Watch the trailer for Your Mommy Kills Animals.
We felt a little bad when the lady working the concession stand at the Roxie seemed so startled we were getting butter on our popcorn -- but hey, the IndieFest documentary Your Mommy Kills Animals is a movie about the radical animal rights movement, so we can't blame her for thinking the audience would be in general staying away from dairy-based fats.
Your Mommy Kills Animals aims to present a scrupulously-neutral portrait of the current state of the animal rights movement, and ends up doing a very good job illuminating the diversity of opinion (or infighting) between various camps of activists: some support violent action, many don't; some support euthanizing animals, many don't; all are quite thoughtful, some say some really boneheaded things, and none of them really like PETA or the Humane Society of the United States very much.
We had no idea that PETA supports euthanasia, that the Humane Society of the U.S. is perceived as not having been very helpful during Katrina, and that animal rights activists had so much in common with mink farmers, after the jump.
The movie primarily focuses on the criminal terrorist trial of the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) group, which posted the names and home addresses of animal researchers online and urged people to intimidate them -- but also provides a brief history of the animal rights movement, the distinction between animal rights and animal welfare groups (in short, welfare groups support humane treatment of animals, where rights groups believe animals have autonomy similar to humans), an exploration of the fur industry, and the radical animal rights' position on Katrina, among many other topics.
The film is quite well-edited, and pretty much everyone (including the critics of the movement) comes off as intelligent and well-intentioned on the one hand, while on the other, struggling mightily to reconcile their good intentions with some indisputably-terrible things (animals being abused for one group, and and people calling for the execution of scientists for the other).
There's plenty of hypocrisy to go around (the vice-president of PETA relying on insulin tested in animals to treat her diabetes, the federal government's crackdown on animal rights activists while leaving pro-lifers alone), and wow, no one's got a monopoly on breathtakingly horrifying actions or on saying something so irritating that you want to strangle them right up there on the screen. The FBI tapping the phone lines of activists on the one hand, and activists putting the name of a 10-year-old child on a death list -- everyone agrees that protecting animals is important, and yet no one's really got clean hands.
Perversely, though, that gives pretty much everyone in this movie a sort of beleaguered sense of nobility. What really struck us in the end was how much everyone with a stake in the argument has in common -- and how tragically different people's opinions are. We were really taken by the juxtaposition of the SHAC activists stalwartly proclaiming that unilateral force by the federal government wasn't going to be able to stop them, and then a quick cut to a mink farmer's family whose minks were illegally released into the wild at a loss of half a million dollars, stalwartly proclaiming that animal rights activists weren't going to stop them from doing their work either.