...I think this has helped it to be a more memorable experience and will hopefully make people stop and think twice about circuses and cruelty to animals in general.—All India Radio
Since scoring an ARIA nom in 2003, the members of All India Radio have been adding their mesmerizing music to many a soundtrack, including that of the American TV series One Tree Hill, Michael Moore's hit film Sicko, and The Passionate Apprentices on SBS, just to name a few. Now featuring a new lead singer (Leona Prue), the band is back, and its latest release, Fall, is being praised by fans, critics—pretty much anyone with ears. We're especially partial to "Persist," a must-hear song with a must-see video made by award-winning Australian animator Lucy Dyson.
Selected for the 2008 Melbourne International Film Festival, this quirky and poignant video tells the tragic-but-true story of Topsy, an abused and exploited Coney Island circus elephant. Topsy was electrocuted to death in 1903 by Thomas Edison in a cruel media spectacle witnessed by thousands of onlookers and captured on film. The perfect story for the perfect song, we were lucky enough to get the insider take on the video from none other than All India Radio's Martin Kennedy:
What motivated you to make this video?
We needed to make a video for our song "Persist" and felt that the strong emotional impact and cinematic feel of the music should be key elements of the video. I love music videos featuring animals, and Australian animator Lucy Dyson had caught my eye with another animal video she had directed, and I asked if she would be interested in working with us. Lucy suggested using Topsy the elephant as the subject matter, and we loved the idea. She had wanted to use the story for a while and was just waiting for the right project to come along. It was a bold idea, and not the most obvious topic for a music video, but it suits the song perfectly and tells a great (but sad) story.
What do you hope to achieve with this video?
From the band's point of view, we have gained a visually beautiful animated video to promote our song, but it also tells an important story, and hopefully it will reach an audience that might not necessarily have been aware of animal cruelty within circuses. The response to the video has been very good, both from the music industry and from the general public who are touched by the story. It was shown on Australia's popular national music TV show Rage and was an official entrant in the Melbourne International Film Festival. Many people are initially shocked at the subject matter, and it has a very sad ending (quite unusual for a music video!), but I think this has helped it to be a more memorable experience and will hopefully make people stop and think twice about circuses and cruelty to animals in general.
Do you think circuses have changed much since 1903?
Well, in Australia, there are some progressive circuses with no animals at all, and I think in general awareness of animal cruelty is much better, but just the other day we drove past an "old school" circus that had lions and other animals in pens out the back, so it still exists here.
Do you think that people generally don't know enough about what goes on in circuses?
In general, yes, I think that many people are still unaware. Or they are aware of it, but don't really see it as a huge problem—maybe they think that the animals are fed, sheltered and "well looked after." I think it will take more education to help people see through this. I hope that people will realize how strange it is that we feel the need to make animals jump through hoops or walk on two legs dressed in silly clothes just for our entertainment.
You Can Help!
Take it from Topsy, no elephant would ever choose to be in the circus. Circus animals lead miserable lives. Undercover footage of behind-the-scenes training shows trainers who use whips, muzzles, electric prods, and bullhooks to force wild animals to perform.
Say "No" to the circus, because the animal performers can't. You can make a difference just by refusing to buy a ticket to any animal circus.
Want to do even more for our ele-friends? Sign up for PETA's Activist Network to stay informed via e-mail about upcoming circuses in your area, new literature, urgent action alerts, and breaking news.