Winter Weekends are made for relaxing!

Hey folks! Hope that your weekend is treating you well. There is no denying that the weekend is the perfect time to relax and unwind. These weekend winter evenings are just made for curing up with a good book or stimulating your senses with a well made film or series. If you want to give your critical mind a workout these books, TV series and movie suggestions will keep you active even when you are vegging out.

Okja

A Netflix movie about ethics, the environment, science, and one girls love for her animal friend Okja- is a cinematic masterpiece with a through provoking message. The World’s population is growing and they need to be fed. Multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation has big plans to make food productivity more efficient and to reduce the environmental impact. The plan? A super ‘pig’. To make their GM product more palatable to the public they devise a 10-year marketing strategy where piglets are sent across the globe to be raised by small scale farmers. The biggest ‘pig’ wins a super-pig prize.

For 10 idyllic years, young Mija (An Seo Hyun)  is caretaker and constant companion to Okja-a massive animal and an even bigger friend-at her home in the mountains of South Korea. Mija lives a substance based lifestyle (some might call it sustainable living) catching her own fish, eating her own chickens, and making sure that she is a custodian of the ecosystems (highlighted when she throws back a small fish). She is not an animal rights activist, nor is she a vegetarian, but her bond with Okja is strong.

When Okja wins the prize for being the largest super pig Okja is sent on a journey to America to be lead to slaughter. Mija cannot be without her friend and embarks on a one-girl rescue mission across the seas. Not alone for long an animal liberation group joins in the rescue mission and the subtle layers of ethical complexities continue to present themselves. From the Animal Rights activist brutally assaulting their own group member for a failure to conduce themselves ethically, to the dream of a future where everyone has food as a result of science, there are no clear ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ in this film, just a very poignant presentation of thought provoking possibilities and realities.

To be clear, this is a cinematic and entertaining action film, however it is also a tale of how some of our large-scale food production systems work. It’s brutal in parts (even for CG) but it’s a well balanced exploration that allows you to draw your on moral conclusions.

Some say this is a ‘meat is murder’ sort of film, however I see it more as an exploration of how we choose what is an ethical way to tackle the sustainability issues we collectively face. It looks at the role that business, science, and technology play in creating an earth and people friendly future.

The ‘super-pig’ marketing campaign is a clever display of greenwash and the role that Tilda Swinton plays as the (slightly disconnected from reality) CEO of ‘big business’ gives an earnestness to the somewhat scheming marketing agenda. You believe that her character- Lucy Mirando- has a desire to be a catalyst for change in food production systems, and you know that her push for eco-friendly pigs and increased food production comes from a well meaning place. The rivalry between her sister and and herself and the desire for profits as a company somewhat override her ‘do-good’ approach but it does give heart to what is often presented as a ‘faceless’ food corp in other food based documentaries. Leading the viewers to again question what ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ means to them.

My big question in the end is did Mija return home to her subsistence lifestyle inclusive of animal products or was the ending hinting at a veggie lifestyle? What are your thoughts? Share below.

The Handmaid’s Tale

Wow! Where to start on this HULU epic series that’s finally streaming on Aussie screens thanks to SBS. In two words? ‘Disturbingly timely’. Before you carry on to read this and have your interest piqued please heed this warning. You can’t unlatch this series. It will stick with you! If this scares you enough please check out of this post now. If you are still curious read on.

The Handmaid’s Tale series is a modern adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, that is apparently so scary-real that the author is finding it a troubling watch. The series has been promoted as:

Set in a dystopian future, a woman is forced to live as a concubine under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship.

Which is a really fancy way of saying that in the face of a world of environmental degradation and declining fertility rates some people took in into their own hands to create a ‘sustainable’ future for themselves based on their belief systems. In this series religion has been used as a model for creating a new society at any cost. The costs in this case are women’s rights, morality, freedoms and kindness.

In a series of attacks within America, Christian fundamentalists spark a civil war that claims the United States as ‘Gilead’- a country governed by strict moral codes of conduct. The model of governance is successful at cleaning up environmental damage, reducing greenhouse gases, reverts farming to organic ways and produces fruitful agricultural bounties. It also aims to fight the decline in fertility by creating a system to produce children in the most efficient and low cost way for families that really desire offspring.

While this future sounds good on paper the realities are brutal, slavery, imprisonment, torture, and rape are just a small part of what makes this series glued-to-the-screen terrifying. While the gruesome and violent nature of this series might be what makes it a difficult watch for some. The justification of atrocities through personal adaptations of religious values and social norms is what made it so hard for me. Even more-so as the series drops at a time when we are seeing a resurgence in gender, religion, and sexuality based social and political agendas coming to the forefront of our media.

This won’t be a desirable watch for everyone but if you can bring yourself to do so, it’s can provide an important critical thought activity to assess your own values.

 

 

What makes a Good Life?

I wrote a post on Mark Rowlands book A Good Life: Philosophy from Cradle to Grave a little while back linking it to our decision making about what makes our clothing choices a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ decision based on our values. A Good Life is so much more than an exploration of shopping values. It is a tool for questioning our thoughts on life and the way we evaluate our thought processes. Critical thinking is one of the key tools we use as sustainable futures thinkers. Einstein put it best when he said:

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

While it’s likely that you – as someone this far into a post about ethics- my dear reader, are someone who is open to thinking ‘outside’ the box. You might even believe that you do read, watch, or interact outside your circles of interest on a regular basis. However our cleverly manufacture tools of e-knowedge and communication are designed to feed us more of what we love. Meaning that even if we think we have read information outside our realms of thinking there is a good chance a series of algorithms has send us the ‘outsider’ info because it directly relates to what we are interested in.

Books like A Good Life provide us with material that may make us uncomfortable. I know it forced me to question many of my foundation beliefs. It took me months to digest this read but I was really thankful for it’s ability to disrupt thought processes and cause me to question the ‘why’ of many thing’s I believed to be truth to me. Have you read it or something else that had the same effect? Please share below!

What is Good?

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself this question? When you do life can get a little bit perplexing. Good is really just a word, and as much as we spend our days trying to be it, feel it, do it or just hope for it, good is an intangible and ever changing idea. In What Is Good?  A.C. Grayling   takes on the philosophical and historic search for the best way to live.

When we start to break down what is is that defines our ‘best life’ we start to look at our values- what principles we want to live by and which codes we will use to guide our behaviour. With mixed messages, media, cultural norms and religious ideas our modern societies ideals of ‘good’ can change from country to country and one advertising campaign to the next. Heck- fashion is based on the idea of telling us what is good and what isn’t from trend to trend!

But what does good really mean? A.C. Grayling shows us, through What is Good, that to the classical Greeks, the acquisition of knowledge, the enjoyment of the senses, creativity and beauty were all aspects of life to strive for, and how this changed with the declarations of St Paul and his fundamentalist ideas on sin and human nature. From Greek poets to UN decorations on human rights there is a good chance that this book will have you rethinking where your ideas of ‘good’ began (and it’s far less brutal than watching Handmaid’s Tale, Okja, and less of a mental marathon than A Good Life).

What are your thoughts on ‘good’? What is good to you? Share your brain musings below!