Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I Am An Animal Documentary

I recorded a documentary months ago on HBO...and just got around to watching it yesterday while I was home and off work. The documentary is called, I Am An Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA.

So, I am going to share some of my thoughts on this documentary....and in full disclosure, I am a vegetarian and a pretty radical one at that. I have been a vegetarian 100% since sometime in 2001...and don't see myself eating meat ever again in my life. It's a choice I made first for health reasons (even though I have seen some of the most unhealthy vegetarians in my life...) and then became a vegetarian for social/political reasons. I'm not vegan...I eat cheese and eggs (only cage free/free range eggs). I don't wear leather, etc.

Now, I consider this my own personal opinion...and I don't feel the need to put my beliefs about eating meat onto other people. I think everyone has to make their own choice...and if someone else chooses to eat meat, that doesn't offend or bother me. I hate the smell of meat...the idea of the BBQ smell makes me nauseas. But, I don't think my beliefs need to be your beliefs.

Okay...so about the documentary. It's about the PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and their foundress, Ingrid Newkirk. First off, it's not a documentary for the faint of heart. I was watching it while I was working out on the elliptical...and numerous times I had to look away. They show a lot of horrible images of things that are done to animals. Newkirk said she believes it is the most effective way to truly effect people. Some of the images were heartbreaking to me.

I admire Newkirk's passion about something she believes in...I truly do. I think many people have beliefs, but when you actually ask them to do something about their beliefs, they fall short. It is either too hard...or it risks too much, etc. Newkirk felt animal rights was important, so she gives everything to it and I admite that dedication and passion and "stick-with-it" attitude.

However, I also believe she is insane or in some way mentally ill. I think in the end, she hurts the movement. She says openly in the documentary that she has an anger button and when it is pushed...she reacts strongly and often without thinking. I don't think that is someone who should be in charge of such a political charged movement as PETA. She goes over the line and therefore makes a mockery of what she is actually trying to accomplish. I would never join PETA...never again...I did once and realized that I supported their ideas, but not their actions. Newkirk says that the crazy tactics need to be used because it is the only thing that works...she says that breaking into someone's store and throwing fake blood on all the clothes will animal products has worked...has gotten designers to work with them, etc. Maybe it worked, but does the end justify the means. If you think all animals should be treated humanly...don't forget that humans are animals too.

The documentary also showed a lot of undercover investigating that the organization does. They showed how their workers will get employed in the chicken/turkey/beef factories...or the research facilities...and then record what they see. PETA them will bring it to the press...and report anything that breaks the law or is cruel to animals. I think that is great work because so many times...these industries go unchecked. If you ever wanna know what can or more likely is in your beef...go read Fast Food Nation. If you'd prefer to not know, so you can still order the Big Mac and swallow it down...don't read it. I think it is important that as consumers...we know what is going on.

However, because PETA does all this showboat/crazy antics...who is going to believe what they say? When people see an expose from PETA, they think it is another ploy or trick. I know that I don't take what they have to say as face value...because they play too many tricks. So, I think that Newkirk might get more media attention with her antics, but it isn't necessarily a good thing.

And my last pet peeve (pun intended) about the organization...is one of the celeb spokespeople. Pamela Anderson is one of the people who speaks out on PETA's behalf...A LOT. She's in the documentary. I have seen her all over the internet...I've her in print ads and what not. She says she is a huge supporter or PETA and all they do. Hmm, really? Anyone know why I might think this is a problem? Well...Pamela Anderson has been clear and open with everyone in America about how often she has had breast implant surgery. She did it a few times earlier in her career...and then she took them out...and then a little over a year later, she put them back in. Do we really think that there wasn't a bit of animal research that went into making sure that breast implants were safe for humans??? Of course it was researched on animals. So, Pamela Anderson walks around saying how great PETA is...and PETA champions her as a sponsor, but at the same time...she is carrying around breast implants that she has had put in numerous times. It's such a hypocritical thing to me...and we know how I feel about hypocrits. And, I am more disappointed in PETA than I am in Pamela. PETA basically says that if you don't follow them 100%...you are the enemy, but they accept Pamela Anderson as one of their champions. Nope, sorry...don't think so. I know she gets good press...and people flock to her ads where she is wearing next to nothing, but well...what's more important...the movements integrity or having a flashy, pretty face???

I thought the documentary was interesting...and brought up a lot of things for me to think about. It confirmed for me why I am a vegetarian and why it is important for me personally, but it also brought up why for many reasons, I don't stand behind organizations like PETA.

Alright...I am off my veggie soapbox...for now!

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