Sunday, October 5, 2008

Uncaged—Yes on Proposition 2

Before we get down to business, we must mention two things:

1) California residents, please do vote Yes on Proposition 2, the farm animal welfare bill on the November 2008 ballot.

2) While you're at it, consider voting Yes on the Little Old Lady Protection Act. LOLPA would outlaw pushing little old ladies down the stairs before mugging them. Although LOLPA has garnered much support, some detractors see in it an unnecessary restriction on personal liberty. Rest assured, LOLPA does not prohibit mugging of the elderly and would not prevent you from continuing to assault and rob anyone.

Which brings us to Uncaged. This animated Yes-on-2 production stars a pig singing a Proposition 2–related version of Stevie Wonder's classic Superstitious.

The cause is worthy. The message is repulsive and winds up recapitulating major themes of the suicidefoodist movement. The animals do not object to being raised for food, to being transformed even before their birth into a commodity. No, that is a foundational component of being an animal, and they are foursquare in favor of that. They take issue only with the specifics of their subjugation.

One might have supposed that people devoted to the welfare (if not the freedom) of animals would have preferred a less ugly approach. Was it necessary to show rows of pigs cheering as our singer/pig Sty-vie Wonder requests pleasanter confinement? Or ranks of thumbs-upping chickens pleased to be referred to as "food"? Or a veal calf (one of the "calves you will be eatin'") relieved only to stop "livin' in [its] poo"?

Back to the (imaginary) Little Old Ladies Protection Act. Just as Prop 2 calls for what should be uncontroversially humane treatment of livestock, LOLPA calls for people not to push little old ladies down flights of stairs. Who but the psychopathological could oppose such a measure?

Say that pro-LOLPA advocacy groups produced a snappy animated number. In it, darling little old cartoon ladies asked simply, "Before you mug us, please don't shove us down the stairs." Would that give you pause?

"When you mug us, you don't need to hug us! Just don't! Push! Us! Down! The! Staaairs!" Would you wonder, "Why is grandma okay with the idea of getting mugged in the first place? Couldn't they find another way of presenting their case?"

So it is with Uncaged. Surely there is a way to express support for the measure without showing animals explicitly endorsing its of-course-animals-are-still-going-to-be-killed-and-eaten presupposition.

(Thanks to Dr. Gennifer for the referral.)

Addendum: If you live in California, please do vote Yes on Prop 2. Thank you.


Elaine Vigneault said...

Yeah, I couldn't bring myself to post that video because it's just too disgusting.

Adam said...

Great post (and blog in general)! I'm really impressed. Where do you find all these ads?

When I first saw the Prop2 video I was completely offended. The animals are re-presented as goofy and childish just as black slaves were depicted as "sambos." They are happy to appease their masters, even if this means their death. They'll even celebrate their condition through song and dance! If it's racism to depict Afroamericans as sambos, it must be speciesist to portray pigs, chickens, and calves as "happy meat."

How do most vegans not give a second thought about this video and look beyond it's cutesiness? This film deserves 6 nooses if you ask me.

Stephanie said...

I am so, so glad to see that others are offended by this video too. I've seen so many positive responses to it that I was starting to wonder if I was the only one who had a problem with it! I wrote about it on the new animal rights blog (, and though I kept my temper and sarcasm somewhat in check there, my first draft of a post on this topic a couple weeks ago (originally intended for my personal blog) was even angrier and less forgiving. I think I used the word "fuck" a lot in the first draft. :)

Anonymous said...

It may not be the most heart-filling representation of the animals, but it will (hopefully) be a step in the better treatment of them. I know many people would like to do away with animal farming altogether, but that's not gonna happen any time soon. Making people aware that animals need humane conditions is the first of many long steps to people perhaps realizing that animals are not commodities to be used without care, but living creatures.
It's a start.

Desdemona said...

I couldn't even watch it to the end. Disgusting.

Lisa J. said...

I didn't watch it. When I saw the "ad" for the video all it took was one look at that goofy cartoon pig to tell me I didn't want to watch it.

LOLPA sounds like a worthy cause, though.

6 nooses? That's awesome.

Anonymous said...

Great blog and points, but why the hell should we vote yet on it?? If it's bullshit, and possibly a step backwards for animals by continuing to suggest they are commodities and can be exploited so long as they are done negligibly-less-egregiously, why support it?

adam said...

Anonymous wrote: "Making people aware that animals need humane conditions is the first of many long steps to people perhaps realizing that animals are not commodities to be used without care..."

Perhaps prop2 is itself not a bad thing, but what many of of find heinous about the video is its depiction of animals whose place is in in human stomachs. The animals in the video have little to celebrate; they will still be cramped into crappy warehouses and be slaughtered.

The whole argument for "humane conditions" is BS. "Humane" is always relative; it is a contextual characteristic, not an objective principle. The point is that nonhuman animals ought not to be property, commodities, mere means to an end. Animal "rights" are not going to be won by the rhetoric of humane.

hellop said...

"The point is that nonhuman animals ought not to be property,"

So, I guess you guys don't believe in pets, eh? I guess you don't believe in house cats, or fences for your dog. Why don't you just let you child's dog whom you've been feeding and taking to the vet for 5 years run free. When your dog comes home with me because I gave him the chicken carcass I just sucked the juicy BBQ from, you'll just explain to your crying children, "Dogs are not property, so quit crying at eat your vegetables." Listen all you holier-than-thou hypocrites, animals eat other animals. This is what nature intended. Just because this small issue makes you feel better doesn't mean you'll look like any less of a self-righteous A-hole. Why not stop worrying about the feelings of some sea insects and start caring about starving humans who need food?

Dan said...

is it just me or does anyone else want to eat that pig?

Ben said...

Homo habilis called. He wants his joke back.