"Save the Cheerleader, save the whales"... Hayden Panettiere, the cute young actress who plays the cheerleader in popular American action drama Heroes recently performed another role: bringing attention to a traditional dolphin hunt in Japan.
In the company of like-minded friends, Panettiere attempted to disrupt the annual dolphin hunt by riding surfboards into the "kill zone" set up by Japanese fisherman. In this they failed, but if their true aim was to bring the world's attention to bear on the dolphin hunt, they succeeded admirably.
Posers... or poseurs?
OK, now step back a little. The popular press has taken this story and has turned it into one long tear-jerker, starring the dripping wet, bikini-clad Panettiere. The images posted here come from England's Daily Mail newspaper, and if you think they're playing up the bikini angle, you're quite right!
The Daily Mail article was sprinkled liberally - no pun intended - with quotes such as these:
The actress... mounted an extraordinary attack on Japanese fisherman during their annual dolphin massacre.
Holding back tears, she (Panettiere) added: "One little baby dolphin stuck his head out and kinda looked at me and the thought that it's no longer with us is really hard to take."
Coming to a cattle ranch near you?
The article closed with what may be the only unbiased statement: Many people in Japan see hunting dolphins as part of the national culture which has lasted for generations.
Now let's look at that last one. Japan's climate and geography is not suited for cattle ranching or pig farming. It is an island nation that has always looked to the sea for protein, as have other traditional cultures... including those of some native American tribes.
What do the Japanese people think of stunts like Panettiere's? Well, how would Americans feel if a group of Japanese show-biz types descended on a Montana feed lot and tried to disrupt cattle processing operations there? What if one of them said "One little baby calf stuck his head out and kinda looked at me and the thought that it's no longer with us is really hard to take."
Just a baby...
So, let's put aside the hand-wringing and look at the scientific facts. The human race is omnivorous, not carnivorous and not herbivorous. The vegetarian branch of the Genus Homo family tree died out millions of years ago. Animal cruelty is certainly to be condemned, and animal rights activists have a point when they oppose barbarous slaughtering practices and "inhuman" living conditions.
What well-meaning Hayden needs to understand, however, is that Main Street and Sesame Street are two different places - one is real, the other is not. And by the way... she'll earn at least a little credibility when she takes her surfboard up to the Bering Sea and tried to disrupt a government-sanctioned whale hunt.
Enlighted? Enraged? This is a controversial issue on many levels and all viewpoints are respected. That includes mine, and Hayden's... and yours! Please use our handy Comments feature to state your opinion, whatever it may be.
Japanese Innovations Writer