Posts Tagged ‘tv’

Stephen Colbert schools Jonathan Safran Foer on happy meat animals.

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 by

Stephen Colbert of THE COLBERT REPORT

Admittedly, this is rather old news, but Jonathan Safran Foer appeared on The Colbert Report last Monday in order to discuss – what else? – Eating Animals.

[Initially, I was going to group Foer’s interview with those of Claire Danes and John Durant in one big “(happy) meat peddlers” video roundup, but the Foer and Danes interviews proved a pleasant surprise – and not because of the guests! – so a dedicated post for everyone! Except for you, Durant. You’re kind of a douche, and you make this galactosemic lady feel a bit like one, too. (It’s not the same as lactose intolerance, but it’s close enough.) But anyway, that’s the backstory behind my procrastination. End: digression.]

The interview was about as frustrating as I expected on Foer’s end, e.g.,

* “I wouldn’t necessarily say you should become a vegetarian […] I would say you should eat less meat.”

* [When asked if he would eat a hot dog] “Maybe the hot dogs they made 50 years ago.” (as opposed to those produced today)

To his credit, Foer does manage to stay on message and squeeze in a number of pertinent facts re: animal agriculture, however, in downplaying the need for vegetarianism, he negates whatever points he may have scored with the audience. (i.e., if animal cruelty is wrong, and even “happy meat” products are cruel…go vegetarian on Mondays after 6 PM? Say what now?)

And veganism? Fuhgeddaboudit! The word “vegan” was not uttered once during the entire 5+ minute interview.

Luckily, in his quest to be the most ridiculous caricature of a self-delusional meat-eater he could be, Colbert provided some of the more trenchant quips in the exchange. To wit:

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Once a Terrorist, Always a Terrorist: Sean Maher Meets The Mentalist *

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 by

The Mentalist logo banner

Caution: Spoilers ahead!

No stranger to the Green Scare, the latest episode of CBS’s The Mentalist (Season 2, Episode 12 – the appropriately titled “Bleeding Heart“) featured a terra-inducing plot line, complete with a proposed mega-development in the wilderness, government corruption and intrigue, and a graffiti-and-arson-loving eco-terrorist named Jasper.

Here’s what you need to know, via TVOvermind:

Sean Maher as Dr. Simon Tam of Firefly

The Mentalist “Bleeding Heart” begins with Agent Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) and consultant Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) being interviewed by a camera crew in the CBI office. […]

Lisbon allows the crew access to the office and bullpen, but not the crime scene. The team is investigating the murder of the mayor’s aide, who was found when the mayor herself broke ground in front of the cameras for a new development project. When they interview Mayor Melba Walker Shannon (Sharon Lawrence of Privileged and NYPD Blue) and her assistant Wilson (Firefly‘s Sean Maher), Jane notices immediately that the mayor seems uncomfortable talking about the victim. When he presses, the mayor asks them to leave.

A possible perpetrator of the crime is an environmental group led by a man named Jasper. Though they’ve burned down buildings on protective land and other drastic measures, they haven’t committed any murder in their past history. Rigsby and Cho pay a visit to the foreman on the building site where the aide’s body was discovered, but while they’re questioning him, the trailer gets firebombed and the door jammed. The foreman is injured and Rigsby and Cho barely make it out with him before the place burns up. It’s clear to them that Jasper is escalating in violence.

Further investigation leads the team to suspect that the mayor was being bribed to approve projects on previously protected lands.

