March 26, 2004
Last night, I sat down with my girlfriend, Amber, to watch Alejandro González Iñárritu's Amores Perros. I had been wanting to see the film for a while so I was pretty excited, but she hadn't really heard of it. I assured her that it would be a good film, but just as I was saying this the first scene featuring a viscous dog fight began. For some reason she is really averse to violence against dogs so she closed her eyes and asked me to tell her when the scene was over. And the scene went on and on and on.......then after a brief pause more dog fight scenes began. She exclaimed, "What is this, all about dogs being mauled?!" Not really knowing I said, "Of course not, just wait a minute." Well little did I know that the film more or less was about dogs being brutalized in one way or another, at least that was one of the major themes of the film. Suffice it to say that I ended up watching the film alone.
Now of course I don't enjoy or condone violence against dogs (or any animals), but I have to say I don't really get why people have such weak stomachs watching simulated violence against dogs. It's a movie, no actual dogs were injured. I'm not trying to single out Amber here, because I've heard a lot of people voice the same disdain, but it seems a bit strange that these are often the same people who are fine with watching humans being butchered in the innumerable ways we are used to in standard American films. I don't mind violence in films myself, but if you don't like blood and guts in film shouldn't you have less tolerance for violence against humans than against animals? If it's the realism that bothers you wouldn't you be more appalled by people getting killed? To me this is similar to the PETA people who spend money and do crazy acts of protests to protect animals. I hate the fact that animals are abused (and I should say that I'm a vegetarian, more for health reasons though), but shouldn't our priorities be to make sure every single human is fed and properly housed before we expend our energy on animals? Moral philosopher Peter Singer would label me a speciesist for priveledging the rights of humans over animals, and I think he's right to do so, but that doesn't really bother me at all. Animal rights in the West is a direct outgrowth of humanism, and it seems strange to me that those rights get extended to animals (and Gays...ooops did I say that) before humans are taken care of.
Anyway, I realize that people's aversion to violence against dogs probably has a lot to do with childhood attachments to pets etc., but it still doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Do check out the film though, it's really well done. I still haven't seen Iñárritu's new film, 21 Grams. Waiting for the dvd.