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Thread: Vegan Documentaries

  1. #1
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
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    Vegan Documentaries

    So I brought this up earlier but it wasn't good form. Going forward I want to allow for greater freedom of voice but with a higher chance of critical but constructive examination.

    Anyway, a recent peeve of mine is what I wanted to call "shockumentaries" for their tendency to shock it's audience into submission or cognitive dissonance. Googling "shockumentary" shows that this perhaps is not the right name for this genre but it feels like somebody must have coined a word for it already.

    What I'm talking about is the ever growing trend of supposed "documentaries" that come at you with an agenda featured skewed science and hyperbole to make its case. Michael Moore might be a pioneer in this genre but since then we've had SuperSize Me, Food Inc, and now Forks Over Knives and that's just the more mainstream versions. I'm not even sure What The Bleep Do We Know or The Secret qualify but there are dozens more such examples featuring rawfood, newage hippie stuff and they are only obfuscating issues with emotionally charged rhetoric.

    Don't get me wrong, I was like Michael Moore's hugest fan back in the day. I have The Awful Truth series on VHS! I was also a huge fan of SuperSize Me and the like but now that I have a modicum of critical thinking faculties, watching that movie and others like it grates the hell out of me for the pseudoscience it propagates. What we need more than ever is getting critical thinking skills into the public's hands. I feel these movies make things worse when they set a caricatured example of how science is done. Then, if science doesn't support their agenda they go deeper still and invent conspiracies.

    This is especially troubling to me when animal rights people glom on to any media that supports their agenda. They celebrate movies and books that make exaggerated claims from a cherry picked studies that the common person could have no hope in ever parsing through on their own. It's weakening the movement and losing us good allies. It is one of the reasons why I left veganism in the first place.

    Anyway, anybody have any thoughts on the matter or other examples?
    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

  2. #2
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    Thank you for posting as you said you would in that other thread.

    Having only seen Supersize Me I'm not in a good position to comment but I think I do get your gist, where you are coming from, and feel your frustration. Before making any further comment on how I myself feel disillusioned and betrayed by some aspects of people's behavior in their unquestioning and dogmatic support of the two of the three pillars of veganism I consider specious (not to be confused with "speciesist"), or "coincidentally true only as generalities at best", I wonder if you would please elaborate on this (which I'm not sure I'm understanding your meaning exactly):

    It is one of the reasons why I left veganism in the first place.
    Do you still adhere to a diet free of animals and animal derivatives, whenever practical and possible, and just don't like using the word "vegan" because of some negative connotations associated with the word and the people who call themselves this? Or do you now eat animal compounds in some circumstances? [Sorry if you've already addressed this in some other thread, perhaps in the last forum, but I must have missed it.] Thanks.
    Last edited by Mahk; 03-08-2011 at 03:01 AM.

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    P.S. Just to be clear, I'm not trying to sound judgmental or anything (I hope I didn't come off sounding that way), whatever you do is fine by me, but in text only communication problems like this can sometimes occur [Even if I attempt to use emoticons frequently.]

    I welcome diversity to the forum and think it is great for us to be a community with differing views.

  4. #4
    Plant-Based Person Lentil's Avatar
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    I actually haven't seen any of those documentaries. If I'm going to watch one of them, which do you think is the best example? Or..which is the shortest? Preferably available on Netflix.

    I thought this thread was going to be about Earthlings, Meet Your Meat, etc. I haven't seen those either, but I have a real problem with the idea of shocking, shaming or guilting people into becoming vegetarian. I don't think people need to watch graphic videos of slaughter to understand that killing animals is wrong and unnecessary.

    I'll probably post more later, but good topic!

  5. #5
    Plant-Based Person Lentil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mahk View Post
    Do you still adhere to a diet free of animals and animal derivatives, whenever practical and possible, and just don't like using the word "vegan" because of some negative connotations associated with the word and the people who call themselves this? Or do you now eat animal compounds in some circumstances? [Sorry if you've already addressed this in some other thread, perhaps in the last forum, but I must have missed it.] Thanks.
    I'm curious about this too. But, maybe it deserves a new thread, if you want to talk about it, Dandelion. I won't presume to start one myself, since I don't know how to appropriately phrase it to keep things from turning into a "how vegan are you" contest..!

