DawnWatch: Oprah and staff take the vegan challenge, Tuesday 2-1-11

February 1st, 2011 by Kelly Garbato

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch
Date: Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 5:00 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Oprah and staff take the vegan challenge, Tuesday 2/1/11

null

Many of you have already heard the news: we are all setting our DVRs because on Tuesday, February 1, Oprah and 378 of her staffers are taking a one-week vegan challenge. Guests on the show will include the terrific vegan advocate Kathy Freston and anti factory farming author Michael Pollan. Reporter Lisa Ling will give us an inside view of a “beef processing plant” i.e. slaughterhouse.

You can watch a trailer for the upcoming show at tinyurl.com/6fa4azh

You can leave comments on that page in advance or after you have seen it.

The more enthusiastic support Oprah gets the better, so please join the discussion.

And please send the Oprah show a separate note of support where the show take comments (some of which are read on air) at www.oprah.com/ownshow/plug_form.html?plug_id=220

Go to www.oprah.com/tows_listings.html to see when Oprah airs on your local station:

I send thanks to Kathy Freston and about a dozen other wonderful subscribers for making sure we all knew about tomorrow’s show.

Yours and the animals’,
Karen Dawn

(More…)

Share and Enjoy
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Tumblr
  • Print

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Human/Animal = A False Divide

January 16th, 2011 by Kelly Garbato

The Wolfman (2010)

While The Wolfman (2010) is hardly what I’d call an animal-friendly film – or even a good film – I found this exchange between two “gypsy” women (Irish Travellers?), tending to an injured man in the wake of a werewolf attack, rather insightful (if unintentionally so):

Daughter: Once he is bitten by the beast, there is no cure. You should let him die.

Maleva: That would make me a sinner.

Daughter: There is no sin in killing a beast.

Maleva: Is there not?

What of killing a man? Where does one begin and the other end?

Elsewhere in the movie, villagers are shown tying up a moose and using him as “bait” with which to catch the werewolf who had been terrorizing their village (happily, the moose escapes unscathed). Additionally, the traveling gypsy clan owns a “dancing” bear who is initially blamed for the “animal attacks.” While the bear appears to be computer generated, his captivity still makes for depressing viewing. Last but not least, the bulk of the story’s plot involves the hunting of a werewolf, which could quite possibly be construed as a matter of self-defense, as said wolfman primarily preys on his human kin.

Possibly there’s a more nuanced discussion to be had on the animal ethics of The Wolfman; if so, I’m not feeling it. In one word: yawn.

Share and Enjoy
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Tumblr
  • Print

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Sexy hot dogs, killer cats and Crappy Meals: Catching up with The Colbert Report and The Daily Show.

January 6th, 2011 by Kelly Garbato

During my three-month absence from POP!, I have been tragically neglectful in sharing with you all things bestial on two of my favorite faux news shows: The Colbert Report and The Daily Show. (Mostly The Colbert Report. The student has surpassed his teacher my many a comedic mile!)

Case in point: back in September, Stephen brought in some “pretty beer girls” to serve the troops during a special, week-long military appreciation edition of The Colbert Report, culminating in a guest appearance by Vice President Joe Biden as a hot dog vendor:

This was followed the next day by a sexy dude dressed in a hot dog suit, “for the lady troops”:

Naturally, PETA was not pleased:

[Neither was I - that is, when I watched the show many a month later (it aired when I was on vacation in NY) - but I didn't see fit to write a press release about it. It doesn't take a marketing genius to know that the general public will view this as so much opportunistic bandwagon-jumping and/or an "attack" on the troops. YOU MUST SUPPORT THE TROOPS AT ALL COSTS! BY WHICH I MEAN NEVER EVER NEVER QUESTION A MOVE MADE BY THE U.S. MILITARY! Like duh.]

Anyhow, I promise to be better in keeping up with this stuff in the New Year. In this vein, I come bearing two more recent clips:

(More…)

Share and Enjoy
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Tumblr
  • Print

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Milk addictions, Nazi monstrosities & long-suffering canines: Three things about The Strain.

January 4th, 2011 by Kelly Garbato

“Once upon a time,” said Abraham Setrakian’s grandmother, “there was a giant.”

Young Abraham’s eyes brightened, and immediately the cabbage borscht in the wooden bowl got tastier, or at least less garlicky. He was a pale boy, underweight and sickly. His grandmother, intent on fattening him, sat across from him while he ate his soup, entertaining him by spinning him a yarn.

A bubbeh meiseh, a “grandmother’s story.” A fairy tale. A legend.

