The Expanding Circle

…health, the environment, and social justice…

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Meta

  • Advertisements

Posts Tagged ‘film’

Save us from Guardians of the Galaxy

Posted by tinako on September 15, 2014

GOTG-posterI went with my family to see Guardians of the Galaxy Saturday, and spent most of the movie in open-mouthed horror.  I would have been warned if I had even glanced at the movie poster before entering, but due to my inattention I had no idea what it was about.  So I suppose I deserved what I got.

While I watched, I was reminded of something I once read, “When your young children watch television, it’s like inviting strangers into your home to teach them values.”  You should take your kids to see Guardians of the Galaxy if you would like strangers to teach your children that:

  1. Abusing and killing small animals is funny and cool
  2. Gambling-induced animal fights are very entertaining
  3. There’s no problem that can’t be solved with a gun.  If you can’t solve a problem, your gun isn’t big enough.
  4. Prison guards are the bad guys
  5. If the dialogue isn’t working out, just pile on the bodies.  On-screen killings are a great diversion.
  6. It’s really funny when someone somewhat gentle unexpectedly kills 20 people in an extremely violent way.
  7. Violence is even better with a cool retro soundtrack.
  8. We just need to get rid of the “bad guys” and everything will be fine.

Here are the footnotes:

  1. The hero starts the movie off by kicking small animals out of his way, at full force.  I wondered if this would be the horrible “before” person the hero changes from, but while the heroes do grow in that they care for some people, they do not grow less violent.
  2. There is a dog-fighting equivalent with aliens animals.  This is at the point in the movie when the heroes begin to be a little nicer to each other, so I was hoping one of them would show, by even a look, that this was not OK.  But no.  They eagerly participate.
  3. If you go see this movie, try to spot the scene without a gun.  It is non-stop.  At one point, one hero blows away his friend’s sister with a bazooka (literally) when she calls his friend a mean name.
  4. Our heroes are in prison after they break the law on a peaceful planet.  We are supposed to cheer when they kill dozens of guards on their way out.
  5. I couldn’t believe how gratuitous the violence was.  They wouldn’t merely injure someone if they could kill him, and they wouldn’t merely kill one person if they could kill 20.  I asked my daughter how many people she saw killed in the movie.  She guessed a thousand.  I think that would be low if you count the one-man spaceships which are destroyed, but shots where you actually see a person killed, probably several hundred.  Alas, their deaths were in vain – they failed to distract from the clunky comic-book dialogue.
  6. A hero who seems quieter and kinder suddenly impales 10 soldiers and then for a good 10 seconds smashes the implement and their bodies into another dozen or so soldiers, smashing everyone to bits.  He then looks back at his friends and smiles at their surprise.
  7. The soundtrack was all old hits.  This was meant to help us relate to this guy as he blew people away.
  8. The bad guys were completely one-dimensional.  Why is it OK for good guys to kill them?  Because they’re bad.  Why are they bad?  Because they’re the bad guys.  It’s the Myth of Redemptive Violence.  I know, it’s a comic book.  But when you put it into a live-action movie, it becomes values.  I prefer this one: Wouldn’t it be convenient if we could line up all the bad people on one side, and be rid of them?  But the line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man, and who would cut out a piece of his own heart?

It makes me very sad that these are the stories our culture tells itself, these are the values our culture admires.


Posted in Animals, Musings | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by tinako on August 19, 2014

20140417173626-cowspiracy_posterThe movie Cowspiracy has come out.  I was so excited to learn that someone was finally asking these questions – why aren’t environmental organizations talking about livestock’s impact on the environment?  It’s such a glaring omission.  I supported the filmmakers on Indiegogo, so I received my promised DVD a few days ago.  You can look up local screenings at their web site.

The film is very well done, and I think it could have a big impact if it is put before local environmental leaders.  Two local vegan/AR organizations I’m in are going to co-host a showing.  Don’t miss it, and be sure to recommend it to your “environmentalist meat-eater” friends.

Posted in Environment | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Surprising Speaker

Posted by tinako on July 8, 2014

The audience’s reaction is what’s interesting to me in this video about food marketing.

