No, what should shock everyone is the rapper’s resolution, simply months after Netflix’s blockbuster documentary collection “Tiger King” uncovered the exploitative large cat trade, to make use of dwell tigers and leopards in her video.
Maybe it’s time to reiterate the essential lesson that People ought to have realized after bingeing the horrifying antics of zoo operator Joe Maldonado-Passage (a.okay.a. Joe Unique): These animals should not for human leisure. They don’t belong in music movies. Each time celebrities use large cats or different unique species for self-aggrandizement, they turn out to be complicit within the unethical remedy of animals.
It helps that the massive cats featured in “WAP” have been edited into the video and didn’t truly work together with the artists concerned. So, opposite to what viewers noticed, Cardi B didn’t caress the again of a snarling leopard and featured artist Megan Thee Stallion didn’t do the splits whereas white Bengal tigers prowled behind her. It is a step in the correct course — particularly for Cardi B, who in 2017 borrowed a cheetah from a sultan in Dubai to movie the music video for her breakout hit, “Bodak Yellow.” (She tried to file the video whereas holding the cat on a leash, however after it almost attacked her she settled for rapping subsequent to it whereas the cheetah was chained to a pillar.)
Nonetheless, the presence of those animals is troubling. The place did these animals come from? What sort of handler produced them for the video? How have been they handled after they have been filmed? Animal rights activist Carole Baskin, herself a infamous character from “Tiger King,” has questioned whether or not the video’s producers used “big cat pimps” — the kind of unethical handlers that starve or damage cats to make them stand on cue. (Cardi B’s file label and the video’s director haven’t responded to requests for remark.)
What we do know is that in utilizing footage of those animals, the video perpetuates a tradition that has allowed the mistreatment of massive cats. Put it this manner: What function do these cats serve in music movies? Why do celebrities use them to bolster their picture or intercourse attraction?
The reply, after all, is that these animals exude an influence and exoticism which have captured audiences for hundreds of years. In addition they signify an unobtainable social standing. Large cats, even in captivity, are harmful, and sustaining them is extraordinarily time consuming and costly, as demonstrated by the small armies of overworked laborers on the featured zoos and the truckloads of expired Walmart meat in “Tiger King.” Having the ability to entry the animals speaks to a conspicuous degree of exclusivity and wealth. It doesn’t matter what a proficient artist like Cardi B is doing in her music movies; viewers seeing the 400-pound predator pacing subsequent to her are entranced by the particular person they know they may by no means be.
Such glamorization is on the root of every little thing unsuitable with the massive cat trade. Rich persons are prepared to pay numerous cash to take images with tiger cubs to feed their social media followings. Others, maybe not realizing the work concerned in sustaining large cats, have bought the animals as pets. The end result, because of unfastened federal laws on possession of massive cats, has been the proliferation of breeding and trafficking of those animals. As we speak, there are extra tigers in captivity in the US than there are within the wild.
In too many instances, when large cat cubs outlive their usefulness, they’ve been killed. Others have been shipped off to non-public zoos, the place they usually dwell in cages far too small for his or her wants. At finest, this trade has resulted in unethical remedy; at worse, it’s resulted in animal abuse and loss of life.
What’s wanted is a complete change within the public notion of massive cats. After we see celebrities posing with and dealing with these animals, the right response ought to be repulsion. Some would possibly wince at such a harsh condemnation of a enjoyable music video, however, absent motion from Congress or different regulators, the purpose ought to be to scale back demand for interacting with large cats as a lot as attainable.
Don’t doubt the ability of cultural and financial stress. It’s in the end what satisfied SeaWorld to part out its orca program after the favored “Blackfish” documentary aired. Let’s hope such a motion can do the identical for tigers in captivity, too.