Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
Last week, on January 23rd, ‘Speciesism: The Movie’ made its Texas premiere at The Magnolia theater in Dallas. The documentary was written, directed and produced by Mark Devries, who was present at the screening.
Walking into the film, I expected an exposé about the way humans treat nonhuman animals, along with a philosophical discussion. I wasn’t wrong, but I also wasn’t expecting much humor. While I had heard that the movie had some humorous moments, I was surprised to find myself (and other attendees) truly laughing out loud several times. Devries himself narrates the documentary, managing to articulate and raise important questions about complex and heavy issues without boring the audience. He made us laugh, without belittling the issues. For those wondering, animal abuse footage was kept to a minimum.
Devries, who was not vegan when he made the documentary, begins by asking questions. These questions beget more questions, fueling a journey of discovery that includes investigations, expert insights, and conversations with everyday citizens. The film ends up challenging an extremely under-recognized form of oppression ingrained in our society (and the implications, as such)–that is, the conventional, anthropocentric notion that animals hold no value beyond human use.
I appreciated Devries’ rational approach and inquisitive nature, which encouraged viewers to think for themselves. Also, I really would have liked to see more appearances from women and vegans of color and their perspectives on speciesism and other forms of oppression. However, as a conversation starter, ‘Speciesism: The Movie’ definitely has my recommendation. I would love to see a sequel exploring the intersectionality of the issues more in depth.
A philosophical discourse in itself, this is an approachable and stimulating film that serves as a compelling start to a worthwhile conversation we ought to be having about how we treat nonhuman animals, and what that says about us. I gave the movie a standing ovation, as did the other attendees who filled up the whole theater. Regardless of whether or not you are vegan, this is a must-see for anyone interested in animals, philosophy, the environment, human health, systems of oppression, posthumanist theory, or bio-politics.
For those who have seen the film…
If you’re interested in the film’s topics, the movie’s site has some post-viewing recommendations. Also, here are some of my personal recommendations about related topics (for watching and reading):
- to watch // Thoughts From an Asian American Vegan / Forks Over Knives / Earthlings (graphic) / Sharkwater / Blackfish / Racist + Speciesist Vegans?!
- to read // The Animals Reader / The World Peace Diet / Eating Animals / The Sexual Politics of Meat / Veganism and Mi’kmaq Legends: Feminist Natives Do Eat Tofu / Vegans Against PETA blog (I love this blog 110%)
- on my to-do list // Sistah Vegan: Food, Identity, Health, and Society: Black Female Vegans Speak / The Milk Documentary / Animal Rites: American Culture, the Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory / Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self
Please let me know your thoughts if you have read or watched any of the above, and if you have recommendations.
Also, please see the related articles below for more material relevant to these issues! There’s so much to discuss and read about, so I simply had to include more related articles. :)
PSA (for UT Arlington students):
The film’s philosophical points were reminiscent of class discussions from the animal studies literature course I took in 2012, with Dr. Stacy Alaimo at UTA (possibly my favorite literature course ever–take it if you can). Through examining and discussing the works of philosophers and thinkers like Nussbaum, Bentham, Montaigne, and Derrida, the class held regular discourses about the representation of animals in human culture and the ethical implications of our widespread mistreatment of other species. ‘Speciesism: The Movie’ would have fit the curriculum very well. Those of you who have taken Dr. Alaimo’s class, I highly recommend this documentary.
Related articles (check these out!):
- ‘Never Be Silent’ and the Packaging of Neoliberal Whiteness: On Trayvon Martin, PETA, and Being a Black Critical Race Researcher in White Spaces (sistahvegan.com)
- The Biotic Woman: Vegans of Color (bitchmagazine.com)
- Vegan Women of Color Break New Ground (vegnews.com)
- Redefined Palate: Sistah Vegan Project’s Breeze Harper Dishes on Mindful Eating (civileats.com)
Did you see Speciesism: The Movie? What did you think of it? Please share your comments below!