>>>>Trigger Warning: Graphic Violence To Animals <<<<<
Consider this your last warning before I jump into my review. Don’t be a hero. If you’re disturbed by graphic, non-fictionalized torture, do not read on or click the trailers. Okay?
Call it a propaganda film if you like, but the real brutality depicted in Earthlings (2005) is gripping, intense, and undeniable.
Writer and director: Shaun Monson
Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix with music by Moby
This is an animal rights documentary. You’re wondering how a vegan propaganda film justifies space on this indie horror blog, but I’ll assure you the horrors revealed here are worse than any pulptastic, splatterfest film out there. Because the violence is all true. The images are real. And while this documentary is not perfect and teeters cartoonishly on the edge on self-righteous fervor, there is an undeniable truth in its message. The goal of this film is to disturb you. Watch the trailer and I assure you it will.
Shaun Monson’s unflinching “found-footage” style combined with Joaquin Phoenix’s pleasant, unnerving narration creates a potent reaction. After debating whether or not to include the trailer, I decided to post it for you. But DO NOT WATCH if you don’t think you can handle the sight of a helpless fox, tortured and skinned alive or the boasts of an “animal trainer” who clubs a screaming circus elephant for fun.
“This is horrible but it doesn’t affect me–I don’t do this to animals” is what you’re thinking. But you do. You’re complicit in ways you probably aren’t even aware of. We all are. And that’s what’s so fucking terrifying about this documentary.
The end message wants you to be vegan. And I say, fuck that. Don’t be vegan unless you really, truly want to. Omnivorism isn’t evil. How humans strip other living creatures of dignity and respect by torturing and brutalizing them is. Veganism is just one solution, not THE SOLUTION to lessen animal suffering. You don’t have to be a vegan to boycott Sea World, zoos, and circuses, or not buy products tested on animals. You don’t have to be vegan to take the extra two minutes to grab the certified humane eggs at the grocery store. You don’t have to be vegan to not wear fur. You don’t have to be vegan to support your local farm and butcher, and reject factory farming. You don’t have to be vegan to choose sustainable fisheries over cheaper, mercury-laden seafood from Asia. You don’t have to be vegan to not support fishing that fuels the Thai fishing slave industry. For fuck’s sake activism isn’t an all or nothing exercise!
Where this documentary falls short (as all/most vegan propaganda films do) is providing practical steps for omnivores after delivering its message. Because of that, I can’t give this movie an A. The highest I can rate it is a B. That said, I still encourage you to watch it. Especially if you aren’t aware of any of the issues I previously discussed.
Full disclosure: I had been a vegetarian for ten years prior to watching Earthlings. But after watching it, I became a vegan. So there you go, Mr. Director, Mr. Shaun Monson. Add another “convert” to your roster. As a new vegan, I won’t tell anyone else to follow my path as I became a vegan because I was already attracted to it and had been warming up to the idea for many, many years. Like I said before, you do not have to be a vegan to be a credible ally for animal welfare.
Earthlings isn’t for everyone, although I do think everyone should watch it.