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    ^Answer: "Level five". I cast no shadow.

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    we are borg grog's Avatar
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    The masses, in general, are dumb, and are often swayed by pseudoscience in regards to anything(late night infomercials anyone), so does that make it a tactic offlimits for veganism?
    Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? - Gandalf the Grey

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    Plant-Based Person Lentil's Avatar
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    I guess I have a little more faith in the general public. I feel that their reasoning and compassion may be atrophied from lack of use, but with proper encouragement they could be re-engaged.

  9. #9
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mahk View Post
    I wonder if you would please elaborate on this (which I'm not sure I'm understanding your meaning exactly):
    Quote Originally Posted by Lentil View Post
    I'm curious about this too. But, maybe it deserves a new thread, if you want to talk about it, Dandelion. I won't presume to start one myself, since I don't know how to appropriately phrase it to keep things from turning into a "how vegan are you" contest..!


    I probably shouldn't have added that. I don't wanna go too off topic and it's probably best for a new thread. I'll do that and it does need to be appropriately phrased...lemme think on that.
    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

  10. #10
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lentil View Post
    I actually haven't seen any of those documentaries. If I'm going to watch one of them, which do you think is the best example? Or..which is the shortest? Preferably available on Netflix.

    I thought this thread was going to be about Earthlings, Meet Your Meat, etc. I haven't seen those either, but I have a real problem with the idea of shocking, shaming or guilting people into becoming vegetarian. I don't think people need to watch graphic videos of slaughter to understand that killing animals is wrong and unnecessary.

    I'll probably post more later, but good topic!
    Good point. There indeed are sub-genres which deserve to be identified and discussed.

    There indeed are shockumentaries in the traditional sense (but not for pleasure) like Earthlings and Meet Your Meat. I relied heavily on Meet Your Meat in my vegan advocacy days and I know now Eathlings is the new shock video for advocates. My review of Eathlings wasn't favorable mostly because the narration bordered on nonsensical and they showed random acts of violence on animals in the same way you might watch a Faces of Death where psychopaths or murderers commit acts of violence upon other people. Would a human rights activist show Faces of Death as an example of why humans rights need to be protected? I guess maybe if it was showcasing acts of genocide, I dunno. That would be in pretty poor taste though.

    In that sense I agree with you Lentil, I don't think it's necessary but I'm still not sold that it's unacceptable because that stuff really does go on and people should know. I dunno but I do think arguments can probably be more effective without relying on these types of shock value ploys. That's another reason I think veganism is faulty (shoot, there I go again) because it favors tactics for quantity over quality.

    With Meet Your Meat I got alotta "what about humane meat" questions. People clearly don't want animals to suffer but will smashing that button bring about a realization of an animal's interest to life?

    Anyway, what prompted me to start this thread were the pseudoscience approaches like the more recent Forks Over Knives which debuts this month supposedly. It's been prescreened amongst the choir and apparently it's the China Study in movie form. A book even vegan RDs won't touch with a ten foot blog. That doesn't matter for most because it echoes their sentiment so it must be true!

    SuperSize Me might be a good example to ease into. It's not blantantly newage or shocking or agenda riddled. It more like a dumb guy blundering through a poorly thought out experiment. With your superScienceSense it'll be obvious what's going on but when I watched it as a credulous disciple of veganocity I was sold.
    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

  11. #11
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grog View Post
    so does that make it a tactic offlimits for veganism?
    Nice, it does not. Veganism wants people vegan so these tactics are absolutely not offlimits.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lentil View Post
    I guess I have a little more faith in the general public. I feel that their reasoning and compassion may be atrophied from lack of use, but with proper encouragement they could be re-engaged.
    I also have faith that the general public has some reasoning in there somewhere. It just requires some finessing to cultivate. That won't happen when activistS are otherwise consumed with veganism as the goal. That's more of a byproduct.
    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

  12. #12
    smooth operator beforewisdom's Avatar
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    It is very hard to argue against a vague generality.