The investigation continues, yada yada yada, Jane takes the news crew out for tacos by way of an apology for exploding at them earlier – and is promptly kidnapped by Jasper and his crew:

Jane is blindfolded and led to a cabin in the woods. His blindfold is removed and he’s confronted by the masked men, one of whom he surmises is eco-terrorist Jasper. Jasper wants Jane to carry a message that he’s not the one who committed murder or attempted to kill the detectives. Unfortunately Jane reveals that he’s figured out Jasper’s identity–the mayor’s assistant Wilson. […]

While Jasper tries to decide what to do now that Jane knows his identity, Jane tries to talk his way out of his own possible murder, saying he can help Wilson. He succeeds in getting Wilson to a near state of hypnosis, when they’re suddenly interrupted by a loud shout that the house is surrounded by law enforcement personnel. Jane urges Jasper to stay calm. When Lisbon and the cops burst in, Jane is alone and restrained and Jasper has escaped out of a trap door.

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Lost‘s Sayid Jarrah: A History of Violence

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010 by

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Caution: Spoilers through Season 5 below.

Last year, I wrote a (relatively) brief summary of the few animal-friendly plot lines found in seasons one through four of Lost. Animal advocacy issues are rarely addressed in the show, but look closely, and you’re bound to discover occasional gem: lovable Kate is a vegetarian, while show villain Anthony Cooper enjoys blood sports such as hunting. The Losties (understandably) took to hunting wild boar for sustenance early on, but the slaughter quickly ceased when they discovered the Dharma food drops. And who could forget Sayid’s memories of Amira?

While nonhuman animals didn’t much figure into the season five story arc, one episode in particular stuck with me. In fact, I meant to write about “He’s Our You” (Season 5, Episode 11) months ago, but somehow it kept getting placed on the back burner. With the final season of Lost set to begin tonight, what better time to revisit an old episode?

As I noted previously, Sayid’s story lines oftentimes revolve around the themes of forgiveness and vengeance, with Sayid struggling to come to grips with his strikingly violent past. As a soldier in the Iraq Republican Guard, he was captured, co-opted, and trained as an “interrogator” (read: torturer) by American forces during Operation Desert Storm. At the close of the war, his “skills” were put to use and turned against his fellow Iraqi citizens in the Republican Guard, where he was promoted to the Intelligence division and tasked with torturing dissidents and political prisoners – including his long lost childhood love, Nadia (as well as the aforementioned Amira). Torn between his allegiance to his country and his moral qualms, he helped Nadia to escape, but could not bring himself to go with her.

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Once on the island, Sayid (somewhat reluctantly) put his interrogation skills to use several times (as if fate would not allow him a break from his past – even when stranded on a lost island!), first torturing an innocent but obstinate Sawyer, and later, a guilty but cunning Ben Linus. During the “A-list missions” and battles with the Others, Sayid proved to be a valuable military asset. After escaping from the island, Sayid reunited with Nadia, only to see her murdered not a year after their wedding. The rest of Sayid’s time off the island is devoted to hunting her killers down, one by one, and exacting revenge. This came with an uneasy alliance with Ben, on the premise that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” However, it’s still unclear whether the men Ben directed Sayid to kill had anything to do with Nadia’s murder – or if Sayid was being conned.

Flash forward to Sayid’s return to the island – circa 1977. Here, a lost and confused Sayid struggles with the reason why he’s been brought back to the island; what is his purpose here? After meeting 12-year-old Ben Linus, Sayid has an epiphany: if he was to kill Ben, then the young, innocent Ben would not live to grow into the evil, adult Ben that the Losties know and hate – and thus most of the (present-day) events in Lost would never occur. But can Sayid really murder a child in cold blood?

He’s Our You” deals with Sayid’s inner struggle over this complex moral dilemma. As with earlier episodes, Sayid wonders whether he’ll ever be able to escape his past as a torturer and killer; are these merely things that he has done – bad things, of course, but things that can be left in the past – or are they what he is? To what extent do Sayid’s sins define him as a person? And, given the American occupying forces’ role in shaping his destiny, is Sayid a natural born or man-made killer?

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The Men Who Stare At Hug Goats

Monday, January 4th, 2010 by

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Crossposted from V for Vegan.

Caution: Major spoilers ahead.

