Speciesism: The Movie is where it all began. In late-2013, filmmaker Mark Devries released the world’s first documentary about speciesism. Scientific American‘s Michael Shermer called it “brilliant and compelling” while The Huffington Post referred to it as “tremendously entertaining and often laugh-out-loud funny.”
Speciesism: The Movie Synopsis
Modern farms are struggling to keep a secret. Most of the animals used for food in the United States are raised in giant, bizarre “factory farms,” hidden deep in remote areas of the countryside. Speciesism: The Movie director Mark Devries set out to investigate. The documentary takes viewers on a sometimes funny, sometimes frightening adventure, crawling through the bushes that hide these factories, flying in airplanes above their toxic “manure lagoons,” and coming face-to-face with their owners.
But this is just the beginning. In 1975, a young writer published a book arguing that no justifications exist for considering humans more important than members of other species. It slowly began to gain attention. Today, a quickly growing number of prominent individuals and political activists are adopting its conclusions. They have termed the assumption of human superiority speciesism. And, as a result, they rank these animal factories among the greatest evils in our history. Speciesism: The Movie brings viewers face-to-face with the leaders of this developing movement, and, for the first time ever on film, fully examines the purpose of what they are setting out to do.
The Huffington Post on Speciesism: The Movie
The word “speciesism,” which has been popularized by Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer, refers to the assumption that a vast gulf exists between the ethical value of human interests and the ethical value of the interests of other animals. At its extreme, we may see ourselves as the only species that matters morally, and view other animals as existing merely for our use: to eat, to make into clothing, to perform experiments on, to be entertained by in circuses and zoos. Like those who grew up having overt racist beliefs assimilated into their worldview, some degree of speciesism has been so well-assimilated into the worldview of most of us that it does not even appear to be worth questioning.
Of course, other animals possess the same five physiological senses that we do, as well as the capacity for a wide range of emotions. In her introduction to The Inner World of Farm Animals, Dr. Jane Goodall writes that “farm animals feel pleasure and sadness, excitement and resentment, depression, fear, and pain. They are far more aware and intelligent than we ever imagined . . . they are individuals in their own right.”
And Dr. Temple Grandin, in Animals in Translation, writes that “When it comes to the basics of life . . . [other] animals feel the same way we do.” She goes on to explain that both humans and other animals share both the exact same core emotions (“rage, prey chase drive, fear, and curiosity/interest/anticipation”) and the same “four basic social emotions: sexual attraction and lust, separation distress, social attachment, and the happy emotions of play and roughhousing.”
So, our worldview may be worth questioning.
Yet, the ramifications entailed in questioning our speciesist assumptions are tremendous: Our entire political discourse centers on how policies will affect humans. If we conclude that speciesism is not justifiable, our thinking about nearly everything in our lives will undergo a transformation.
Prominent philosophers and scientists have criticized speciesist assumptions for many years–in writing. But, as far as I know, these questions have never become the centerpiece of a film. Not only does Speciesism: The Movie ask these life-changing questions, but it does so while taking viewers on an adventure that is tremendously entertaining and often laugh-out-loud funny.
Devries goes to great lengths to put together a thoughtful and entertaining film–whether commissioning an airplane to fly over factory farms’ giant “manure lagoons” with an anti-CAFO Republican from North Carolina, or (somehow) scheming his way into receiving a guided tour of a factory farm.
Along the way, he meets and questions a remarkably broad range of people, including Peter Singer (whom the New Yorker has named “one of the most influential philosophers alive”), Richard Dawkins (the most influential evolutionary biologist of the past century), and Temple Grandin (designer of the animal handling systems used by over half of the slaughterhouses in the United States).
He also speaks with anti-factory farming activists, a man who is dying next to a huge hog farm, a current member of the American Nazi Party, a disability rights activist, a vivisector, quite a few people on the street, and more–all in his quest to thoroughly consider the philosophy that says that bias on the basis of species is unjustifiable. Disclaimer: He also spoke with me.
Above all, Devries confronts some very difficult and uncomfortable questions head-on. For example: How strong are the grounds for believing that humans have special moral worth? How valid are the comparisons between our use of other animals and the slavery of other humans?
For those unfamiliar with speciesism, there may be no more enjoyable introduction to this fascinating subject than Speciesism: The Movie. For those familiar with the topic, and searching for a way to introduce friends and family to the deeper questions, this film may be the perfect solution.
AXS on Speciesism: The Movie
You simply must watch “Speciesism: The Movie.” It is a movie about the widespread belief by humans that they are more entitled to a good life than all other species on the planet. This belief in human superiority has been dubbed “speciesism”.
In 1975, a book was published which argued that there are no rational justifications for considering human beings to be more important than other species on this planet. As the book gained attention, many prominent people and political activists, along with many members of the general public, have adopted this philosophy.
In this film, Mark Devries explores this belief and exposes the truth about factory farms that they try so hard to conceal from the public. The film does a great job of educating us and challenging our thinking about how animals should be treated.
Mark Devries’ film illustrates that most of the animals used for food in the United States are raised in large “factory farms”. These farms are mostly hidden in remote areas so that the inhumane and poor conditions are concealed from the general public. Devries crawls through bushes, flies in airplanes and engages in other adventurous tactics in order to expose the toxic conditions that animals are subjected to, including manure lagoons. The film shows face-to-face confrontations between Devries and the owners of various factory farms.
Those that have rejected the idea of human superiority and have adopted the term “speciesism” rank factory farms as among the greatest evils in human history. The film, Speciesism: The Movie fully explores this developing philosophy and movement along with its leaders. For the first time ever on film, Devries fully examines the purpose of what they are setting out to do.
Visit the official website of Speciesism: The Movie to learn more.