebody else. The only redeeming feature is that it's made clear that it's a quote but that doesn't make it his work.

Also it's not really a press release but an article from another site, reproduced entirely and, as far as one can tell, without permission. That is almost certainly illegal. The link to their terms of service seems broken though so I can't see what it says.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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I am taking credit only for bringing it to Flayrah's attention. As you note, I credit it entirely to Animation Xpress of Mumbai, on 30 April. I describe it as a story/press release because it is presented as a story by Animation Xpress, but it reads like a press release from Morph Information Technologies reprinted verbatim. And I have had one of my non-Furry book reviews, for "The Spriggan's Mirror" by Lawrence Watt-Evans (well worth reading if you like adventure fantasy), picked up by Reuters.

Fred Patten

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So, seriously, we're discussing plagiarism because Cheetah peed his pants because Fred was "a big meanyhead to the poor, cute little tigers."

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At least I'm staying polite rather than going all cheeky.

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Oh, please, I haven't even told you to die screaming yet, darling.

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Nope. I'm joining in on the criticism of the article.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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wow...reading the comments have been alot more entertaining than the actual article..

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