While The Men Who Stare at Goats is by no means an animal rights or overtly anti-vivisection movie, it does (happily!) have a few animal-friendly moments.

Based on a 2004 book of the same name by journalist Jon Ronson, the film is a dramatized account of Ronson’s investigation into “psychic” warfare experiments conducted by the U.S. military in the ’70s and ’80s. Ostensibly a story for the skeptic set (indeed, that’s why the husband and I saw it in the theater), the film also at turns sentimentalizes the “free love,” hippie sensibilities and mysticism of the ’60s and ’70s. (Indeed, it concludes on a disappointingly “anything is possible if you believe” note.)

Anyhow, along with all the “flower power” comes not a little tree- and animal-hugging. Goat-hugging, to be more specific: because the army’s more “practical” experiments involve trauma training carried out on live animals, the medical school’s in-house goats also play a role in the aforementioned psychic experimentation – the purposes of which isn’t nearly as sadistic as the trailers let on.

Lest I get ahead of myself, here’s a brief synopsis, via Wiki:

The film follows Ann Arbor Daily Telegram reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor), who one day interviews Gus Lacey, a man who claims to have psychic abilities. Bob shrugs Lacey off as crazy. Soon after, Bob’s wife leaves him for his one-armed editor. Bob, out of anger, flies to Kuwait to investigate the Iraq War. However, he stumbles onto the story of a lifetime when he meets Special Forces operator, Lyn Cassady (George Clooney). Lyn reveals that he was part of an American army unit training psychic spies (or “Jedi Warriors”), trained to develop a range of parapsychological skills including invisibility, remote viewing, cloud bursting, walking through walls, and intuition.

The founder of this unit, Bill Django (Jeff Bridges), traveled across America in the 1970s for six years exploring a range of New Age movements (including the Human potential movement), because of a vision he received after getting shot during the Vietnam War, and used these experiences to found the New Earth Army. In the 1980s, two of Django’s best recruits were Lyn Cassady and Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey), who developed a lifelong rivalry because of their opposing views of how to implement the New Earth Army philosophy; Lyn wanted to emphasize the positive side of the teachings, whereas Larry was more interested in the dark side of the philosophy.

In the early 2000s Bob and Lyn embark on a new mission in Iraq, where they are kidnapped by a criminal gang. They escape with fellow kidnapping victim Mahmud Daash (Waleed Zuaiter) and get rescued by a private security firm led by Todd Nixon (Robert Patrick), but get caught up in a firefight between Todd’s security firm and a rival security firm; this would later be known as the “Battle of Ramadi.” Mahmud, Bob and Lyn escape from the firefight and go to Mahmud’s house, which has been shot up by soldiers. From there Bob and Lyn leave to continue on Lyn’s vague mission involving a vision he had of Bill Django.

Here it’s worth noting that Cassady recounts the story of Django and the New Earth Army as his Iraqi adventure with Wilton unfolds in parallel. Both tales begin on a light, humorous note, eventually taking turns for the worse. While the trailers and media interviews done in promotion of the movie tend to emphasize the New Earth Army’s more nefarious projects, Django began the program with the best of intentions: namely, achieving world peace through love and understanding. A laudable goal, to be sure – even if its implementation proved somewhat ridiculous.

However, Hooper eventually betrays Django, assuming control of the New Earth Army in order to corrupt it. (Think of Django as Obi-Wan Kenobi to Cassady’s Luke Sywalker and Hooper’s Darth Vader.) The peace, love and understanding of Django’s ’60s and ’70s give way to the greed, militarization and subjugation of – what? The Reagen ’80s? The Clinton ’90s? The Bush ’00s? All of the above? Take your pick! (The Men Who Stare at Goats is, if not anti-war, at least anti-torture.)

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“I have always loved Harry’s ribs!”

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

CSI smiley logo

Caution: Spoilers ahead.

