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Culture, Media

Thoughts on “The Ghosts in Our Machine”

I haven’t been blogging much lately, and it’s mostly because I’ve been so busy with work. It’s also because I’ve been feeling tired. And then I feel guilty that I’m not doing more, and upset that I’m so tired.

So now I’m blogging again, and what prompted my return was witnessing the evocative film, The Ghosts In Our Machine, which premiered this past weekend in New York City.

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This blog was created so that I could address topics in animal rights and veganism and have a conversation about it, because these topics need to be discussed more often, and more loudly.  Watching Ghosts took me out of my rut and snapped me back to my passion for animal rights. Unfortunately, talking about animals and how we use, abuse, and exploit them is not easy, mostly because people want to remain ignorant of the sources of their food, their clothing, their products. The lack of willing participants in the conversation of animal exploitation is  demonstrated in the film, which follows animal rights activist and photographer Jo-Anne McArthur. Jo-Anne’s agency informs her that her compelling and haunting images currently have no place in our rated PG media world. Her stunning photography, which has spanned over the last decade, takes us to the places the public isn’t supposed to go. We see the animals before they were turned into commodities; for example, the foxes at the fur farm before they would be slaughtered for fur. The audience is taken along with Jo-Anne and fellow investigators to some of these places, and it is tense, exciting, and saddening.

The film, directed by Liz Marshall, will doubtlessly nudge more people into a discussion about our relationship to animals.  Many people resist watching investigative footage from places such as factory farms because the videos are almost always depicting violence, horror — and honesty. Ghosts is remarkable because it also brings us to honesty, but does so without being overly gruesome or depressing about it. The film was not only beautifully shot, with gorgeous studies of our fellow sentient beings, but it also had just the right balance of emotion: I found myself moved by the imagery, but the film didn’t linger in dark place for too long. For example, throughout the film, Jo-Anne joins the animals at Farm Sanctuary to decompress and reflect on her experiences. These moments with the animals were absolutely lovely.

In the film, Jo-Anne calls herself a war photographer, and that description is on-point. Unfortunately, people want to continue ignoring the war because addressing what we do to animals would be an inconvenience to them. So when Ghosts comes to your city, please go see it, and bring a friend, and talk about it. Rethink your own relationship to animals. This contemplative film will be a great starting point to do so.

Related: In the film, Jo-Anne McArthur is compiling her book, We Animals. It’s been published! Beautiful work.

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About The Paw Report

I graduated from St. John's University School of Law in 2012, and am admitted to practice law in New York State. I was a member of the New York City Bar Association's Animal Law Committee for three years. I was born and raised in Rhode Island, but moved to New Mexico when I was 18. After dabbling in film for two years, I graduated from the University of New Mexico with a degree in Anthropology. I've been living in New York City since 2008, and currently reside in Brooklyn with my boyfriend and our two cats. I am a former organizer with Direct Action Everywhere - New York City.

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