A short commentary on watching the mock-umentary “Carnage: Swallowing the Past.”
I know I’m a few months late to the party (the film was originally release on March 19, 2017), but I finally got around to watching Carnage: Swallowing the Past this weekend. Have you seen it yet? The film is a witty mockumentary that calls attention to the consumption and exploitation of animals from the perspective of future generations. From the BBC site, the plot is described as follows:
Set in a utopian 2067, Carnage looks back at a time when human beings ate other animals.
For the young people of this time, the idea that their grandparents could have been complicit in a bloodbath of unnecessary suffering is wholly unimaginable.
The film aims to break the taboo around Britain’s animal eating past, whilst showing compassion for a generation, now seeking therapy to cope with the horror of their unthinkable actions.
Carnage combines archive with original drama and is narrated by Simon Amstell, who gives a unique comedic peek into a future where animals live equally amongst humans.
View the Trailer:
My high level reaction is that I thought it was hilarious! Within minutes I was literally laughing out loud. It poked fun at meat eaters and vegans, alike—but was it too playful as to obscure a deeper, pro-vegan message?
As ridiculous as it made vegans out to be (and, seriously, we’re kinda ridiculous a lot of the time!), it revealed serious atrocities of the meat and dairy industries. In this sense, be warned because it does show undercover and graphic imagery of animal agriculture, in addition to comments about rape and slavery.
The film mixes actually footage from throughout history with created film. It’s a tactic that is able to generate both shock and absurdity, which makes the film’s method feel effective and influential.
I didn’t love everything about the film. For instance, in a few instances, it describes a significant tenet of veganism but while attributing it to made-up characters (e.g., the fictional Maude Polikoff is credited for making the connection between sexism and the meat/dairy industry similar to Carol Adams’ belief; similarly, the term “carnist” was attributed to another character rather than ). With some actual footage and factual information, these ignored attributions felt like missed opportunities. My other complaint would be that the film ended rather abruptly. In fact, at 65 minutes, it felt rushed and seemed too short. I could have easily kept watching for another hour! The fast-pace, however, helped tie the timeline together tightly. The big picture was easily seen as the film neared its end.
Press has been largely positive of Amstell’s film.
Simon Amstell’s first feature-length film is not only hilarious, but puts a highly convincing case forward for veganism without once being preachy.
-Max Benwell, The Independent, March 18, 2017
Another review praised the technique.
The “preachy” trope hangs over vegans, but Amstell not once gives the oh-so-righteous air of an ethics snob. He makes the leap that vegans struggle with; self-mockery.
-Marcus Nield, Enviralvisions, April 15, 2017
In short, Amstell’s approach was hilarious in a way that vegan media has difficulty achieving. It was largely critical, yet has broad appeal to viewers. It’s a movie I would definitely recommend, and one I’d be happy to view again.
If you have the BBC iPlayer, you can view it online. I was able to watch it on YouTube (URL).