But their job may soon be easier if Congress passes a bill proposed by U.S. Representative Elton Gallegly, a California Republican known for his animal-rights legislation. The bill, which has 32 cosponsors, ranging from conservative Republicans to liberal Democrats, would prohibit any profit-making from the films and subject violators to prison terms of up to five years. "This is something so horrible and despicable that it has to end," Gallegly said of films such as "Vicious in Las Vegas" and "Mistress Di: Princess of Death." One web site, perhaps anticipating a crackdown, has already moved on to a new fetish: a woman sitting on a Sony Walkman and a toy car.
It's not just the rich and powerful who have advocates in Congress. So do the small and wiggly, including mice, frogs, lizards, fish and hamsters. And they need them, with products like "crush" videos showing up on the Internet. The videos, which sell for up to $100, show small animals being stomped to death, usually by women wearing high-heeled shoes and boots. Although there are laws against animal cruelty, prosecutors have had trouble winning cases because most of the films don't show the stompers' faces. They also have to prove that the films were made within a three-year statute of limitations.