The second-to-last episode of CSI in 2009 featured a particularly animal-friendly plot line. I say “particularly” rather than “surprisingly” because CSI has a longstanding track record of treating animals and animal advocacy issues with a modicum of respect – a practice which stands in sharp contrast to similar crime shows like Law & Order. (See, for example, Veg*nism & Pop Culture: But does Costa Rica have an extradition treaty? and Veg*nism & Pop Culture: Sara Sidle: From CSI to Terra-ist.)

Season 10, Episode 9 (Appendicitement) saw the CSI team investigating not one, but two separate murders, both of which occurred on the premises of a BBQ joint. Since IMDB has a decent writeup of the episode, I’ll let them take it away:

There are two twisty tales in Vegas tonight. Strike that, one in Vegas and one outside.

The first tale concerns lab tech Henry. Greg, Nick, and Hodges literally kidnap Henry on his birthday to take him to this great barbecue place up the road apiece called Harry’s Hog Hideout.* On the way there a crazy lady runs them off the road and the car rolls. Fortunately, none of them is seriously injured but Nick’s car is out of commission. With no cell service, they decide to walk the last little bit to Harry’s but, unfortunately, when they arrive they discover it’s been closed for seven months due to a Hepatitis outbreak. They decide to poke around and see if there’s a working phone inside.

Instead they find a dead body, a man with a raccoon attached to his face.

While Henry, disgruntled about his crummy birthday, hangs with the dead guy Hodges and Greg poke around outside. They figure out that the guy lured the raccoon to a nearby barrel and tried to kill him by filling the barrel with ethylene gas and blowing him up. The explosion threw the raccoon and the guy through the window of Harry’s. So it was an accident.

Meanwhile, Nick looks for a phone and it’s not working. He returns to the scene just as another guy shows up and pulls a gun on Henry. They make it clear that they’re cops and the guy, Slick explains that the dead guy was Gomez the cook at Harry’s, who was generally a good guy.

(Emphasis and asterisks mine, of course.)

Initially – and in breaking with the show’s usual treatment of such cases – the CSI investigators exhibit disappointingly little concern for the dead raccoon. Personally, I am lacking in sympathy for people who inadvertently blow themselves up while trying to lure a sentient being into a trap, only to torch him alive. Killing “nuisance” animals – especially when there are humane, catch-and-release options available – is bad enough; plotting to light them on fire while still alive and fully conscious is downright sadistic. Unfortunately, the CSI team doesn’t voice any of these thoughts – that is, until much later in the show.

Once the plot unfolds and the bodies are transported back to the lab, coroner David Phillips expresses grief at the raccoon’s demise. I can’t recall what exactly was said (nor did I think to save the episode on my DVR so that I might type up a transcript – doh!), but I believe that David muttered something about the human getting what he deserved and referred to the raccoon as an innocent bystander.

In other words, all is well in the Las Vegas crime lab!

Alas, we still have one body to account for…

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Stephen’s Sound Advice: “Invest in Gold, Women and Sheep.” Also: A wet pork contest!

Sunday, December 20th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

Oh, how the writers at The Colbert Report continue to warm my heathen vegan feminist cockles! (Dear mystery vegetarian/vegan on Stephen’s staff: Call me, mkay?)

Tuesday’s episode of The Colbert Report featured this hilarious send-up of Glenn Beck & Co.’s recent gold investment advertising-slash-infomercial media blitz. While the entire six-minute segment is amusing, gold obviously isn’t our primary focus here; no, the trenchant-as-hell bit starts at 4:15:
 

 
For those who aren’t card-carrying members of The Colbert Nation, allow me to set the bit up for you. “Prescott Financial” is a spinoff of “Prescott Pharmaceuticals,” a spoof company that “sponsors” a long-running segment on TCR, “Cheating Death with Dr. Stephen Colbert, DFA.” In “Cheating Death,” Stephen reports on actual medical stories, which are then used to promote medical breakthrough products offered by Prescott Pharmaceuticals. Ridiculously fake medical breakthrough products, with equally ridiculous and fake side effects, that is.