“He was the son of a Polish nobleman. And his name was Jusef Sardu. Master Sardu stood taller than any other man. Taller than any roof in the village. He had to bow deeply to enter any door. But his great height, it was a burden. A disease of birth, not a blessing. The young man suffered. His muscles lacked the strength to support his long, heavy bones. At times it was a struggle for him just to walk. He used a cane, a tall stick – taller than you – with a silver handle carved into the shape of a wolf’s head, which was the family crest.”

“Yes, Bubbeh?” said Abraham, between spoonfuls.

“This was his lot in life, and it taught him humility, which is a rare thing indeed for a nobleman to possess. He had so much compassion – for the poor, for the hardworking, for the sick. He was especially dear to the children of the village, and his great, deep pockets – the size of turnip sacks – bulged with trinkets and sweets. He had not much of a childhood himself, matching his father’s height at the age of eight, and surpassing him by a head at age nine. His frailty and great size were a secret source of shame to his father. But Master Sardu truly was a gentle giant, and much beloved by his people. It was said of him that Master Sardu looked down on everyone, yet looked down on no one.” (pp. 1-2)

Spoiler warning: minor plot details discussed below.

The Strain (2009)

So begins The Strain, a 2009 vampire novel co-authored by filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy) and novelist Chuck Hogan (Prince of Thieves: A Novel). Set in present-day New York City, the story follows Ephraim Goodweather – an epidemiologist with the CDC – as he races to stop the spread of an virus that essentially hijacks its host body, transforming human to vampire. (Nonhuman animals appear not to be affected, though this doesn’t preclude their consumption by vampires. Spoiler warning: the dog gets it!)

Transmitted via the exchange of bodily fluids (usually in the form of a “brutal” feeding frenzy as opposed to a more sophisticated and sexy neck bite), the virus is as old as the seven vampires – the Ancients – who are spread out among the “Old” and “New” Worlds. Kept under wraps by a tenuous truce between the Ancients for centuries, the virus is about to be unleashed upon humanity by a renegade vampire – the Dark One, Master, Sardu, The Thing – with the help of one especially evil, ambitious and self-involved human. (A billionaire, natch.)

Our hero “Eph” is accompanied by fellow CDC scientist Nora Martinez, along with a rag-tag team of unlikely experts, namely: Vasily Fet, an exterminator working for the City of New York and Abraham Setrakian, an elderly pawnshop owner and Holocaust survivor who has spent much of his life in pursuit of the Dark One.

I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone, so I won’t go any further into plot details than this. One rave featured on the back cover describes it as “Bram Stoker meets Stephen King meets Michael Crichton”; I don’t know about Crichton, but if you’re a fan of Stephen King and/or modern-day vampire stories, you’ll love The Strain. Nor can I offer a comprehensive look at what I’ll call the story’s “animal ethics,” as The Strain is the first part of a trilogy. (I’m still waiting for a copy of The Fall to become available at my public library, and Eternal Night won’t be released for several more months.) I would, however, like to discuss several specific passages and plot details.

(More…)

Share and Enjoy
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Tumblr
  • Print

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

“Changing nature to get the food we eat”: Karen Davis on the Speciesist Indoctrination of Children

January 1st, 2011 by Kelly Garbato

2011-01-01 - 3-2-1 Contact Mags - 0010

A pile of 3-2-1 Contact magazines that I found in my filled-to-overflowing library.
Have a problem, who me?
——————————

In Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An inside look at the modern poultry industry (1996; revised 2009) animal advocate Karen Davis offers an exhaustive and heart-wrenching examination of the “poultry” industry, which is responsible for the exploitation and slaughter of an astounding 10 billion chickens annually (in the U.S. alone; worldwide, 40 billion chickens are raised and killed for their meat and eggs ever year). During her journey from the wild to the farm – and from conception to death – Davis touches upon some of the social and psychological mechanisms that pave the way for these atrocities.

Humans are taught from an early age that the earth’s resources – including other sentient beings – were “put here for our use.” We create a false divide between “us” and “them” by denying our own animal nature: there are “humans” and there are “animals.” We deny our similarities – the ability to feel pain, experience emotions such as love and joy (and sadness and fear), form and nurture fulfilling relationships – while simultaneously looking to our relatively minor but wonderfully diverse differences as an excuse to objectify, enslave and exploit the “other.” Nonhuman animals are largely considered property – “its” – more akin to a tree or tomato plant than a human being. Simply put, we exist in a supremely speciesist and anthropocentric culture – and we indoctrinate each successive generation into accepting this skewed and oppressive worldview.

