Friday, December 03, 2010

I Ate My Father-Pig! Where Are My Calming Meat Goggles?!

Topical TV shows coax humor out of horror

Just wanted to clue you into a couple of random animal-related comedy snippets from this week’s television programming. First, check out this bizarre and disturbing 30 Rock clip:

I found this scene both funny and devastatingly poignant at the same time. Poor Kenneth—and poor Harold! Here this paternalistic pig essentially raises a fatherless boy, but the Parcell family betrays his loyalty and love by selling him for slaughter. And then, Kenneth himself backstabs his porcine pop by eating Harold’s cooked corpse for prize money, including his face (i.e., his identity). Truly, this is a killing joke, which is why it is so painfully amusing.

Sadly, the way Kenneth feels about his “Father-Pig” is how I feel, deep-down, about every animal killed for food. That’s because each one was someone, the subject of a life, and our evolutionary kin—and eating them is a form of incestuous cannibalism. I think the main reason that people are able to continue consuming meat is that they either don’t accept or can’t admit that animals actually experience emotions, including heartache and loss.

Perhaps only those of us who’ve had the privilege of knowing animals personally can fully appreciate the multifaceted pathos of Kenneth’s trauma. I assume that most readers of this blog already know that pigs are at least as sensitive and responsive as the dogs, cats and other companion animals with who we commonly share our homes and lives. It is this connective understanding that makes the eating of pigs or any other animals unthinkable to us. Of course, acclaimed actor Alec Baldwin (aka Jack Donaghy) already understands this, because he narrated PETA's Meet Your Meet video.

And now, this crazy clip from The Colbert Report:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Cheating Death - Calming Meat Goggles & the iThrone<a>
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

One of the things I love about watching TCR is that I can laugh while learning about science, politics and other current events. This red meat study, for example, is absolutely factual, with the results being completely contrary to the researchers’ expectations. That is, they hypothesized that test subjects would become more aggressive after looking at pictures of meat, but the exact opposite occurred. They subsequently theorized that the reason for this is that, just like our primitive ancestors, we associate food with the pleasurable security of eating with our accepted social group.

Speaking as a vegan, however, the sight of meat doesn’t calm me—actually, it makes me extremely anxious. That’s because, as a vegan, I see meat clearly for what it is: the putrefying flesh of animals who were tortured and murdered. When I see meat, I automatically visualize animals being executed en masse, and empathize with the lifelong suffering they endured on factory farms and the abject terror they felt as they were herded to slaughter. In fact, it’s such a reflexive response that I have to consciously switch it off just to function in “normal” society.

Seeing meat also raises my anxiety alarm because I identify so personally with animals. I figure, if humans are willing to kill tens of billions of sentient beings a year just to please their palates, what’s the life of a measly little person like me worth? Not much, apparently, in a world where most everyone’s wearing Calming Meat Goggles.


  1. Well done Mat! It often takes a personal connection with an animal for a person to have empathy for animals. I guess that's why kids who hear a foreign language have an easier time learning a new language in adulthood. So far, cats and dogs are our "gateway" animals, as ambassadors to have humans be more conscious of "things" they eat. I wish humans had more contact and experience with animals that are on their plate while they are alive and happy, as opposed to only knowing them as slaughtered flesh for them to consume.

  2. I wondered how the report of feeling calmer when eating meat would effect vegans. Now I can sleep easy tonight. Oh well they can wear calming meat goggles. One of my cookbooks is "How it all vegan" by Sarah Kramer, Tanya Barnard. Wonder if Tonya is related to animal rights,vegan MD Neal Barnard? Don't want to jump to conclusions. OTOH it may be the only way for me to get to exercise.

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