Likewise, in this fake ad from Prescott Financial, spokesperson John Slattery recommends investing in gold as a safeguard against the coming apocalypse. While gold’s appeal may be “elemental” (A! U!), even this most precious metal’s value is limited. For example, you can’t eat gold. Thus, Slattery recommends rounding out your portfolio with women and sheep as well as gold doubloons and bricks.

Here’s a transcript of the “commercial,” for those who can’t view the video. (But if you can, you must!)

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Parks & Recreation: Because no camel is complete without an attractive lady with a hamburger for a head.

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

Caution: Minor spoilers after the jump!

As y’all have probably surmised, I watch no small amount of television. (More than I should, one might argue.) In particular, I’m always on the lookout for shows with progressive, pro-animal, pro-woman, pro-GLBTQ (etc.) themes – and Parks and Recreation is fast becoming one of my all-time favorites.

Like Bitch’s Kelsey Wallace, I’m tickled (not-pink!) by the feminist turn the show’s taken in Season 2. Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope is looking less and less like a womanly Michael Scott (read: a racist, sexist douchebag with a dwindling pool of redeeming qualities) and more like a goofy, less intellectually endowed version of Hillary Clinton. The walls of Ms. Knope’s office are decorated with framed snapshots of woman politicians (Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Madeline Albright – hey, what are political parties against the bond of sisterhood?); when judging a beauty pageant, she weighted the contestant’s brains above all else; and her accidental marriage of two male penguins at the Pawnee Zoo (I know, zoos, ugh!) scored her a gig as a guest DJ at the local gay club (though the penguins were sadly split up at episode’s end).

Season 2’s episode 9, “The Camel” – which aired the Thursday before last – was especially awesome. I’ve embedded the entire episode below, but the most awesomest of the awesomeness is all of 30 seconds long. Since the video will only be available on Hulu for a limited time, I’ve also taken screenshots so you latecomers can follow along.

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Farm Sanctuary: Hit Fox Show Bones to Spotlight Farm Sanctuary Footage

Thursday, November 5th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

I just spotted this notice from Farm Sanctuary in my inbox and thought I’d share. Tune in to Fox tonight at 8PM Eastern time, where the “darkly comic procedural drama”* Bones will feature undercover factory farm footage secured by Farm Sanctuary and specially requested by the show’s star – fellow vegan Emily Deschanel.

Alas, I won’t be watching. Though I adore Bones, I’m somewhat of a newbie fan, and am only halfway through Season 4 on DVD. Tonight’s episode will languish on my DVR until the Mr. and I catch up. So no spoilers, mkay?

———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 4:04 PM
Subject: TONIGHT: Hit Fox Show “Bones” to Spotlight Farm Sanctuary Factory Farming Footage

Kelly,

Very exciting news! Tonight’s episode (8pm/7 Central) of the hit FOX show “Bones” will be spotlighting Farm Sanctuary footage of cruel factory farming practices. Please see below for full details. Make sure to tune in and please spread the word!

All the best,

Meredith

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Farm Sanctuary Footage of Cruel Factory Farming Practices Spotlighted on Hit FOX TV Show “Bones”

NEW YORK, NY – November 5, 2009 – Tonight’s episode of the hit FOX television show “Bones” (airing at 8pm/7 Central), starring vegan actress and Farm Sanctuary supporter Emily Deschanel, will prominently feature factory farming footage secured by Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, as part of a plot-line surrounding a murder that takes place at a chicken farm.

The footage, which was requested by Deschanel, will educate thousands of mainstream viewers about the cruel conditions animals are forced to endure on factory farms. The episode also features a character who rescues a pig and asks her coworkers for donations so that she can sponsor her at a sanctuary.

To further raise awareness of the horrors of factory farming, FOX is featuring a special message from Deschanel on their website (http://fox.com/bones/) urging people to support Farm Sanctuary by sponsoring an animal in need.

