Speciesism: the Movie Is Angry but Leaves Its Arguments Unexamined


In spite of his voiceover narration’s conversational tone, neophyte filmmaker Mark Devries lets his outrage speak throughout Speciesism: The Movie, a documentary about the ethics of consuming meat and dairy products. The film’s main contention is simple: Speciesism, the concept that people are more important than animals because they are more evolved, is wrong. That position is worth considering, but Devries does a poor job of feigning objectivity whenever he discusses it with talking-head interviewees representing his own perspective. He poses oversimplified questions to bioethicists and farmers, as when he wonders if it’s only “natural” for people to eat meat. He also repeatedly cuts his subjects off when he loses interest in their opinions, and even dubs over their interview footage, as when he calls a representative of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum for Tolerance “a regular speciesist.” As a result, many of the assumptions that Devries’s arguments are based on are left unexamined, like his mostly unqualified comparison of the treatment of animals at family-run farms and factory-controlled farms. Ultimately, Devries seems to want to impress viewers with his anger. He repeatedly compares meat-eating to participating in the Holocaust and the slave trade. Your enjoyment of Speciesism accordingly depends on how you feel when Devries laments, “It’s almost like we’re consuming suffering.” If you disagree, you’ll definitely prefer a burger and shake to being ineffectually preached at for an hour and a half.