Sadly, this was to be the case for Jollygood, the goat who acted in a TVO commissioned drama ('Hard Rock Medical', filmed in Sudbury, Ontario). His story shows the callous disregard for the animals used in the TV/film entertainment industry, and the need for broad improvements. Jollygood was rescued to come live a happy life here at Piebird Farm Sanctuary, but now you can help us encourage TVO to learn from their behaviour and then set a positive precedent for the industry.
Send an email to TVO:
Email sent to: TVO @tvo -- email@example.com
Lisa de Wilde (CEO of TVO) @lisadewilde -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter O'Brian (chair of TVO) @pbobrian -- email@example.com
Producer/director Derek Diorio firstname.lastname@example.org & Producer Tracy Legault email@example.com
Others you may want to contact: Hard Rock Medical @HardRockTV
NOHFC (who funds the show) @NOHFC AskNOHFC@ontario.ca
What's the line where use becomes abuse? A show crosses well over that line when the animal handler for the production boasts on-set that the animal actor is going to become "a delicious curry" the day after filming wraps. That is how we first heard about Jollygood, many of the cast and crew were deeply troubled when they heard this and shocked by how casually this little goat was to become a casualty of the show. One of the cast members being killed and eaten after filming is horrendous and unimaginably inappropriate. The on-set production manager reached out to us publicly on social media to help. With only a few days to act, adoption was arranged for Jollygood to come live a life of love here at Piebird Farm Sanctuary. Or so we were told...
Without informing us, this decision to facilitate adoption was then reversed by the decision makers of this TVO commissioned show. While we prepared his home here at the sanctuary, the show instead gave the go-ahead for his death. When we got word of this we sent folks down to directly negotiate a rescue with his owner and Jollygood was brought here to a life of safety and security.
Creating a TV drama should not cause real life-or-death drama.
Jollygood was a celebrated character and a significant part of the plot and marketing of the show, yet still was not deemed important enough to receive the most basic element of life: to be allowed to live. Not everyone who is in a television show wants to be an actor. Worse: not everyone who becomes an actor is celebrated for their work -- some, like Jollygood, apparently are to become "a delicious curry."
Watching a baby goat play is one of the most joyful things in this world. The joy of watching Jollygood play here at the sanctuary for the first time was mixed with sadness about how close he came to being needlessly killed. That joy was mixed with the frustration that the TV/film entertainment industry is a repeat offender -- for this show alone, Jollygood was already the second goat cast as a disrespected animal-actor. (continued below photo)
It seems fairly obvious that Jollygood the goat was added into the plot for the lovable factor. This production well understands the magnetic attraction people have for goats. Jollygood was the second goat to be written into the script and all of the promotion for Hard Rock Medical's Season Two celebrates his appearance with headlines like, "the goat is back!"
In fact, long after he would have been killed if we did not intervene, TVO was still posting "The goat is back" and "it's all about the goat!" Using him for promotion without actually respecting his life is to just profit off his misfortune further.
The world loves goats; it is obvious this sentiment is already realized by the production -- but this positive perception would be inverse if the audience knew that in real life the goat was something other than celebrated. Imagine if the dog from your favourite sitcom was afterwards given to a pound to be put down? What if Comet, the Golden Retriever from Full House, was dropped off at the pound and destroyed? Or if Eddie, the Jack Russell terrier from Frasier was killed instead of retiring? Or the dog on Downton Abbey? What if the Taco Bell Chihuahua was killed and became a "delicious taco" after filming? Dogs and cats would never be treated the way TVO wanted to treat Jollygood the goat. (continued below photo)
Animals in entertainment
Most of the tragedy and plight farm animals face is invisible to us all, we're never encouraged to see them as the individuals that they are. So it is that much more upsetting when a goat who becomes a celebrated actor in the lives and livingrooms of many is disregarded so drastically.
Celebrating a life enough to cast them as a character in a TV show is allowing people to make a big connection to that animal. Then not respecting that life enough to allow him to live is a betrayal. It's a bad deal. It's a betrayal to all the people who will fall in love with Jollygood through the screen, and of course it is a deep betrayal to Jollygood himself. It reinforces the devaluation of the individual and it reinforces the false idea that animals are here for us to make use of them, whether for eating or for our entertainment.
Our empathy for animals is natural. In addition to exploiting Jollygood, using him while not having any regard for this life also exploits the audience's empathy. Falling in love with him on screen satisfies the audience's capacity for empathy while ignoring the reality of how Jollygood was being exploitated.
The days of exploiting animals are over. The use of animals as actors is very traumatizing for them. You can imagine the stress put upon a baby goat to be taken away from the safety of his mother to the hustle and commotion of a film shoot -- to be taken from a dark barn stall to the confusion of bright lights, cameras and commotion. Any baby needs to be comforted. After arriving at the sanctuary, Jollygood required extensive around the clock care. Eventually he learned to trust again, and now, several months later, he is a happy and very friendly fella.
We invite TVO to reflect on how it is very questionable to take any non-human sentient being and stick them on a TV set. Using animals for acting roles is usually very traumatizing for them because the animal's needs come second to the the timelines of the shoot and the demands of the scene. In Jollygood's case, it was clearly communicated to us that the handler's profits and reputation were more important than his life.
In total, 'Hard Rock Medical' has received $1.7 Million from the province of Ontario (Northern Ontario Heritage Fund) for filming. That's about $100,000 per episode of public funds in addition to the publicly funded nature of TVO. Being publicly supported I hope means the public's concerns will be received.
More photos of Jollygood from his sanctuary home:
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