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Sep 29

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Trophy

Given the generation of Trophy Kids and Trophy Parents, it makes sense to really look hard at the industry that profits from the everyone gets a trophy mentality.

Just kidding. But that would be a sweet documentary, to see the gritty underbelly of that whole area.

Instead Trophy is about hunters and conservationists and animals. You know, the big game that is hard to get and kill nowadays, that you can hang up in your “trophy room.” The animals that if they had antlers? They’d be in Gaston’s room.

And the big business of big game is pretty big. There are conferences for the guns and equipment necessary. There are parts of Africa that sell permits a few times a year to hunt these animals. And perhaps most controversially, there are parts of Africa that breed and take in animals with the intent of having them hunted. Not all of them, but if they sell the rights to an animal for a whole lot of dollars, they can use that money for conservation efforts, to fund saving of the other animals. Now obviously people have a lot of strong feelings about that, having a farm kill these majestic beasts in order to…save the majestic beasts. But as one of them put it, when has an animal gone extinct when it was farmed for a profit?

Oh, we also have a dude with a shit ton of rhinos, who developed a method to remove the tusk “painlessly” from a Rhino. He can saw it off every two years or so, protectin the rhino, and still providing ivory for people who need that shit. Except the ivory trade has been banned, so he has tons of inventory but no way to make a profit, and the only ones who can profit are…yep, poachers.

Trophy
Rhinos are not into bondage.

Trophy doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to talking about an uncomfortable subject. Do you hate the idea of hunters hunting big game? Well, you are going to see some dead big animals in this film. Not only that, you will see some of them alive before they are dead, and literally watch them die by bullets. You will see the aftermath of a poacher attack. You will see people posing with majestic beasts, like Cecil the Lion, but less famous. (And yes, they also talk about that impact on the “industry.” ) So if that really churns your butter, you butter not even get close to this documentary.

With its controversy, I found the documentary to be relatively bias free. It tried to highlight all of the sides of this controversy, by having them speak for themselves with only the occasional statistic popping up on the screen. No narrator to drive the ideas, just a bunch of people who are a part of the business and who hate the business speaking their sides. If you would have asked me off hand last week before I watched this documentary my thoughts on any of this, I can’t even tell you what I thought. Having sweet animals die out suck, but when I was growing up, I always wanted to have a giant stuffed bear in my house, so I could have gone either way.

Trophy takes a good look at an industry that has been relatively out of the spotlight until Cecil the Lion. It is a rich club of people, and some people have motivations that seem genuine and not just profit driven. And everyone on every side agrees poachers suck. It will be interesting to see where this goes in reality over the next few years.

3 out of 4.

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