Don't Have a Cow, Man

This weekend we rented Fast Food Nation.  Yes, we’re a little behind in the movie scene, but we’re ok with that.  None of us were really sure what it was about, other than there were people that I knew that said that they wouldn’t eat fastfood again after that, so I assumed that there was some documentary type stuff in it (which there wasn’t).

For those of you who haven’t seen it, the basic premise is this:  There’s a fast food chain called Mickey’s that finds out that they have cow poop in their meat, due to inexperienced people who are seperating the intestines from the cow when they’re being butchered.  So a guy goes down there to check it out, and finds out that’s exactly what’s happening, but that no one will do anything about it.  It turns out that the meat packing plant is importing illegal Mexican workers, and giving them little to no training, and most of it is in English when most of them don’t seem to have a very good grasp on English.  The manager of the trim line is a total sleeze-ball, sleeping with all the illegal immigrant women, getting them hooked on drugs.  There’s also scenes where we see Mickey’s employees who want to rob the store and one who gets involved in an environmentalist/animal rights group.  So… it’s a miss mash of 3 or so different stories.

My main complaint was that there wasn’t enough cohesion.  The guy who comes to investigate the plant just goes home and nothing happens to him.  I guess they are showing that the middle man often won’t stand up for what’s right.  ::shrugs::  I guess that’s true, but it didn’t seem to end for him.  The girl who joins the enviro group… well, nothing happens to her.  With the illegal immigrants, after one guy gets injured and the girl gets transfered to the kill floor, the movie just ends.  I felt like they were filming and said “Ok, that’s two hours (or whatever), that’s a wrap!” and didn’t go any farther.  They had a good storyline about the male Mickey’s workers who were planning on holding up their own restaraunt, which was completely abandoned.  I thought that they could have done a better job wrapping it all up.  I guess their point was that this is the poor reality of some people’s lives.  I don’t know. 

My other main issue with the movie is how they portrayed the kill floor at the meat packing plant.  Yes, it’s a messy bloody job.  Yep, they do kill the animal in order to gut it and cut it all up.  That’s where meat comes from.  I thought that they seriously made it far too overdramatic, by the slower motions, the morose music, the long camera shots of the the cow skulls/blood/carcasses in general.  I guess it could have signified how the girl who had to go there felt about it.  I could understand that, but it seemed more aimed at grossing out the audience, of getting a reaction.

I used to work in agriculture (although not directly with meat, more of an administrative job), so that didn’t surprise me.  I didn’t have that shock of “this is what they do” that some viewers might have.  Hearing what some of my friends have said about the movie, though, it sounded like they never thought of it… that they forgot that beef comes from cows, who were alive before they became food.  It’s funny how when we see it on our plate, surrounded by other food, we often forget that it came from a living being.

Rob and I had a really interesting discussion afterwards on how it’s ok to kill/gut/skin cows (to society in general) but the similar mutilations to the outdoor cats in our city has everyone (in general) pretty upset.  I figured that it came down to jobs – a cow’s job is for food.  A cat’s job (so to speak) is for companionship and love.  It was a pretty interesting discussion, but it has apparently been on our minds, as it came up again last night on the way home.

I had seen a red fox running through a field as we drove by.  After “awwing” over it, Rob mentioned that it’s too bad that they hunt them in England.  I’m fully aware that they are a problem in England, as they are kind of awful animals who will sneak in and eat your baby animals, steal your eggs and other such things… so hunting them to most English people is not too terrible.  Then we started talking about fox hunts, and how they were being protested (outlawed?) when done with dogs. 

While I’m not completely uncaring, I just found it funny how we keep coming back to this topic.  I guess the movie made it’s point.