/' http-equiv='refresh'/> Vegan Outreach Lincoln and East Midlands: Review of Unity, Shaun Monson's follow-up to Earthlings


Review of Unity, Shaun Monson's follow-up to Earthlings

Unity is Shaun Monson's long awaited sequel to the 2008 film Earthlings. An animal rights staple you have likely heard of, Earthlings, narrated by actor Joaquin Phoenix is now largely seen as the go to film for a reality check in how humans exploit and kill other animals.

We were fortunate enough to attend the World Premiere global event, although the local cinema was sparsely attended. It was notable how this film is much more anthropocentric than it's predecessor, giving only 14 minutes of it's lengthy running time to other animals on this occasion. That said it did offer two affecting, non gory scenes of a bull being led to slaughter and a live fish being consumed as "sushi."

A recurring problem here is the false distinction the film makes between humans and other animals. Ironic given the wish to present Unity. "Plant rights"  are commonly used as an anti-vegan cliche and here it is suggested that their moving towards the sun is a sign of their sentience and often the film maker includes trees in the trio of classifications, alongside humans and (other) animals. This is problematic given that plants aren't sentient, although they are of course host to and important to the survival of sentient beings.

The film relies on a celebrity narrator format, each one (Helen Mirren, Jennifer Aniston etc) taking a few lines. The words are subtitled and the celebrity's photograph is displayed each time. This device proves highly distracting, taking away from the onscreen action. Also it was made clear that the celebrities in question didn't necessarily believe in the content they were reading out, this was a distraction also.

Promo Poster Problems: Humans, animals, trees and celebrities.

Celebrity culture and it's many egos (Michael Jackson, Kanye West and Lady Ga Ga are the examples used) is belittled as shallow and vacuous. This is strange given Unity's reliance on celebrity narrators, the subsequent celebrity Q&A panel and the red carpet premiere in the USA was full of the usual paparazzi and posing.

The subject matter flails around wildly, one minute we are pondering how tiny we are in the Cosmos and the next pseudo-scientific spiritual ideas are being proffered. Baseless statements are made such as observing "the joy of life" in other animals' eyes as they battle for survival. There is also stigma against sharks and their aggression, almost attributing some nefarious intent on their part.

The film contains no mention of veganism as a response to speciesism nor any suggestions on how to achieve the grand ambitions that Shaun clearly possesses. Nor is any time given to the many problems posed by human population growth. A wish to unify 7.4 billion humans (A predicted 11.2 billion and rising in 2100), from distinct cultures on an ever more ecologically degraded planet, with fewer and fewer remaining resources seems to be an empty and toothless fantasy.

As a whole the film was an unsatisfying mishmash of ideas, although it may be of interest to those who would describe themselves as "new age" or otherwise "spiritually" inclined.

No comments:

Post a Comment