Oblivious Basterds: Artists’ Statement

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By Sam Gouldthorpe

Selecting a poster for my topic was extremely hard. I wanted to find one that I could make somewhat of an ironic statement about the hypocrisy in the Endangered Species Act. After working with Eric and the rest of my group, I came across Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009) poster, which depicts a figure standing upon a pile of dead bodies. I knew I could make something interesting out of it.

When I began editing the poster in Photoshop, I did not have too many problems because I had prior experience with the program. The real challenge was actually looking for the pictures to put in the poster. I spent hours sifting through images of dead, decaying and dismembered animals, often having to stop and take breaks because it made me so depressed. When I finished with the pile of dead animals and no longer had to look at large images of road kill and half eaten creatures, the hard part was done.

In my image, Dan Ashe, current director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service stands atop a pile of dead animals. The Fish and Wildlife Service is the department that is in charge of enforcing the Endangered Species Act and therefore they are also responsible for punishing those who do not obey it. When an endangered species is found on private land, the landowner can face extreme consequences from the Fish and Wildlife Service and be forced to pay a fine or even move off the land. Because these consequences are so harsh, many landowners participate in a practice called “shooting, shoveling and shutting up” which is when they kill and bury an endangered species, then never tell anyone about it.

This practice is a result of the rules imposed upon landowners by the Endangered Species Act and, many argue, has resulted in more endangered species being secretly murdered and hidden rather than saved. The poster is titled “Oblivious Butchers” because the Fish and Wildlife Service are oblivious to the fact that the strict regulations they place on landowners are causing more endangered species to die, making them the true “butchers” in this case.

The credits feature many organizations that oppose the Endangered Species Act including The Western Energy Alliance, The Heartland Institute and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow along with the politicians who currently lead the fight to retract the Act in like Doc Hastings (Republican from Washington) and Jim Inhofe (Republican from Oklahoma). It also features many directors of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service like Dan Ashe, Rowan Gould, Matt Hogan, etc. as the stars and perpetrators. At the end of the credits it is revealed that the whole film is secretly funded and controlled by large energy companies like Chevron, Exxon Mobil and the Koch Brothers.

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