I Am an Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA Reviews
It is sad that Peta finds it ok to exploit people (such as women, even willing) as props, yet they fight adamantly against the same treatment of animals.
Objectification of animals AND people need to BOTH end.
I am for basic animal and human rights, but of different means I guess, & hopefully a good end.
As a vegan Catholic and a conservative (a rare breed indeed, judging by my totally unsuccessful Facebook group), I have mixed opinions about Newkirk (I was about to say mixed feelings, but I realise I like her very much.) She is an atheist- because of the problem of evil, which I find to be the least unreasonable motive for denying the existence of God, though it is a bad reason anyway- and favours euthanasia for sick animals, which I am not sure is much better for them than it is for humans. However, I am not sure I would criticise either her methods or her temperament. In fact, I was surprised by the level-headedness and the professionalism of PETA as shown in the documentary (all the more so as the movie poster makes Newkirk look like a raving maniac, which she isn't.) You don't get the impression that they are a bunch of agitated leftists, fueled by a pathological anger and a completely distorted view of facts, and prone to use counterproductive strategies because they are deluded about the way the world works. On the contrary, I was impressed by their ability to prioritize, their efficiency, and the obvious compassion that motivates them. In fact, I am not sure that, being confronted to the same kind of horrors and bad faith that they encounter everyday, I would be able to maintain such composure.
One example of Newkirk's sense of priorities is her decision not to obsess over a rather marginal case of a man mistreating big cats in a squalid breeding plant and to focus instead on the annual slaughter of turkeys for Thanksgiving. It takes guts to challenge the majority of meat-eaters by defending an animal they despise and routinely kill rather than make a fuss about some convenient, isolated scapegoat which makes everybody feel good by comparison.
My only problem with the documentary is that it enables several people from various animal welfare organisations to criticise Newkirk's methods, but it does not give us any information as to what their methods are and how effective they are compared to hers. I personally understand the rationale for Newkirk's stunts. As she says herself, we live in an age of sound bites when most people will not listen to an extended argument and you have to come up with very short, simple and striking messages. The fault is not with PETA, but with the debased intelligence of our media and of the audience they generate. As for the Jewish ADL's contention that the parallels between animal exploitation and the Shoah "trivialise the Holocaust", well, it all depends on how trivial you think the ongoing annual slaughter of billions of sentient creatures is.
Newkirk herself has a few reservations about the film, but they are minor. For instance, the HBO crew missed a few opportunities, such as documenting her 24 hours in jail after the Jean-Paul Gaultier stunt (for which they used washable paint, which the documentary does not say.) So it seems that the only thing wrong with the film is that it is simply too short.
As with most documentaries on the animal problem, "I Am an Animal" does show quite a few very disturbing images of animals being abused. I must confess I closed my eyes once or twice, as words and abstractions are enough to convince and motivate me, and it may take me weeks to recover from such gruesome images (which is what happened with the twenty minutes or so of "Earthlings" I have so far been able to watch.) But if that's what you need to start caring and go vegan, I suggest you leave your eyes open.
It is horrible how animals are treated in this day and age, and someone needs to do something about it. At least these people at PETA have to strength to do something to help those without a voice!