People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a.k.a. PETA, is taking precautions to ensure that Tim Burton makes an ethically sound live-action Dumbo. Well, they’re asking nicely at least. The organization, via senior vice-president Lisa Lange, sent the director an open letter asking him to tweak the Disney classic so that the young elephant and his mom enjoy a legitimately happy ending, sans circus life.
The letter starts out with some brownnosing:
Greetings from PETA’s Animals in Film and Television Division. We understand that you’ll be directing Dumbo, and if Alice in Wonderland, Frankenweenie, and Corpse Bride are any indication, the artistry of the computer-generated imagery in this remake is in good hands.
Then there’s an interesting use of the word love:
The reaction to last week’s announcement that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will retire the elephants used in its shows makes it clear that there is a better understanding of and respect for these sensitive, intelligent, and complex animals. We love the original Dumbo because it tells the story of the heartbreaking abuse that elephants in circuses endure, and we hope you will keep this storyline in the new film. A bullhook is a sharp metal weapon used in circuses to control elephants — and it’s the same tool used by elephant trainers in film and television. And just like in the circus, elephants used in film and television don’t perform because they want to. They perform because they’re afraid that they’ll be beaten if they don’t.
And then here’s the formal request:
We’re hopeful that in your adaptation of Dumbo, the young elephant and his mother can have a truly happy ending by living out their lives at a sanctuary instead of continuing to be imprisoned and abused in the entertainment industry.
Burton’s Dumbo will be a mesh of computer-generated effects and real-life actors (so like Enter the Void, but with big-eyed elephants, maybe?), which makes sense, considering the story involves talking animals and a flying elephant. But hey, even if no animals are harmed in the making of the film, it’s the principle of the thing! Burton, it would appear the ball is in your tent.