Pignorant TV/Web/NT, 2024, 4 stars

Required viewing

If you eat pork, see Pignorant

Exclusive to MeierMovies, May 30, 2024

More than 1 billion human children are imprisoned, slaughtered and eaten each year.

Of course, that’s not true – but it could be if humans were not the planet’s dominant species. The comparison is apt because pigs are judged to have the cognitive ability of a 3-year-old child.

If that metaphor didn’t grab your attention, how about this: Nazis sent millions of people, mostly Jews, to gas chambers in World War II. Those crimes are often considered, rightfully so, the worst in the history of humankind. Yet most of you reading this article are guilty of, or at least indifferent to, a crime of even larger proportions, the annual slaughter of 1.3 billion pigs. And thanks to “advancements” in technology, most die in CO2 gas chambers, not completely dissimilar to the Holocaust.

The horrible metaphors are mine, but they are inspired by Pignorant, directed by and starring Joey Carbstrong. In his new essay-style, first-person documentary, the animal activist, vegan, social-media influencer and, oddly, former gang member infiltrates a slaughterhouse in England to document the living (and dying) conditions of pigs, specifically how the animals react to the supposedly humane slaughter method of gassing.

The findings are worse than one could imagine, proving damning not just for the slaughterhouse itself but everyone involved in the farm-to-plate process. Most shocking is the culpability, both moral and financial, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), often regarded as the world’s most reputable animal-rights organization.

The film documents Carbstrong’s lengthy efforts to expose the horrors of factory farming and includes interviews with experts and the average “man on the street,” but it centers on his plan to plant his cameras in a prominent abattoir. Assisted by fellow activists, one of whom secures a job at the factory, Carbstrong takes his life in his own hands, risking not just arrest but death if the mechanical gas chamber activates unexpectedly.

Admittedly, Carbstrong has a knack for showmanship, and one occasionally feels he might be exaggerating his safety threat. One also gets a sense he is sometimes just as focused on promoting himself as the pigs he’s working to protect, in a style akin to Michael Moore. But those are fleeting concerns given the essential nature of this documentary and the compelling, as-it-happens structure. And while the doc is overscored and frenetic, those might be stylistic choices designed to simulate the anxiety a pig feels as the end of his or her life approaches. That freneticism, along with the hellish images, certainly boosted this critic’s anxiety over the film’s 100-minute runtime, making the movie both the worst and best documentary I have seen this year.

Not content to advocate simply for kinder care of animals prior to slaughter – as was mostly the case in Eating Animals, a comparable doc from 2017 – Pignorant concludes its argument by asking us why we need to eat pigs at all. Do a few minutes of taste enjoyment override the right of sentient beings to exist? If you eat pork – or, indeed, any meat – that is the question you must ask yourself. And if you either refuse to answer or have no interest in Pignorant, you just might be a sociopath.

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For more information about this movie, visit IMDBThe film is now streaming on Amazon Prime.