Pop culture, including books, television, and movies, are central to this indoctrination. For example, Davis singles out two children’s shows for criticism – both of which were staples in my own childhood: Reading Rainbow (1983-2005?) and 3-2-1 Contact (1980–1992) – to demonstrate this process:

Chick hatching projects teach children and teachers that bringing a life into the world is not a grave responsibility with ultimate consequences for the life created. Children’s public television has contributed to this desensitization and to the fallacy that chickens have no natural origin or need for a family life. The Reading Rainbow public television program “Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones,” based on a book by Ruth Heller, shows that other kinds of animals besides chickens lay eggs. However, chickens are the only ones represented in barren surroundings. One heartless scene shows a baby chick struggling out of its egg alone on a bare table, while ugly, insensitive music blares, “I’m breaking out.”

The 3-2-1 Contact show “Pignews: Chickens and Pigs” has aired frequently on children’s public television. Promoting the agribusiness theme of “changing nature to get the food we eat,” it shows hatchery footage of newborn chicks being hurled down stainless steel conveyors, tumbling in revolving sexing carousels, flung down dark holes, and brutally handled by chicken sexers who grab them, toss them, and hold them by one wing while asserting that none of this hurts them at all. These scenes alternate with rapid sequence images of mass-produced fruits and vegetables. Children are brightly told that “farmers are changing how we grow 100 million baby chicks a week, 3 million pounds of tomatoes, 36 billion pounds of potatoes.” Chickens are described against a background of upbeat music as a “monocrop” suited to the “conveyor belt and assembly line, as in a factory.”

Is it any wonder that many people regard chickens as some sort of weird chimerical concoction comprising a vegetable and a machine? (p. 21)

[A full discussion of Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs is well beyond the scope of this blog, but you can read a rather lengthy review I published on V for Vegan.

If the psychology of animal exploitation is a topic that piques your interest, check out Melanie Joy's Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism (2009), which I reviewed here.

Finally, parents in search of animal-friendly entertainment to enjoy with their children will find a friend in VegBooks.]

Share and Enjoy
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Tumblr
  • Print

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead answers with an emphatic “Hells, no!”

December 28th, 2010 by Kelly Garbato

George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead (2009)

Spoiler warning!

Earlier this year, I wrote a brief piece about George A. Romero’s 2007 zombie horror flick Diary of the Dead. While the film did not explicitly address our treatment of nonhuman animals, the ending depicted two hunters tormenting a female zombie for “sport,” her “death” (if, indeed, one can kill the undead) becoming for them a form of entertainment, as opposed to a matter of survival. The narrator’s final words posed a question that I oftentimes ask myself, particularly during monster movies in which the future of humanity’s existence is called into question:

Are we worth saving?

You tell me.

Survival of the Dead is Romero’s 2009 follow-up to Diary of the Dead. While similar in style and tone, I found its ending and implications to be far more disturbing than those of its predecessor.

Without going too much into plot detail – it’s mostly incidental – Survival of the Dead follows a band of ex-military mercenaries (seen briefly in Diary of the Dead) as they escape a U.S. mainland riddled with zombies for a seeming island oasis. Located off the coast of Delaware, Plum Island is controlled by two feuding Irish families: the O’Flynns and the Muldoons. While the O’Flynn clan and its allies work to save the island and its remaining human residents from an infestation of the undead by finding and slaying all of those infected, the Muldoon camp believes that it’s their familial duty to keep their zombie kin alive – but chained up and under control – until a cure can be found. Naturally, these two philosophies cause a further rift between the competing families; ultimately, the Muldoons prevail, and Patrick O’Flynn – family patriarch and head of the zombie-hunting posse – is banished from the island.

After some time, O’Flynn returns in the company of the mercenaries, only to find the zombies “chained up [...] in imitation of their previous lives – a mailman puts mail in a mailbox, a logger wields an axe on some wood, and so on,” as Wiki so aptly describes it. The remaining inhabitants have started to lose hope that a cure is forthcoming; instead, they’ve shifted goals, aiming to train the zombies to at least “act” human – and, more importantly, to crave and consume the flesh of nonhuman animals over that of their human kin.

Ultimately, a show-down between the two clans hinges upon Seamus Muldoon’s success in this endeavor. One of Patrick Muldoon’s daughters, the zombie Jane, is placed in a small corral with a horse, in whom she shows little interest. Instead, she bites the hand of her twin sister Janet, thus infecting her as well. A gunfight breaks out between the two warring factions, and in the chaos, a group of gathered zombies is set loose on the participants, most of whom are devoured by their undead relatives.

