The examples of animal exploitation, chronicled in the documentary “Earthlings” highlighted speciesism and the senseless killing of animals for humankind’s personal gain. The film was narrated by Joaquin Phoenix and written, produced and directed by Shaun Monson. “Earthlings” relies on emotional response and sympathy from the viewer while challenging individuals to live moral lives. Since we all feel pain and suffering regardless of our species, “Earthlings” sheds a negative light on speciesism and illustrates why we should live vegan lifestyles by exploiting graphic images and clips of animal cruelty.
In the beginning of the film, the narrator tells the audience that we are all equal and live as ‘Earthlings’. The narrator briefly states that no one species interests is more important than another’s. Furthermore, all species interests should be considered equal. “Earthlings” resonates with anyone who has a moral compass. The film is divided into five sections: Pets, Food, Clothing, Entertainment, and Science.
Firstly, ‘pets’ discusses the way animals bred for companionship are treated. It highlights pets being killed by euthanasia and gas because shelters cannot afford to raise pets that are not adopted. Also, ‘pets’ shows graphic images of dogs being shot by their owners, most likely because the owners were no longer satisfied by “man’s best friend.”
Secondly, ‘food’ highlights the actions of butchers in slaughterhouses. ‘Food’ is by far the most graphic section of this entire documentary. Factory farms use unjust and immoral killing practices. Regardless of being kosher, livestock suffers nonetheless. Cows and pigs are sent a damaging blow to their heads by captive bolt guns to desensitize their nerves and are afterward slit by a knife to be bled out alive. I didn’t know this before, but the overall process of killing animals for food is senseless.
Thirdly, the ‘clothing’ section highlights the clothing industry. The clothing industry is hardly ever mentioned in casual conversation, so it was important for a viewer to understand where their clothes are coming from. This segment shows where and how leather goods are made and the price that animals pay for consumers choices. Fur products are also discussed while showing graphic images of animals in pain and having their skin ripped off of their bodies while they were still struggling.
Fourthly, ‘entertainment’ discusses humanity’s choices for personal pleasure. These activities include zoos, circuses, dog racing, horse racing, rodeos, fishing, hunting, and bullfighting. These forms of entertainment put animals lives at risk while humans play puppeteers and other species are our puppets. Whips are a popular tool used in rodeos and for the training of some rather large animals. Sadly, this section shows how humans are exploiting “lesser beings” for capitalistic values.
Finally, ‘science’ dispels the myths about animal testing. Speciesists believe that scientific research tested on animals is justifiable because it helps further humans. Yet, this film demonstrates that the benefits do not outweigh all the losses. The loss of morality is a major factor for said Speciesists. These individuals continuously harm animals without maintaining scientific ethics. The pain and suffering that these animals endure are in fact cruel.
Despite “Earthlings” being a difficult film to watch due to its graphic nature I would recommend it to all individuals. The film was a tough, but necessary pill to swallow. It left me valuing my dog more and analyzing who I am as an individual that owns a “pet.” I know ponder on the idea of another species owning me as a pet. Since, dogs are doomed to this fate, it is my one priority to be a better earthling. I am sure this film would allow other earthlings to feel the same way. Now, I must admit the film is certainly hard to watch, I was disgusted and upset about watching it to begin with, but it was Pandora’s box in a sense. “Earthlings” was a necessary evil that needed to be overcome.
In conclusion, “Earthlings” closes with hard to swallow facts and ideas intended to open our eyes to societies grave injustices. The film concludes that “ignorance is this species best defense,” the statement is a homage to the way humans turn a blind eye to prevent themselves from feeling guilt. One would be shocked to meet a person who wasn’t shocked by the way animals were treated in this film. The raw emotional videography demonstrated in “Earthlings” is the films greatest asset, while the narration seemed rather drab at times. In addition, facts were left out in the film and I would have appreciated an interview or two with some individuals that previously worked in the industries discussed.