I first heard of the movie Okja from my roommate Lysi, “I think you will really enjoy it Mao! After watching Okja, Jessie (our mutual friend) wanted to be a vegetarian.”
Jessie reached out to me just a few days later asking me all sorts of vegetarian questions. From what I heard, the movie Okja actually pushed many people over the edge to be vegetarians. As a bad vegan myself, a movie this powerful definitely piqued my interest. It is also a plus that Okja is on Netflix!
Quick Recap of Okja
Mirando Corporation is a meat company headquartered in New York City. In pursuit of profits, the company created the super-pigs, which are more cost effective, fatter and more tasty. In addition, the company sent 26 super piglets to different beautiful farms around the world and document the pigs journey. This is part of the company’s 10-year publicity stunt where at the end of the 10-year, they will select the best and most popular pig to bring to New York and crown it as the champion.
Okja is a super-pig that was sent to the mountains in South Korea, and she grew up with Mija, the protagonist who is now a 10-year-old girl. The story begins when the corporation selects Okja as the winner and is bringing Okja back to New York. Mija had no clue that was the plan all along. The plan was intervened by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), an animal advocacy group. ALF wants to use Okja to secretly take footages of Mirando’s cruel underground lab once Okja arrives in New York so they can use the footage against the corporation. Even though Mija just wanted Okja to be sent back to the mountains, she eventually had to go to New York to chase after Okja whose fate is all up in the air.
As a self-proclaimed bad vegan, this movie is touching and accurately portrays the world we live in in so many different ways.
The Scarce Bonds between Humans and Animals
The movie did a great job portraying the special bond between the fearless Mija and the super-pig Okja. In the world where everyone seemed to focusing on profits, including even Mija’s own grandfather who treats Okja more as an asset. It is nice to see this kind of unconditional love between the two.
It’s interesting that the super-pigs look like a combination of pigs, dogs and hippos. Okja definitely has those irresistible puppy eyes and flappy ears like dogs. At the same time the massive body reminds you of those cute hippos. All of the traits above definitely make it easier to pull the audience’s heart-strings.
Okja reminds me a lot of the family’s pet chicken when we lived in Shanghai. I enjoyed having a pet chicken where she would knock on our door every morning at 6 am for food. She also did weird shit like sleeping on random neighbor’s trees. The hen would lay an egg every morning and made a squeaking sound that would make you weak (in a good way) the moment the egg dropped.
Being a city boy all my life, I somehow lose touch with nature and animals. Especially being in Asia where we don’t get out as much. It wasn’t until 3 years ago when Sara brought our dog Buddy into my life which changed me. The bond I have with Buddy makes me enjoy the simply things in life.
Profit-Driven Corporations and Behind the Scenes inside the Company
A company’s number one goal is to make profit, unless it’s a non-profit company. Nothing new or wrong with that.
The Mirando corporation Okja portraits is a typical one. Well-dressed men and women who sit in beautiful high-rises in Manhattan who care about driving sales while enhancing its corporate branding. The attires and settings of the Mirando corporation definitely reminds me of the people from the Capital in the Hunger Games, which sheds the dark and negative sides of corporations.
The movie takes us inside the lab of the Mirando corporation which showed hundreds of super-pigs caged up for experiment purposes. Treatments that the super-pigs received were obviously a cruel one, including our very own Okja. This is where the audience would start to get quite uneasy seeing these behind the scenes footage.
This is basically the reality we live in. Not just meat production companies but many other companies such as cosmetic and fashion companies are essentially doing the same animal testings.
Mass Meat Production and Cruel Treatments of Animals
In the last part of the movie it shows the horrific slaughter-house where thousands of super-pigs were being put in an assembly line to be killed and processed. The crowded slaughter-house is filled with super-pigs who are screaming and fearing for their death. The sound of the gun killing the pigs is just as horrifying.
I am sure this scene gave many viewers heart burns. However, even though super-pigs are fictional, the scene they depict is not far from reality at all, if not the reality.
During the past year of my transition to a vegan, I saw just enough behind the scene footage like the one in Okja. After just watching a few of those videos, I had to unsubscribe because I simply couldn’t watch them anymore. Needless to say that it definitely accelerated my transition to a vegan.
Okja is a well-produced movie that is sending a message that’s dear to my heart. I think it is a great movie to raise awareness on animal cruelty and the meat production industry.
Now, I am not one of those crazy vegans who think that you should go to hell if you eat meat.
As a bad vegan myself, here’s what I would urge you to do and ask the following:
1. Do you know where the meat you eat come from?
Most likely your favorite Asian restaurant around the corner buys meats that are massed produced with little attention given to animal welfare.
2. Learn how the majority of the meats are produced by watching some of the behind the scenes videos
Even though it does get graphic, it gives you a reality check. If you are fine the way it is, that’s perfectly cool. At least you know. It kills me that most people don’t even know about the cruelty of meat production.
3. Try to cut down even just a little bit of your meat consumption
I totally get it if after learning how the meats were produced and the inhumane treatments of animals that you would still eat meat. But if you could even just cut down your consumption of meat one meal a week would make a huuuuge impact.
4. Hangout with animals more
My dog Buddy totally changed my life and my perspectives on many things. One of which being that it helps me to be more compassionate. At the end of the day we are all very similar. The question is, how can we make a positive impact for not only us but other animals too?
Have you seen Okja yet? What are your thoughts?