After the battle ends and the group disperses, Jane does attack the horse, biting a chunk of flesh from his body. Alas, the only witnesses to this “victory” are Janet and her father. As Janet rushes off to inform the departing group, Patrick shoots his infected daughter in the head; the secret now belongs to the ever-proud Patrick, and Patrick alone.

The Muldoons, it turns out, were right: zombies can be retrained to eat nonhuman animals. In the context of the film, this shift in consumptive preferences is presented as a “good” thing – progress, success, a triumph. But is it?

As a vegan, my answer is obvious. But one need not be an animal advocate to see the horrific moral calculations embodied in this message. As popularly imagined – and certainly, as presented in Romero’s films – zombies are…undead. Unfeeling. Immune to pain, of either the physical or psychological sort. Lacking in emotions. Incapable of anything but the most rudimentary, instinctive thought. Unable to bond with or even recognize friends and family members. But most of all, they are dead! They had and lived their one life and, while it may have ended prematurely, it is over.

And yet, we’re supposed to see the sacrifice of countless other lives in sustenance of the undead as a “win”? As compared to zombies, nonhuman animals are sentient; they are capable of feeling pain, and suffer immensely while consumed alive, piece by agonizing piece, whether by zombies or humans. They can think, fall in love, experience joy and sadness, and feel fear and longing. They have friends and families, daughters and sons, mothers and fathers. Their will to live is no less than our own.

Going far beyond the fucked up, speciesist morals and practices of existing human societies, Survival of the Dead imagines a world in which nonhumans animals aren’t just “less than” humans – but are also “less than” dead humans. Has-been humans. Once-were humans. Are no more-humans. At best, terminally ill and in need of swift, humane euthanasia. At worst, just this side of a rock.

Nonhuman animals < zombies = a world I don't want to live in.

Is there a reason our undead families should snack on the flesh of nonhuman animals over that of humans? (After all, it is we who cannot accept their deaths.) Would we willingly offer our own bodies up to aid zombie dogs or undead polar bears in their own survival? (I think not.) And what happens, exactly, when the undead eat through all the nonhuman animal life forms on the planet? Humans are already devouring the planet’s resources at an alarming rate; earth simply would not survive an undead army of consumers for long. Ultimately, the Survival of the Dead would mean the demise of all – humans and nonhumans alike.

So.

Are we worth saving?

You tell me.

Share and Enjoy
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Tumblr
  • Print

Tags: , , , , , , ,

a brief programming note

September 7th, 2010 by Kelly Garbato

Update, 9/23/10: …and I’m back – in body, if not spirit. Details here.

————

Starting tomorrow and through September 20th, I’ll be on vacation and offline. Presumably, anyhow; I’ll be visiting my family in New York, and until I arrive, I’ve no idea what my internet/computer access and schedule will look like. I think it’s one of those situations where either I’ll be super-busy and hardly around at all, or extremely bored and using the extra time to tackle a backlog of work. Either way, expect spotty comment moderation, slow or no replies to email, and a near-total lack of blog posts during this time. (What’s new, you ask? j/k!)

In October (hopefully), keep an eye out for some much-needed changes to this here space, including a move of the Vegan (Re)views Database to the main page, where it should be (because, duh, it’s the main attraction!), as well as a contact form for easy link submissions and an improved search feature. Until then, please to send me your vegan review recommendations at easyvegan [at] gmail.com, mkay? It’s much appreciated!

Share and Enjoy
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Tumblr
  • Print

Tonight on Issues with Jane Velez Mitchell: “Jane’s Fight for Animal Rights”

July 5th, 2010 by Kelly Garbato

null

This is a little outside the realm of what I normally cover here at POP!, but seeing as I haven’t had time to write anything substantial lately, what the hey. Tonight’s episode of Issues with Jane Velez Mitchell (CNN’s HLN network, 7PM EDT) will be a special one, with the entire hour dedicated to animal advocacy issues. Though I have a bit of a heart/yuck relationship with Issues – while I’m happy to see animals granted equal consideration on a mainstream news network, and generally am in agreement with Jane on many topics, the show is also sensational at times, and grants entirely too much attention to celebrity gossip and such – even I have to admit that the idea of an entire hour dedicated to nonhuman concerns, voiced by a vegan at that, is very cool. And waaaay overdue, you might say.

