Steven Spielberg’s new movie The Fabelmans is already receiving backlash from animal rights activists due to the appearance of a real monkey in a few scenes.
The Fabelmans, which is loosely based on Spielberg’s own life, is set for release in November in the US and in January in the UK. It’s a “Hollywood-ized version of the truth,” writes Slash Film.
In the trailer for the movie, a monkey can be seen playing and climbing over people.
The monkey belongs to Michelle Williams’ character, the mother of protagonist Sammy Fabelman. When asked why she has the animal in her possession, she simply says: “I needed a laugh.”
But animal rights activists state they are “not laughing” about the decision to cast a real monkey in the film.
An ‘endorsement’ of the cruel animal training industry
Debbie Metzler, a primatologist and director of captive animal welfare for PETA, criticized Spielberg, claiming that he has already proven that he can use computer-generated creatures in previous movies.
His 1982 classic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, for example, depicts a “lovable alien,” Metzler says. The original Jurassic Park, released in 1993, and its 1997 sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park feature “herds of realistic computer-generated dinosaurs,” she adds.
“So what’s his excuse for dragging a real monkey onto a film set in 2022?,” questions Metzler.
She continues: “This monkey scene is an endorsement of the cruel animal-training industry and an advertisement for the seedy wildlife ‘pet’ trade.”
PETA notes that animals used on film sets, like monkeys, are often abused so that they will perform on cue. Harsh training techniques include things like food deprivation, for example. They are also often separated from their mothers at a young age.
Depicting wild animals as pets on screen could also promote and encourage a harmful trade. According to Born Free, primates have complex care requirements that are difficult to fulfill within private ownership. They are also frequently kept in small cages in pet shops, and staff are often not educated on their unique needs.
Metzler urged for the monkey scene to be cut from Spielbergs’ new film. She said: “PETA is calling on Spielberg to live up to his legacy as an industry leader by leaving this scene on the cutting room floor.”