If you love animals – or if you’re just a lover of good stories – then rent Netflix’s original movie OKJA. Here’s a summary:
For 10 idyllic years, young Mija has been caretaker and constant companion to Okja – a massive animal and an even bigger friend – at her home in the mountains of South Korea. But that changes when family-owned, multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation takes Okja for themselves and transports her to New York, where an image-obsessed and self-promoting CEO has big plans for Mija’s dearest friend. With no particular plan but single-minded in intent, Mija sets out on a rescue mission.
The bottom line here is that OKJA is a genetically modified pig that the Mirando Corporation has created – along with thousands of others like her – for food. Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain)plays Johnny Wilcox, the face of the Mirando Corporation, a drunk zoologist and fading TV star who detests his job but is so morally compromised he can’t help himself. Tilda Swinton plays the head of Mirando Corp – a nut case by any definition of the word. But the real stars of this film are a young Korean actress Seo-Hyun Ahn and her friendship with the lovable and intelligent OKJA.
The friendship between these two speaks to the friendship all animal lovers have with their animal companions, with wildlife, and is reminiscent of Babe, the Pig, but larger in scope and far more emotional. By the end of this movie, Megan and I were sobbing and I am seriously reconsidering becoming a vegetarian.
For several years in the 1990s, Rob and I became lacto-vegetarians. We still ate eggs, cheese, and fish, but no other meat. This came about as a result of listening to Diet for a New America as we crossed the Hopi reservation. I think it was during that trip that I had my last hamburger – at a restaurant on the reservation. I can’t say I’ve missed them. Or hot dogs. Or steak. Or pork. My body, in fact, developed an allergy to beef, something I discovered when, a year into this new diet, I had some soup that turned out to be beef-based, and got violently ill.
When my dad moved in with us during the late nineties, he asked if we could eat something other than fish and veggies and fruits. So we re-introduced chicken and turkey into our diets. But after watching OKJA, I’m going back to that lacto-vegetarian diet. It means finishing off or giving away the turkey paddies and chicken in our freezer, but after watching this movie, I don’t think I can even look at meat without feeling nauseated.
The real beauty of this movie, though, aside from the human/animal love, is that it illustrates the lengths to which each side goes to perpetrate their cause. The corporate guys are as morally questionable as the animal activist groups and the techniques they employ to accomplish their agenda.
And yet, in the end, the real message is about the power of love between human and animals.