Why are ethical issues central to documentary film making?

In Chapter 2 of the book, the following was written:

The Ethics of Representing Others: The concept of representation is what compels us to ask the question, “Why are ethical issues central to documentary film making?”  This question could also be phrased as, “What do we do with people when we make a documentary?”  How do we treat people we film; what do we owe them as well as our audience?  Should they receive compensation?  Should they have a right to block the inclusion of events that prove incriminating?  Is it all right to have repeat actions or conversations for the sake of the camera?  Does this compromise the integrity of their actions and the film’s claim to represent a reality that exists autonomously from its filming?”  (page 45)

Now, even though the above quote is referring to people and not animals, it still applies to Grizzly Man.  Ethical questions abound in the film, and since its release people have had pretty profound problems with how the filmmaker represented grizzly bears as being (somewhat) harmless creatures that have a moral center that makes room for people (the Grizzly Man) who have (what he thought were) pure intentions as to how to treat these animals.  He thought, literally, that the bears welcomed him as part of their pack; and he believed this in his soul (at least we are supposed to think he did).  But there are questions about that, questions that should have been asked even before the film got funded.

So I want you to write a paper (at least three pages in length, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 pt. font, 1″ margins all around) that addresses all of the questions above.  What are the moral implications of making a documentary that features animals that have no idea what morality is, and what are the implications of making a film that does not care that the animals have no idea what morality is?  The film is obviously about the man, not the bears, even though the man would have us believe that all he cared about were the bears.  Were his intentions selfish?  Why or why not?  This is supposed to be a film about animal activism, but did he go about his activism in a moral way?  Did this film (as was its intent) make you care about the plight of bears more?  Did the filmmaker abuse the bears sense of their own life?  Did he exploit the very animals he was trying to protect?

These are the kinds of questions I want you to address.  Be as creative and as thorough as you can be, and quote the book, quote the film, so that your thesis will be as strong as it needs to be.

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