Anyhow. DawnWatch has a rundown of planned topics, as well as contact info for JVM and CNN so that you can submit your feedback. Please tune in if you can, and thank Ms. Velez Mitchell for her coverage of animal rights issues (and CNN HLN for allowing her to speak out on behalf of such marginalized populations) even if you can’t/won’t/don’t watch tonight’s episode. You can also hit up CNN – as well as Issues and its host – on Facebook.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Thu, Jul 1, 2010 at 7:00 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: This Monday on “Issues” — “Jane’s Fight for Animal Rights” CNN’s HLN 7/5/10

The wonderful Jane Velez Mitchell of CNN’s Headline News Network is at it again — but bigger and better than ever before. This coming Monday, July 5, she will do an unprecedented full hour on animal rights issues, which she is calling “Jane’s Fight for Animal Rights.”

She’ll be talking with representatives from many of the major animal protection groups about
– The oil spill and it’s impact on animals
– The Ohio initiative — now tabled, and the resulting farm animal welfare gains and what’s ahead
– Dairy farm cruelty such as cow tail docking
– The fight against a monkey breeding facility planned for Puerto Rico
– The Nevada Wild Horse Round-Up

She’ll also talk with Bob Barker and Pierce Brosnan about whales and Whale Wars and with CSI’s Jorja Fox about the recent release of a group of Bolivian circus lions to a California sanctuary.

(More…)

Share and Enjoy
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Tumblr
  • Print

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead asks, “Are we worth saving?”

June 20th, 2010 by Kelly Garbato

Diary of the Dead (2007) - Movie Poster

George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead (2007) is your standard, post-apocalyptic zombie fare. As the dead begin to reanimate, a group of film students and their professor flees down the East Coast in a rickety RV. The story is told from the vantage point of the students, in particular Jason, the aspiring documentarian of the group.

Nonhuman animals don’t make an appearance in Diary of the Dead – really, there’s not one guard dog or zombie cat to be found – and yet, the movie’s ending speaks to what I’ve been feeling with increasing urgency as of late. (Cue images of the “oil” spill in the Gulf Coast, complete with hand-wringing about oil-soaked pelicans, torched turtles belonging to endangered species – and the “livelihoods” of the “fishermen” who themselves eke out a living by slaughtering nonhuman animals by the millions. “RIP Gumbo,” indeed.)

The final scene, narrated by Jason’s girlfriend, Debra (who took up his cause after he was mauled to death by a zombie; no spoiler alert needed, as she refers to him in the past tense throughout the film’s voiceover), turns the camera’s lens inward, into the heart of humanity.

Click here to watch the movie’s ending (skip ahead to 6:50; sorry, embedding disabled!), or keep reading for a transcript.

(More…)

Share and Enjoy
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Tumblr
  • Print

Tags: , , , , , , ,

DawnWatch: Meatless Mondays on ABC’s 10 Things I Hate About You, 4-19-10

May 3rd, 2010 by Kelly Garbato

Kay eyes Patrick’s burger from over the top of her book, Meat Is Not Green.
Image from “Meat is Murder.” Original air date April 19, 2010. Copyright ABC Family.
——————————

Sorry for my absence, folks. I’ve been otherwise preoccupied in the “real world,” and – while I wish I could say that I’ll soon return to regular blogging – this may or may not be the case. In the meantime, check out the following alert from DawnWatch, wherein Karen provides an overview of a recent veg-friendly episode of ABC Family’s 10 Things I Hate About You (“Meat Is Murder,” Season 1, Episode 14). Sadly, last week it was announced that the show will not be picked up for a second season; however, I still urge you to send some feedback ABC’s way, whether positive or negative (or a little bit of both!), in order to encourage similar (or new and improved!) plot lines in the future.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Mon, Apr 26, 2010 at 8:46 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Meatless Mondays on ABC’s 10 Things I Hate About You 4/19/10

Last Monday’s episode, April 19, of the hit primetime ABC series “10 Things I Hate About You” was titled “Meat is Murder.” It centered on Kat’s efforts to get Meatless Monday’s introduced at her school.

You can watch the episode on line [here].

I urge you to check it out, at least for a minute — stations take note of what shows and episodes get the most online hits.

I will give you some highlights:

It opens with Kat sitting at lunch, reading a book titled, “Meat is Not Green.” When her boyfriend sits down with a burger and asks about the book in a teasing manner, Kat says: “Did you know that 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from animal agriculture?”

He admits that it’s fascinating and she says, “If everybody at this school ate vegetables instead of processed animal flesh just one day a week it would make a huge environmental impact.”

He asks if he could do a walkathon instead, and she says, “If you don’t want to do it for the earth, do it for you colon.”

Then she gets up and says, “Enjoy your carbon footprint. I am going to go do something about this.”

(More…)

Share and Enjoy
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Tumblr
  • Print

Tags: , , , , , , , ,