I’ve never seen anything like this and really wasn’t expecting her closing.  Sometimes I think surprise is the only way to get through.

Posted in Animals, Social Justice | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

We Feed the World

Posted by tinako on September 27, 2010

Every five seconds a child under ten dies of starvation. A child that dies of starvation is in effect murdered.

-Jean Ziegler, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

I just watched “We Feed the World,” a documentary about the globalized food industry.  A quote on the front cover uses the word “absurdities” and I think that’s an apt description.  The first segment, showing how difficult it is for farmers trying to make a living growing wheat, which sells for a lower price than road salt, ends by showing enormous quantities of two-day-old bread being discarded; I’m talking a mountain of bread dumped by the truckload, while mentioned several times during the film is the fact that 100,000 people die of starvation every day.

I had a little trouble relating to this Austrian film with English subtitles.  Quantities were often metric, currency was in euros, and most of the complaints were about the new E.U. laws.  In a way I found it comforting that America doesn’t have the only stupid food system, but of course there is real suffering involved here.

After seeing how poorly this industry is working for so many farmers and consumers (can we call starving people consumers?), the filmmaker makes a visit to Nestle for an interview with the CEO, Peter Brabeck.  I don’t think I agreed with a single thing he said, and of course ending the movie with his out-of-touch words is the whole point.  I don’t often talk back to movies, but I gave Peter Brabeck a piece of my mind when he called the notion that people have a public right to water “extreme.”

Other topics covered in the documentary are large-scale fishing, hybrid seeds, rainforest deforestation for soybeans for animal feeds (“chickens eating the rainforest”), broiler chicken production, and greenhouse vegetables.

Posted in Animals, Environment, Nutrition | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Killer at Large

Posted by tinako on September 22, 2010

I just watched the movie Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat.  This documentary is a collection of interviews and clips from journalists, researchers, doctors, and public health figures regarding the obesity epidemic.  I must warn you that it inexplicably opens with graphic footage of an obese 12-year-old girl getting lipsuction.  I made the mistake of sitting down with my lunch to watch, and I don’t recommend that.  I think this scene would have been better later on in the movie, or perhaps not at all – I’m not sure what function it served.

However, once past that the movie was very good.  It returned frequently to the point first made in the film by Surgeon General Richard Carmona: people are frantic about terrorism, but obesity is much more dangerous.

The movie covers schools, and I enjoyed hearing what the vending machine rep said to a gym teacher who was trying to get vending machines out of his school.  The dire consequences of this act would be that 1. kids would get in their cars to drive to a store to buy the item they could no longer get in school.  On the way they would be killed in a car accident, and that would be on the gym teacher’s head.  Dire consequence number 2. was that instead of soda bottles with bottlecaps, the kids would have soda cups with lids, and the soda would spill all over the carpets.  I guess the gym teacher would have to live with that, too.  So, every kid in school would die and they’d have a whopper of a carpet cleaning bill.  Ultimately, money won out and the school would not give up the $1,000 that the kids were feeding into the machines.

Absolutely astonishing was footage of parents outraged that junk food was being removed from schools.  They staged demonstrations where they passed junk food in through the schoolyard fence to kids who were being deprived.

Other parents demonstrated against Sesame Street when Cookie Monster told kids that cookies were a sometimes treat and they should eat their veggies.  Parents and children marched with placards showing “C is for cookie, not carrots!”  More signs said “No carrots!” or showed carrots with the circle and line X-ing them out.  Of course, parents were handing out cookies to the kids as they all marched around.  ????

