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What is Responsible for the Decline of Stuntmen in Movies?

Back in the 1970s, stuntmen were all over the place. In fact, if you’re looking to get a movie made, chances are, there will be at least one stunt person there.

Now, the only types of movies that involve absolutely no stunts are probably dramatic movies that involve mostly personal confrontation. But other than that, even for comedies involving any kind of physical slapstick or funny physical action, you can bet there will be a need for stuntmen.

Interestingly enough, as the years wore on, there are less and less stuntmen in movies. What’s going on?

Well, a lot of this has to do with legality. As lawyers got the hang of the legal questions of stunt work, many movie companies started paying bigger and bigger settlements.

As you can well imagine, when word comes out that a film studio has been forced to pay out millions in a judgment or in a settlement, people are going to get their acts together very quickly. In other words, people would tend to be more cautious than warranted.

This has been the typical effect of lawsuits in American society. You would think that when lawyers launch a suit that it would have the effect of basically getting people to get their act together and essentially provide a safer working environment. Well, it turns out that there are unintended consequences, and one of these is an overall reduction in stuntmen and stunt work.

Another unforeseen consequence of this is the emphasis on computer generated images or CGI.

Let’s get one thing clear, a lot of the Marvel movies coming out recently would not have been possible without CGI.

Even if you had an army of stuntmen willing, ready and eager to do the necessary stunts for the latest Marvel comics movie, it’s much cheaper to just animate these actors.

Also, please understand that a lot of action movies, which historically have required most of the services of stuntmen, are switching over to CGI because they feature large panoramic scenes of tons of people engaging in all sorts of action. And the best way to do that, of course, both logistically and financially, is through computer-generated images.

Based on these two factors, it is not surprising to find out that there are less and less stuntmen in the United States.

In fact, it would be surprising, given the current legal climate and the over regulation of many industries across the board, if the film industry used stuntmen at the same volume as the 1970s.

Say whatever you want about the 1970s, but one thing is undeniable. It is definitely part of the golden age of American cinema.

Not only are the stunts real, not only do you see real people engage in real action scenes, but the 1970s also pushed the limit as far as creative tension and creative imagination went. It seemed to have no limits. That’s why we continue to be blessed by the cinematic lessons of the 1970s.

As far as stuntmen, however, it appears that this is going to be a relic of the past. How come? Well, the issue now is not whether computer animation has displaced stuntmen or not. That’s pretty much a done deal. The big issue is whether animation is actually going to replace actors.

If you need proof of this, just look at the Deepfake adult content currently making it through the internet. If people are able to do that with standard animation software and image manipulation tools, what do you think they can do to actual legitimate actors? It’s only a matter of time.

This is why the march of technology and automation is both exhilarating, mind blowing, and very scary at the same time. If you’re an actor or actress, you might not have a job tomorrow. That’s where things are heading.

Another key reason why stuntmen are fast disappearing involves lawyers, lawsuits, and state laws. For the longest time, it was quite hard to get fat judgments against big companies when it comes to personal injury. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying juries weren’t handing out big 7 or even 8 figure judgments.

Instead, the issue involved really egregious or almost exceptional injuries. For example, if someone gets sued for wrongful death, the death involves must be so shocking that the jury won’t have a problem issuing a fat 8 figure judgment. In other words, there must something out of the ordinary with the case.

Well, stuntmen are fast disappearing because most production companies are becoming lawsuit-shy. How come? Well, the law has changed. Now, it seems juries are more likely to hand out fat judgments for injury situations that aren’t as harsh or shocking. We’ve gone from a very high bar of shock and injury to decreasing bars.

In fact, in some jurisdictions as long as the defendant is a big company with ‘deep pockets,’ jurors won’t be shy to give the company what ‘it got coming to it.’ No wonder so many big companies are being considered whipping boys by juries out to ‘right what’s wrong.’ Besides the inherent unfairness behind this trend, this readiness and willingness of many juries to award big judgments has resulted in production companies holding back.

Most of these companies don’t want to screw around with a potentially crippling lawsuit if any of the stuntmen on their payroll suffer what would otherwise be a normal setback. Keep in mind that stunts are inherently dangerous. Seriously.

This should be obvious. Let’s put it this way, when you jump from one train to another while both trains are speeding at 120 miles per hour in opposite directions, you are really putting your life in your own hands. You can quickly lose your life if you make one false move.

