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On “Behind the Mask”

I finally watched "Behind the Mask" a couple of days ago. (Here‘s a different the trailer. Embedding has been disabled for some reason, and here‘s the official description of the film.)

My thoughts as a viewer and accidental documentary filmmaker are:

  • There is so much misinformation about the animal liberation movement, and it’s great to hear about what it is/was, who started it and why, and what these people’s stories are! Like when you read Terrorists or Freedom Fighters! or Igniting a Revolution, there’s much value in hearing the words of the people whom you agree or disagree with, as opposed to getting information second hand or making assumptions based on little information.
  • Therefore, as far as the content goes, I found it helpful and inspirational (as in, the words of some of the people interviewed inspire me) as well as cautionary (as in, apparently all you have to do is go to a demonstration or represent an activist in court or run a website in order to unwittingly submit an order for your very own surveillance team from the FBI).
  • From a production standpoint, the intention was to produce "the first ‘FUN’ animal rights movie" with "a different kind of action hero." This is where the filmmakers kind of lost me. The Mission Impossible-esque music and editing and effects of some sections made me realize that 41+ suburban writers aren’t the target market for the film. I wouldn’t call my experience of the film "fun," and I might even go so far as to say that the silliness of parts of it, which could have been done in a more dark, ironic way that might have been considered "fun" took away from the message.
  • It was the words of Rod Coronado and Kevin Jonas, and the story of Jill Phipps, told by her mother, that I found most moving.

Finally, I think about individuals who were saved and whose lives were worth saving, as well as the individuals who might have replaced them (and in many cases there were none, as companies were put out of business) and how their lives are just as worthwhile. And like before I watched the film, I am still conflicted, but I am also enriched by the experience of being a witness to the struggles of others.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. davedrum #

    While I won't comment on the documentary because I've yet to see it, I'd like to bring up a few things from your post today. In the description of the film it mentions how this man spent 11 years of his life in prison only to be released and went back to the same life of crime that put him there in the first place. Was 11 years of his life sitting in a cell worth it? Obviously to him he believes it was. What good came out of all he has done? Could he have saved just as many animals by creating one new vegan a year if he was out of prison that whole time (as there are quotes that say that each and every vegan saves approximately 96 animals per year). I believe that if he would have spent his time trying to reach out and educate others, turn people toward becoming vegan, that in fact, MORE animals would be saved than he ever did. That goes for ALL of the ALF types.

    I mean as I sit out here surrounded by the woods, with all the bugs and the animals… should I just rename my home and little compound here "Uni-Bomber Acres" in the name of another "terrorist" that thought that resorting to violence was the answer to create the peace he himself professed to wanting?

    Mary you stated at the end of today's post:
    "Finally, I think about individuals who were saved and whose lives were worth saving, as well as the individuals who might have replaced them (and in many cases there were none, as companies were put out of business) and how their lives are just as worthwhile. And like before I watched the film, I am still conflicted, but I am also enriched by the experience of being a witness to the struggles of others."

    You mention that in many cases there were "none" because some companies were put out of business. This is where I think many go astray when it comes to the faulty logic that comes with that way of thinking. If you take the big picture into light, does closing down a company that tests on animals save any? Does anyone have the statistics of how many animals are tested each year….say from 1980-2007? Animal testing has been rising and going up. To say it is not reminds me of Bush and his "Fuzzy" math. People continue to take more drugs and put more junk into their bodies….most, if not ALL of those "wonder drugs" and lubricants need to be tested. In this country (The former USA), the FDA requires the pharmaceutical companies to hire outside sources to test each and every drug they develop first on animals before human trials can be performed. So closing down one company does not let the drug companies off the hook as they try to get MORE of their drugs and lubes behind the counter on onto the shelves. They still are required by law to have these animal tests done. They will find new companies and give them more money to build bigger testing facilities. They'll have them done in other countries…but they will still be REQUIRED to test. I think many are looking for a solution by going after the WRONG party. Our tax dollars which fund the FDA are that ones that ultimately decide how many animals will be tortured raped and die. Perhaps sitting down with law makers and/or trying to elect ones that understand the nonsense of animal testing is a better way….but hey…what do I know…I hold wood in my hand and smack stuff for a living…way out here on Uni-Bomber Acres that is. 😉

    I also want to add that I do not think the all blame lies on the FDA. Of course one need not to choose to start a company or even go work for a company that tests on animals…yet I still know that if we closed down every single one here…we'd just find new companies in China or else where to do the tests. A Chinese dog or mouse is just as valuable a life as an American or European one. I'm waiting for a solution and someone to finally make those numbers go DOWN worldwide. So far… that has not been the case. To me it's just a case of complete failure. Failure for the animals we all say we love. Maybe there are some that just "get off" on violence… I just think there are better ways to save the animals we care about. Robbing Peter to pay Paul when it comes to lab testing is not the answer (meaing switching to a new company to do tests if the old one is closed down). Regardless of where the tests are done and by whom.. right now there are more animals being tested than yesterday…and more than last year and the years before that. Wish I had the answer as to how and reverse that trend… I just know in my heart that Violence is not working. I do not believe it ever has or it ever will…


    August 30, 2008
  2. Dave,
    Because I am conflicted, I do what I know I can do without feeling I might be making a regrettable mistake. I support PCRM and particularly DissectionAlternatives, as I know that that's one way I can contribute to the use (and development) of alternatives to using animals. And of course I boycott (a real boycott–as in–I'd go back to being a customer if testing on nonhumans were to cease). And I write letters to legislators, for whatever that's worth. It all feels mighty inadequate, though.

    I personally don't focus on closing down companies. I'd like to see the continued development of inexpensive alternatives (we're not quite there yet with some models) that are effective and efficient so that testing on animals is scientifically obsolete and looks like the ineffective idea it is. But given that this scenario is already a reality (albeit not well-known), what is it going to take the FDA to change its policy when there is a web of industries that financially benefit from continued use of animals? I don't smack stuff for a living, but I don't know either. (That's why I support PCRM–at least they have a plan.)

    August 30, 2008
  3. davedrum #

    I too have been a long time supporter of the PCRM. Over the past years I've turned many people onto them. Not only for their "alternatives" for drug testing, but for the great nutritional studies they've done showing that by one becoming vegan…that there are NO REASONS for one to ever have to TAKE any of those drugs to lower ones cholesterol or blood pressure, etc.

    I just wanted to make it clear that I too know of, and support the "alternatives" that are being developed and offered as a way to test these "harmful" drugs. Same thing with their continued pressure on Medical Schools to stop using animals in their labs to teach surgery techniques. I know all to well about it since one of my brothers is a surgeon and we've discussed the very things he was required to do in medical school…which really…gave no "real life" experience in doing life saving surgeries on those of us that belong to the "human" species…

    August 30, 2008

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