REVIEW | Simon Amstell’s CARNAGE

Available on  BBC iPlayer as of 9pm on the 19th March, a 70 minute long movie about the absurdity of consuming animal products might not be the first thing you’d expect from the BBC. Despite it being past my bed-time and very much too late to get stuck into such a film, I found myself unable to resist clicking the “play” button. The sheer excitement of finding a programme with the sentence “In a vegan future, we must atone for our carnivorous past” written underneath the blood spattered face of Simon Amstell as the first suggested title on BBC iPlayer’s homepage was just too much.

I spent the next hour and ten minutes sending my boyfriend a constant stream of quotes from the film – the fact that he was watching it at the same time and therefore didn’t require a running commentary of every word being spoken was not something I bothered to consider, I was too excited.

Amstell paints a picture of a world, 50 years into the future (2067), where the atrocities of animal slaughter are impossible to even comprehend for the younger generation who have never known such awful things to take place. The older generation are faced with the guilt of the actions of their past (why did they ever think forcibly impregnating a cow & subsequently slaughtering her baby so they could steal the mothers milk was okay?!). The “mockumentary” seeks to alleviate the shame of the former “carnists”, by teaching the younger generation that it wasn’t their grandparents fault – the slaughter of innocent beings was seen as “normal” and even encouraged by mainstream media campaigns; they simply didn’t know any better.

Featuring real footage from recent history & present day, we look on in horror as videos of burger eating competitions are spliced with slaughterhouse footage, as Nigella tells us how much “respect” and “love” she has for a chicken whilst she pushes down on it’s carcass and enthuses about the crunching snap of it’s spine.

The film is outstanding in it’s ability to simultaneously highlight the absurd nature of consuming animal products in a society that claims to “love” animals and in a world that’s facing the very real threats of climate change, whilst not coming across as aggressive or accusatory to your average meat and dairy consumer who might find themselves watching it. It is both hilarious and upsetting, educational yet silly, it pokes fun at vegan stereotypes whilst also defending them.

Carnists and vegans alike can take a lot from this film. It illustrates that in a world where veganism can often be viewed as somewhat “elite” or “exclusive” we can begin to break down barriers with education and humour. Whilst in many contexts vegans are still viewed as weird and/or annoying, this comedy gifts you the joy of conjuring up a future where all of our individual efforts worked to create a better, more compassionate and peaceful world for all.

Oh, to live in a world where we look back on 1944’s defining historical moment as the conception of the Vegan Society. Seeing the movement for a more compassionate world grow, with vegan ideals becoming more & more accepted (as proven by films such as this being given a platform on the BBC) gives us a sliver of hope that such a utopian future might not be such a crazy idea.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing – in 50 years time, how will we look back on our treatment of animals and our treatment of the planet?

I would love to leave you with some thought provoking quotes from the film, but for fear that if I start I will end up quoting the entire script, there is nothing left but to encourage you – whether you think vegans are just plain bizarre or you wholeheartedly support them – to watch this captivating comedy. Click here to watch it on BBC iPlayer now.

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