Many of you may recognize that title as a line from a movie. It was one of the two great movies I’ve seen in the past few days, which seem to go together yet are completely different in style and content.
The first was an excellent documentary, Cowspiracy, which just came out in streaming Netflix form, in addition to DVD as well as a downloadable version on their website. This absolutely-must-see is not just an expose of the kind of cruelty that the human species is capable of and complicit in toward animals on a daily basis (as if that weren’t enough). It mainly focuses on the massive carbon footprint of animal agriculture (51% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions) and the fact that no one—not the powers that be, not the industry chiefs and spokesmen, not the current cattle flesh-food purveyors, not even the heads of major corporate environmental, household-name, supposed green groups, like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, NRDC or the rainforest action group—is willing to take a stand on or even acknowledge it. They were all too busy laying the blame for climate change on unstoppable oil companies, pinning all their hopes on renewable energies for everyone—all 7.4 billion and counting.
But as one interviewee pointed out, those energy sources won’t see the light of day in a big way for at least 20 years (sorry, we don’t have 20 years, people) and not until after 43 trillion dollars have been invested. Yet all we have to do, as this movie shows us (through the words of ex-rancher Howard Lyman and others) is stop eating animals today. (And stop breeding, I might add.) Problem solved. Then we just have to wait for the feed-back loops to play themselves out and hope that Mother Nature forgives us for our avariciousness in reducing all other animal life to fodder for our one-species-takes-all, suicidal free-for-all.
The issue of hunting was quickly laid to rest with the statement that back when humans may have been “sustainably” killing other species for their sustenance, there were only around 10 million people. Now there’s over 500 million on this continent alone. This is no time for a resurgence in popularity of the mindset that got us into this mess in the first place. We need to move forward, not back.
Meanwhile, a mouthpiece for the fishing industry tries to deny the ongoing collapse of fisheries across the globe by invoking a feeble economic analogy, hoping we’ll believe that every time they kill thousands of fish, they are replaced by even more new fish as if by some miraculous, infinite, deep-sea upwelling—like they’re only taking the interest, not the principal. The fact is, climate change is already warming ocean waters so fast that toxic algae blooms are rapidly replacing the traditional, edible phytoplankton—the basis of the ocean’s food chain. At the same time, run-off from animal agriculture is creating dead zones wherever once-fresh water meets the sea.
The other movie I saw recently (although it came out in 1977), Network, was also inspirational, in its own way. It summed up how I felt after watching Cowspiracy. Worked into the middle of the script were the lines of a newscaster run amok, who was trying to get the brain-washed, brain-dead sleepwalkers riled up by telling it like it is. It was the kind of shaking into reality that people need about what’s really going on nowadays.
Here are is a sequence from the movie wherein Howard Beale, a network anchorman played by Peter Finch (in an Oscar-winning performance), has mysteriously disappeared before he’s scheduled to go on the air with the evening news. He shows up just in time, stepping in from the pouring rain, wearing only his pajamas under a raincoat………………………………..
“—and, suddenly, the obsessed face of Howard Beale, gaunt, haggard, red-eyed with unworldly fervor, hair streaked and plastered on his brow, manifestly mad, fills the monitor screen.
HOWARD (on monitor):
I don’t have to tell you things are bad…shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter, punks are running wild in the streets, and there’s nobody anywhere that seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breath and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit and watch our tee-vees while some local newscaster tells us today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We all know things are bad. Worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything’s going crazy. So we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we live in gets smaller, and all we ask is, please, at least leave us alone in our own living room. Let me have my toaster and my tee-vee and my hair dryer and my steel-belted radials, and I won’t say anything, just leave us alone. Well, I’m not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad. I don’t want you to riot. I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to write to your Congressman. Because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and inflation and the defense budget and the Russians and crime in the street. All I know is first you got to get mad. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more. I’m a human being goddamn it. My life has value.’ So I want you to get up now. I want you to get out of your chairs and go to the window. Right now, I want you to go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell. I want you to yell: ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!’
[This is going out live to 67 stations across the country.]
HOWARD: (on monitor)
Get up from your chairs. Go to the window. Open it. Stick your head out and yell and keep yelling—First, you have to get mad.
(They’re yelling in Baton Rouge.)
HOWARD: (on monitor)
Things have got to change. But you can’t change unless you’re mad. You have to get mad. Go to the window, stick your head out and yell. I want you to yell: ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Right now.
(A distant thunderclap crashes somewhere off and lightning shatters the dank darkness. In the sudden hush following the thunder, a thin voice can be heard shouting.)
THIN VOICES: (off screen)
I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!
HOWARD: (on TV set)
…Open your window…
(An occasional window opens and from his apartment house, a MAN opens the front door of a brownstone—)
I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!
(OTHER SHOUTS are heard.)
I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!”
Now, substitute Howard Beale’s name for mine and exchange whatever he’s mad about for the issue we should all be talking (SHOUTING) about: the selfless message of animal rights and the conspiracy of silence that keeps 70 billion cows and other animals captive, as slaves, constantly bred and butchered as products of an industry that won’t even fess up to their enormous carbon footprint. To paraphrase Howard Lyman, it’s time to change—or else.
But first, you may have to get mad. If you’re not already mad—as hell—watch Cowspiracy.