Tuesday, February 12, 2013

AMC "Immortalizes" its deep contempt for animals

I grew up on a farm in Orange County, which is located in Central Vermont.  Pretty much everyone I knew owned a rifle of some kind and considered deer hunting season to be a kind of extended holiday.  I was no exception, taking NRA-sponsored gun safety courses at the age of fifteen and getting my first weapon before my sixteenth birthday (a .22, which we called a squirrel gun because that's basically all it was good for,  though I did manage to use one to shoot very large raccoon out of a tree.)*

One of my best friends in High School was the son of a very talented taxidermist.  The guy was almost totally blind, which made his art even more impressive.  He would accept almost any animal carcass as a subject, and accept the meat of the animal as part-payment for his services (the guy was also a great cook, and I can still remember the taste of his venison meatloaf.)

I also remember interviewing him many times about his craft; why he did it, what made it special to him, etc.  Again and again he repeated a common theme, which he claimed to share with every other taxidermist on the planet- that at the very core of taxidermy is a simple, solemn respect for the creatures that are being "immortalized."

The moment I saw my very first trailer for AMC's Immortalized, these words came back to me and there was no mystery as to why this rubs me the wrong way.  Hunting is a sport, a tradition with a rich history, a bonding experience with fellow hunters and with nature, and good exercise when you don't perch yourself at the top of a tree and just wait for an unsuspecting victim to wander by.  Taxidermy, at it's best, is an art which captures the majesty of the animals sacrificed in a humane manner.  This show does not celebrate taxidermy at it's best, however.  Not when every ad for it mocks the dead animals, puts them into stupid poses, dresses them in glasses, etc.  I can't believe that any real taxidermist would look at this with anything but disgust.

My friend's dad has been dead for years, so I can't ask him his opinion of this insulting junk.  My guess however is that he would refuse to watch it, and denounce the taxidermists who participate as having fallen from the pure faith in order to score some screen time.  But if you think it's funny to mock dead animals, I guess this is the kind of show for you.  I just think it's really sad, and I can't help but wonder if the creative geniuses who conceived it have ever seen coyotes, wolves, or bears outside of a zoo or could tell us which side of a gun the bullet comes out of.

*that raccoon became a very ugly rug courtesy of my friend's father, and has been in storage for a quarter-century or so, having been packed away around the same time I stopped hunting.  I don't miss it, though I certainly understand its appeal.  This show?  I don't understand its appeal, at ALL.


  1. Glasses on the fox is *so* frathouse, and lightbulbs in place of the hen's and chicks' heads? Disturbing. There are ways to set up the scene that don't involve regressing to the days of beer goggles and hazing or mutilating taxidermied animals. I don't know much at all about taxidermy, but I can definitely understand why a respect for the animal you're working on would be essential.

    Coincidentally, one of my FB friends photographed someone who's going to be on this show and linked to her webpage. I went to take a look at her work and so much of it looks flat and dead and meh. What she does with roadkill, I could not care less, but she's 'immortalized' people's pets, and I feel so bad for the people who made the mistake of going to her.

  2. The discovery of Etsy has dulled any shock I could get from this kind of thing. All I can do is sigh, shake my head, and not watch the show.

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