Given what could possibly go wrong as action movies switches from one risky action scene to another, more directors are going for CGI effects. After all, when was the last time you heard of an animated ‘actor’ sue the production company of the film they appeared in?

“Air Bud” the Movie: What did you learn about the relationship between dogs and humans?

In “Air Bud” the movie, we get yet another exposition about the relationship between a dog and humans. What I learned from this movie is that it kind of showed me that there is a different way to look at dogs and humans as far as relationships go.

You have to understand that the main reason why dogs are not eaten in Western culture is because of their utility as companions, as well as being rescue dogs. The closer people get to a certain type of animal, the more they’re likely to read into that animal their range of emotions and other so-called human traits.

With this proximity, whether on an intellectual, practical or emotional level, it is no surprise that dogs and cats are near and dear to our hearts. Accordingly, we are shocked, and outraged even, when other cultures don’t share that affinity.

Please understand that in certain cultures like Indonesia or Korea, there is no shortage of people who love dogs. There is no shortage of people who buy doggie diapers, doggie mittens, doggie clothing, and who love their dogs to death.

On the other hand, they also don’t have any reservations with ordering a dog stew the next time they go to a special restaurant that caters to dog eaters and doggie cuisine. How do you bridge the two?

This is the big difference between the dynamic portrayed in “Air Bud” the movie and the rest of the world.

In the rest of the world, there is a firm hierarchy between humans and everything else. And a lot of this hierarchy is essentially hard set. You can have a pet, you can love it to death, but you can also eat your pet’s species.

There’s no dichotomy there. There’s no hypocrisy. There’s no conflict.

In the West, we agonize over this. We try to draw firm lines. But really, when you analyze “Air Bud” the movie, the main reason why dogs are put up on a pedestal is because of their utility. That’s really the bottom line.

But if you talk to the most hardcore animal liberation fanatic, they would tell you that this is unfair. And they have a lot going for their argument because if they’re going to say that if the only reason why you are protecting dogs is because they are useful to you, then the center of your moral universe is essentially the human being.

In other words, it’s all about use value. This is going to be very dangerous because we could easily apply this philosophy to other fellow human beings.

If somebody is, for example, disabled and can only feed themselves through a tube or needs assistance to go on living, what happens then? If utility is the end all and be all determinant of human value and who gets to live or die, then we’re left with a very sticky situation.

According to this line of thinking, there has to be some sort of fixed line as to value. In other words, we value dogs not because they do something for us.

It’s not because they make us smile. It’s not because they wag their tails so hard that it seems that their tails are about to fall off when they see us after a long absence. Instead, the conversation or the analysis is not about us, but actually about the dog itself.

In other words, we’re supposed to apply some sort of universalist morality very similar to the one championed by the famous philosopher Immanuel Kant. A lot of people are excited about this philosophy because this is a counter to the underlying philosophy or underlying attitudes behind “Air Bud” the movie and other feel-good pet movies.

The issue is not utility. The issue is whether there is a firm line between life, protection, and honor and dignity. And the idea is, to a lot of people in the West, that this should be applied across the board.

You should be as outraged when people eat a chicken as you would when somebody eats a puppy. There is really no big difference because they both feel pain. They both have similar nerve systems.

This is a very interesting approach to the ethics of how we should view animals and what animals mean to us.

Of course, this is very sensitive as well because a lot of us are practical in nature. In fact, even though what I just described is a typical Western European and American philosophical trend, please understand that there are countervailing trends as well.

The most countervailing, of course, is the long standing Judeo-Christian idea that human beings were put on this planet to exercise dominion over them. In other words, there is a fixed hierarchy of being.

And this is not just a Christian thing. Remember, the Greek philosopher Plato also had an order of being.

And as much as people like to cry and dispute and rail against some sort of a priori fixed hierarchy of things and how seemingly oppressive, arbitrary and capricious it is, a lot of people believe it.

And a lot of people think that the rest of the world supports that kind of thinking because there is some sort of order, whether we like it or not. According to this view, it’s better to look at the world the way it is, instead of trying to imagine it the way we want it to be.

Interestingly enough, the rise in New Age beliefs have added something to the mix as far as we look at animals go. Whether you’re talking about The Law of Attraction or the whole “name it and claim it’ school of New Age wish fulfillment, a lot of this ‘new thinking’ taking hold of the USA are based on the idea that there is an internal power uniting all people and all creation.

According to this mindset, this unity of origin and power cuts across species line and requires some level of empathy. Sounds Hindu? It is. Expect the way people look at animals to go through a sea change.