30 Days: Animal Rights
(S03E03) "I think half of that is bullshit" - George the hunter
Normally, I would go into an episode about vegetarianism and animal rights with a pretty strong opinion. However, since this is 30 Days, I know I'm bound to see and hear things that will, at least, give me second thoughts, if not change my opinions completely.
When it comes to animal rights, I have always been somewhere in the middle. I think killing animals for fur is cruel but I don't have a problem with people who eat meat. I personally have an affinity for pigs, so I don't eat pork. However, I think chickens are stupid, so I don't mind some pollo asado now and then. I don't think cosmetics should be tested on animals but I have found a lot of uses for prescription drugs. As far as hunting goes, well, I think you get the point. This episode was tailor made for a guy like me.
When George the hunter meets his vegan host family, it's interesting to see him smile and act polite while his body language is completely defensive. To make matters worse, his first assignment is to dress up like a chicken and participate in a demonstration outside of a KFC. I, personally, found the demo a little insipid and it was clear that, if anything, it simply reinforced George's opinions about animal rights activists.
When George reports for his first day at the animal sanctuary, it becomes clear what his biggest obstacle is. George, like many people, is turned off by the shock tactics and the platitudes that are used by most animal rights groups. Spurlock does a great job of showing how and why their rhetoric falls on deaf ears.
When George's host, Melissa, buys a hunting magazine and flips through it with George, there is a glimmer of hope that she may be willing to see what George gets out of hunting animals. Unfortunately, she uses that time to continue to push her agenda on George who has already heard enough. I, personally don't have a problem with the kind of hunting George does. Bow hunting is definitely a skill and since he eats and mounts what he kills, it's not about the killing. Clearly, there are hunters who do things differently and some who are just flat out poachers but that's a far cry from what George is doing.
The episode's most informative scene came when George had a meeting with a neurologist who spoke to him in a way he could understand. Without spouting rhetoric, she explained that only 4% of all drugs that are tested on animals are eventually proven safe for humans. Moreover, she laid out viable alternatives to animal testing that made a lot of sense. It's too bad this scene was so short.
The real powerful stuff comes when George visits what he thinks is an innocent dairy farm. When he sees how the dairy farm abuses and neglects the calves that they consider to be a byproduct of the milking process he is visibly affected and the irony is palpable.
Just when you think it can't get any more personal, Spurlock works his magic and George visits an animal shelter. Again, the facts and the numbers are laid out for him in a rational way and it clearly makes an impact. When George sees that most of the animals in that shelter are killed because the owners simply didn't want them anymore, you can see the anguish in his face.
If you haven't already seen this episode I urge you to watch it if only for the last twenty minutes which include George adopting a calf and participating in an anti-fur demonstration.
In the end, the best thing that could have happened actually happens. George comes to an understanding and starts to question his own beliefs about animal rights. While he probably won't stop hunting or barbecuing, I seriously doubt he will eat a piece of veal or drink a glass of milk without at least thinking twice.