Former American Idol contestant Kristy Lee Cook debuted her new reality TV show, Goin’ Country, last week. The program depicts her experiences in the music business, while also following her along on various hunting trips.
FoxNews reported her first hunting adventure to be in Wisconsin. The goal: to shoot a black bear. A pheasant hunt is scheduled for Kansas, and a turkey hunt will take place in Missouri. The Goin’ Country website mentions deer hunting will be showcased at some point, as well.
“This is an all new hunting reality show that will get you excited to be a hunter,” says the website.
Cook was quoted in the Fox article as saying, “I’m fighting for my music career and we’re working on that and hunting season is coming up so I’m taking a lot of people out hunting. Both things take the same instincts.”
She would have a hard time telling that to another American Idol alum, Carrie Underwood, who is an outspoken animal advocate and vegetarian – not to mention a much more successful musician.
In an episode of Goin’ Country, Cook says she thinks about music even while hunting. A clip shows her shooting a deer with a scope and rifle tripod. After the killing, the show then jumps to her singing in a nightclub. Oddly enough, immediately following the singing of what seems to be a love ballad, the program shifts right back to a reference to killing more deer.
“I never used to like killing animals until I got out and experienced it. It’s the food chain. Animals are here for us to eat,” Cook has reportedly said.
In Defense of Animals responded to her comments: “Contrary to Kristy Lee’s beliefs, animals are meant to live out their lives in peace, not to be killed for our enjoyment.”
Kristy defended the hunting program by saying, “Given that hunters have done more for American wildlife conservation than any other group in history, I make no apology for being one.”
So people like George Catlin, who back in back in 1832, devised the idea of a national park system, played no role in American conservation? John Muir, who established the Sierra Club in 1892 and advocated vigorously through writings and meeting with people like President Theodore Roosevelt for conservation, didn’t do much? (He also played a large role in getting Yosemite to be recognized as a National Park). And how about those who fought for the legislation passed in 1916, which provided the authority to start conserving lands and was the beginning of our current national park system – which now includes about 84 million acres of land?
Obviously the “hunters do more for conservation” defense is a little shaky. So why ignore the people who actually have done work to conserve nature without killing animals? It could be because hunting is an industry that makes a lot of money from selling guns and gear. In fact, in 2008, hunters spent an estimated $4.8 billion on sporting and hunting-related equipment. So it seems much more likely that these shows exist more to help advertise new hunting equipment — in order to maintain or increase sales profits — than to aid in conservation efforts.
After all, product placement in media is not a new tactic. It has been a stealthy way for companies to promote themselves — so their goods appear as natural elements within the virtual realm created onscreen. Back in the early 1980s, a tobacco company president remarked, “I do feel heartened at the increasing number of occasions when I go to a movie and see a pack of cigarettes in the hands of the leading lady. We must continue to exploit new opportunities to get cigarettes on screen and into the hands of smokers.”
In the case of Goin Country though, it isn’t tobacco that is being promoted, it is hunting equipment and the killing of animals. Reality TV programs are relatively affordable media productions. The equipment is cheap, and these days it isn’t that hard to find personalities from previous reality shows, who are more than willing to hold onto their 15 minutes in the spotlight.
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