To learn more about “adopting” one of Farm Sanctuary’s rescued animals, please visit farmsanctuary.org.

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Green Porno 3.0: Compassion is sexy!

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

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Back in June, I raved about Green Porno, a subversive (and delightfully cheesy!) documentary series starring Isabella Rossellini (whom I’ve had a massive girl-crush on ever since her turn as Katya Derevko in Alias). Green Porno examines the sex lives of nonhuman animals – which, oftentimes, are far from “conventional.” To this end, the show has great potential to change how humans view “others”: women, homosexuals, transgendered persons, gender nonconformists – and even nonhuman animals.

To this, I’d like to add that, in addition to their anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, anti-transphobic, anti-anti-sex thrust (pun most definitely intended), these shows are anti-speciesist as well.

While [the] disavowal of animal homosexuality and sexual variety serves to justify and reinforce “isms” directed at humans (homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, etc.), it at also functions at another level. In denying non-human animals the full range of their behavioral, emotional and sexual expression, we rob them of their complexity, their personality – for lack of a better term, their humanity.

Like us, non-human animals can be complicated creatures, driven by a range of goals and desires. Animals, humans included, aren’t just about reproduction; our sole purpose in life isn’t simply to spread our DNA and produce as much offspring as possible. Sometimes we have sex, mate and form bonds because it’s fulfilling in other ways. Nor do we only nurture and protect our own genetic material: sometimes we act with altruism and compassion rather than selfishness and narcissism.

By insisting that animals only copulate in order to introduce sperm to egg, we simplify trillions of sentient beings, taking from them characteristics which make them seem that much more human.

Ironically, in so doing, we also reduce the human species to a caricature, a boring, two-dimensional model which scarcely resembles h. spaiens, in all its diverse, eccentric, animalistic magnificence.

Watching animal sex play out amidst kindergarten construction paper cutouts and human-sized bodysuits, the viewer (hopefully) comes to see nonhumans as the unique individuals they really are. When one ceases to regard a group of beings as a single, undifferentiated mass of “stuff,” othering them – based on species, sex, sexuality, race, breed or whatnot – becomes a difficult, twisted task indeed.

Season 1 focused on bugs (spiders, flies, earthworms), Season 2 on ocean dwellers (barnacles, whales, starfish). Both Wiki and I had thought Season 3 would shift focus to farmed animals such as pigs and cows, but it looks Season 3 will continue to examine marine animals. In a subtle shift from Season 2, however, Rossellini’s attention turns to ocean dwellers whom we commonly kill and eat (and oftentimes “farm” as well).

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Stephen Colbert weighs in on Shark Week.

Saturday, August 8th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

Okay, that’s it. I’m now convinced that there’s a vegan, vegetarian or animal advocate of some stripe on The Colbert Report payroll. This segment is just too spot on to have been written by an unrepentant speciesist.
 

 
In just three minutes, Colbert touches upon several important points:

1 – Sensationalist predator programming like “Shark Week” perpetuates the myth that many wild-living animals, including sharks, are dangerous creatures who are out to get us. They are to be feared – and also dominated, conquered and killed. It’s “us or them,” right?

2 – The Discovery Channel is doubly irresponsible in its demonization of species which are largely endangered.

3 – Promoting shark “conservation” during Shark Week commercial breaks? Batshit insanity! (Can I say that? Is “batshit insane” a speciesist phrase? Any vegan linguists in the house?)

4 – Humans pose a much greater threat to other humans than do sharks. In fact, humans pose the greatest threat to all life. We’re the ultimate monsters, yo.

5 – Mainstream media: FAIL.

Videos in this post

The Colbert Report – Wednesday, August 5, 2009 – Human Week
Since sharks don’t kill that many people, the Discovery Channel should replace their Shark Week with Human Week. (03:13)