Speaking as a fan of documentaries, I have a deep appreciation for what has been a sort of renaissance for documentarians. I love documentaries -- their diversity, their adventurousness, the curiosity and fearlessness they exhibit in introducing moviegoers to new worlds and new ways of thinking.
Then I came across a recent New York Times story about a new documentary titled Zoo. The flick chronicles the real-life case of Kenneth Pinyan, a 45-year-old Boeing engineer who died after complications arising from sex with a horse. A native of Washington state, Pinyan died of a perforated colon. 'Nuff said. Or would that be Neigh said?
Zoo's co-writer, Claude Mudede, told the Times that he and collaborator Robinson Devor looked at the case of Pinyan -- whose Internet handle was "Mr. Hands" -- and his horse-humping friends and resolved to "revive their humanity":
"Zoo strives to liberate Mr. Hands from his posthumous fate as tabloid punch line. It allows the friends of the dead man a means for disclosure and dares to find, in their candid accounts of their desires and the hidden worlds where they were fulfilled, something strangely beautiful and even recognizable.
“'It was fascinating that there was a community of close friends, that there were basic human interactions happening alongside things that seemed completely alien,' Mr. Mudede said. Zoo minimizes its freak show aspect by emphasizing the coexistence of the mundane and the bizarre ... What emerges here is a sad, even tender portrait of a group of men who met from time to time at a farm, where they would drink slushy cocktails, watch some television and repair to the barn to have sex with horses."
An endeavor to "revive their humanity," huh? You don't say. Seriously?
Let's not beat around the bush: Pinyan fucked a horse. And if you'll forgive the candidness, the guy died from a perforated colon -- which is to say he didn't merely fuck a horse, he evidently went to the trouble of horseplay foreplay, working Mr. Ed into a libidinous lather for the purpose of then, er, umm ... taking the horse.
My contention is this: Yes, there was obviously a humanity to Kenneth Pinyan. He had a family; he had friends; he likely told a good joke and probably donated to Jerry's Kids.
But, surely, not everyone's humanity necessarily calls for revival. This was animal abuse, after all (there is no evidence the farm fling was consensual). I have not seen Zoo, I will admit, and so I'm relying on the Times story as an accurate representation of the film. But it strikes me that a movie about horse-diddling that strives for "something strangely beautiful and even recognizable" is missing the filmmakers' own humanity.