I loved the segment regarding the Shrek “Get out and play an hour a day” public service ad.  The documentary shows representatives from 8-10 processed food companies together with George Bush and the head of Human Services meeting to try to take some action on this obesity thing.  Did the representatives have any suggestions regarding improving the nutrition of their products?  Not that I could discern.  The outcome of the meeting was apparently the Shrek public service announcement, the industry’s typical shunting of blame to the exercise side of the obesity equation, to avoid any embarrassing scrutiny of the diet side.  Steven Colbert takes over from there, and I’ll leave you with him: Clip

Posted in Diabetes, Nutrition, Schools | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Forks Over Knives

Posted by tinako on May 27, 2010

Movie coming Summer 2010

Posted in Cancer, Cardiovascular, Diabetes, Disease, Menus, Nutrition, Osteoporosis | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »


Posted by tinako on July 23, 2009

I am not into violent movies or television.  For 20 years, when “Itchy and Scratchy” comes on The Simpsons, I calmly close my eyes and wait for the cutesy music and screaming to end.  This segment of The Simpsons always disappoints me, because while it is possible to satirize, for example, a corrupt mayor without actually being a corrupt mayor, “Itchy and Scratchy” lampoons violent cartoons by being a super-violent cartoon, causing all the usual problems such as desensitizing us to violence and the pain of others.  It makes me wonder what the real motive is for creating it or watching it.

So I was glad that the episode of Torchwood I saw last night, “Countrycide,” while filled with more body parts and close calls than I care for, showed very little actual violence.  I am going to totally spoil this three-year-old episode. Here is the synopsis: There have been 17 disappearances within an area in the country, so the Torchwood team, thinking it might be aliens, goes out to investigate.  They zero in on a seemingly abandoned town and discover people’s body parts lying around.  They find picked-clean carcasses in the woods, parts in a fridge, and parts in canning jars, and come to the conclusion that aliens have come to eat us.  Even at this point I was making the connection that finding human feet in the fridge was not all that much worse for me than finding the leg of a pig.  This is how I felt at a party when someone kept putting bowls of chicken wings down in front of me; to me, it was a bowl of arms.

It turns out, however, to not be alien monsters who are doing this, but ordinary country folk.  Once every 10 years the whole town butchers for food any passers-through in what they call “The Harvest.”  Good finally prevails and the townspeople are rounded up.  The Torchwood heroine is determined to understand why they do this, so she questions the leader.  I am not sure she understands his answer, which he whispers in her ear: “It makes me happy.”  I think to most non-vegetarians, this answer is probably incomprehensible.  “How can it make him happy to kill and butcher?  He’s just crazy.”  I noticed the featured reviewer at the wikipedia site linked above didn’t like the episode because he couldn’t relate to the “inhuman” bad guys.  “There was no humanity in this episode.”  But to a vegetarian, this answer makes perfect sense.  It is the summing up of the pack of answers we hear for the question, “Why do you kill animals, or pay someone to kill them?”  “I like the taste” is probably the number-one reason given.  For hunters, they will talk about being one with nature, family togetherness, the thrill of the hunt… whatever.  It all boils down to “It makes me happy.”  Knowing what I know about slaughterhouses, watching this hour of gore and horror and hearing the farmer sum it up with “It makes me happy” makes just as much sense as hearing it come from someone eating a burger.  I’ve been there, having eaten meat for over 20 years, and can understand the reason on one hand and the senselessness of it on the other.

I was reminded while watching this episode that Colleen has a podcast called Little Boy Pig which mentions The Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie.  She said she had never seen it, for the same reason I give above (and neither have I), but it also makes the slaughterhouse connection.    Check out Colleen’s podcast, which is probably less graphic than this posting.

It seems very likely that the Torchwood writer was aware of the connection with this famous movie, and I feel sure he understood the cannibalism/animal meat connection he made in this episode.  Of course, there were plenty of meat references, because we are certainly meant to be horrified by the cannibalism.  Various meathooks, the fridge, the canning jars, a character was threatened with a cleaver and told he would be bled dry like veal, a reference to tenderizing the meat, and the agony caused by buckshot.  But more than a simple “isn’t it gross when people are treated like meat” message, I think the writer was aware of the irony that it is a precarious position to be so horrified by this gore when it is one animal, humans, but to lick our lips when it is another.  The most telling reference, I think, was at the beginning.   The writer makes a point of having the Torchwooders stop by a lone hamburger stand in the absolute middle of nowhere, the most empty, desolate land you can imagine, to eat burgers on their way to this country butchery.  This isn’t a throwaway scene, and the burgers weren’t by accident – they talk about them and are uneasy.  I think the writer gets that the monster is not only one of us, it is us.

Posted in Musings | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »