Earthlings screening exposes injustice in animal cruelty


August PelliccioGeneral Assignment Reporter

For the purposes of clothing, food, entertainment and research, humans cause immeasurable amounts of suffering to animals of all kinds.

It may be hard to imagine the kind of torment that animals are put through before being slaughtered for human purposes, but the film “Earthlings” explicitly highlights exactly that torment.

Southern’s Humane Society, led by president Luke Grandpre, held a viewing as part of Social Justice Month on Nov. 29.

Grandpre said the purpose of the viewing was that, “It exposes the brutality against animals in all aspects.”

“Earthlings,” written, produced and directed by Shaun Monson, was released in 2005. The film is entirely narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, and it begins, “Since we all inhabit the earth, all of us are considered earthlings.” It continues, “There is no sexism, no racism or speciesism in the term ‘earthling.’”

The film explains that humans share this world with millions of other living beings, but selfishly we dominate, treating other living things as mere objects. “Earthlings” is roughly 90 minutes of graphic images presenting the conditions in which animals exist and die in several industries. Everything from minks and lynxes being skinned still alive, to cows chained up by one leg bleeding out onto the factory floor is shown bluntly in the film.

Rosalyn Amenta, a professor of women’s studies, was in attendance at the viewing; she said she has seen the film many times. Amenta said she does not enjoy watching the film, but thinks it is an important film to see to remind herself what is happening in the world.

“It’s difficult to educate and raise consciousness,” Amenta said.

Amenta said that is because we tend to avoid talking about what is really going on. She calls animal cruelty “the forbidden subject,” and says it is the last taboo to conquer.

“Opportunities like this can enlighten people how many cultures think of animal life as one dimensional, and use it for self-serving or capitalistic purposes,” said Amenta.

This is ultimately the reason Grandpre set out to make the film public on campus, for Social Justice Month. Grandpre had been a vegetarian before seeing the film, but he said it was mostly for health reasons. Seeing the film in high school ended up being a stepping-stone toward the vegan lifestyle he practices today.

Grandpre said, “After watching this film it became more about the animals.”

Though a lot of people have somewhat of an understanding of the industries in question, Grandpre said more often than not, when people eat meat, they are not killing the animal themselves, so they don’t see the effect they are having. That is where the film becomes relevant.

“What we expect as a program,” said Grandpre, “would be that for people who don’t really know what’s happening, it really puts things into perspective.”

A connection that was made by board members during the concluding discussion, as well as during the film, is that animal violence is just as brutal as any other violence.

The film features a quote by great Russian author Leo Tolstoy, “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.”

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio

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