    I have seen a lot of wacky health claims made by some vegans on some vegan web boards. I agree with you, it is out there.

    The questions I would have in conversations like these are

    1. What is the specific claim that is at issue?

    2. Is the claim or counterclaim a matter of controversy between professionals with education and research experience in that field?

    3. If #2 is the case, has the person making the counter-claim or claim read all of the references to all of the evidence available?

    4. Does the person making the claim or counter claim also have a formal education in that subject and research experience? I think this is important because it takes education and experience to properly understand what any given study means.

    I don't mean any disrespect to you Dandelion, but I thought it was significant that you were originally going to post similar thoughts in the thread I started about giving help to the people from "The Milk Documentary". That seemed very much to me like judging a book before reading it. I thought it was admirable that you chose to remove your post from that thread.

    Again, no disrespect to you, but it seems like you are stuck on the idea that vegans are full of shit. A lot of them are, but not all of them are.

    In regards to "The Milk Documentary" I'm interested in seeing it because it has interviews with experts having formal educations in nutrition and research experience presenting views that another group of vegan experts with research experience disagree with.

    Since I don't have a formal education in nutrition or science nor research experience, I don't think I am qualified to judge either side. So I am interested to see what they will have to say when rebuttals are made. I know that two such vegan experts are working on a nutrition book that disagrees with some of the stronger claims made the other vegan experts in this and other documentaries.

  13. #13
    Plant-Based Person Lentil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dandelion View Post
    Anyway, what prompted me to start this thread were the pseudoscience approaches like the more recent Forks Over Knives which debuts this month supposedly. It's been prescreened amongst the choir and apparently it's the China Study in movie form. A book even vegan RDs won't touch with a ten foot blog. That doesn't matter for most because it echoes their sentiment so it must be true!
    Ugghh..I think I'm actually going to have to read that book. Even though I'm pretty sure it's just going to piss me off.

    SuperSize Me might be a good example to ease into. It's not blantantly newage or shocking or agenda riddled. It more like a dumb guy blundering through a poorly thought out experiment. With your superScienceSense it'll be obvious what's going on but when I watched it as a credulous disciple of veganocity I was sold.
    Thanks - I'm going to try to check it out sometime soon!

  14. #14
    half a block from Normal Emiloid's Avatar
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    I'm lost... what's wrong with The China Study? I read it and thought it was very informative, rational, and scientifically-supported. Not to be off-topic.

    As far as documentaries go, I'm looking forward to someday seeing the new version of Peaceable Kingdom. Also, I think there is a place for shocking people with graphic information about what animals go through. It's not that I think people should be shocked, or that it's the only or best way to reach people. It's just that people are sheltered from these things both by the industry and by their own choice, and if you show people the truth, it's bound to be shocking. However, no one is making it shocking and horrifying--it just is. Well, for most people, anyway.

    BTW, think this works best in movies that show factory farms and slaughterhouses in a larger context, like Peaceable Kingdom does, or maybe Food, Inc (I don't remember). Similarly, there was a scene in Baraka (I think) about egg production that really affected me when I saw it, though I didn't go vegan until much later. That scene wasn't especially graphic, but it was certainly unpleasant and shocking. I just didn't realize at the time how common the practices were. I think it showed sexing and debeaking... and maybe a silo-style egg factory in action.

    eta: The Witness was very moving without relying on graphic scenes.

    Also, I found this list which seems useful: http://www.all-creatures.org/articles/video.html
    Last edited by Emiloid; 03-08-2011 at 06:35 PM.
    wocka wocka wocka

  15. #15
    Plant-Based Person Lentil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emiloid View Post
    I'm lost... what's wrong with The China Study? I read it and thought it was very informative, rational, and scientifically-supported. Not to be off-topic.
    The problem is that every time I hear someone quote or reference it, they are saying something totally nonsensical. The book itself might be good - I don't know. I just reserved it at the library, but it'll probably be a couple of months before I get it.

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