Cruelty or culture? Jakarta's performing masked monkeys

Cruelty or culture? Jakarta's performing masked monkeys

Different media have different perspectives on the ethics of Indonesia's masked monkey entertainers

If you ever wanted an example of the West's sensationalist, setimentalized, ignorant, hypocritical, shock horror approach to reporting stories of animal treatment in Asia, look no further than the British tabloid press. 

"Shocking truth of how monkeys are tortured for 'entertainment' in Indonesia."

That's the headline from, the online version of Britain's daily newspaper The Mirror for a story about Jakarta's primate street performers. 

Jakarta masked monkeysThe Mirror's article leads with a provocative image of a chained monkey. The story details in highly emotive language how monkeys are "tortured," "starved" and chained up while being trained to perform in the city's streets to earn cash for their owners. 

Other phrases you'll find dotted around the article like sprays of spit from a beery meeting of Mirror hacks include "shocking images," "torment" and "sickening methods." 

Consider the big picture, please

Now compare this to the video here from Al Jazeera English.

The report never shies away from the fact that life is indeed a tough ask for these hapless macaques. But unlike The Mirror's one-eyed vision, Al Jazeera considers the wider picture too. 

"Welcome to the masked monkey show -- horror to some, fun to others," the voiceover states. 

It goes on to describe how "monkey master" has been a profession in Jakarta for many decades, that the locals there enjoy the shows, are happy that the monkey masters are earning an honest living and that the monkey masters themselves would gladly give up this work if they could find other jobs. 

It is perhaps as clear an example as you could find of a piece of journalism versus a piece of sensation. 

Mind you, this is the newspaper that, in the same February 2 edition, thought Buddy Holly died in a car crash and confused Randy Jackson of "American Idol" with Randy Jackson, brother of Michael

What do you think? Is this animal abuse or is this an acceptable way for poor Jakartans to earn a living? Let us know in the comments below