OKJA – the movie


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.

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8 Responses to OKJA – the movie

  1. C.J. says:

    Although my Dad was a cattleman, I stopped eating beef in 1987. My reason: my gallbladder was deathly toxic and beef was among the offending contributors. After having it removed, I just never went back to beef and haven’t had it in my mouth
    since. However, I tend to embrace the convictions of ancient Native Americans regarding food…..that the Gods created inhabitants of Earth in a symbiotic relationship; that all species are dependent upon each other in one way or another, and that animals and plants, etc. were created to sustain humans, as humans were (are) meant to help sustain them and to be grateful for the gifts of life that they offer us. Native Americans never wasted any parts whatsoever of, for example, a buffalo,
    eating the meat, using the fat for tallow, using the bones for various tools and weapons, making garments from their skin. Most importantly, I think, is that they performed rituals of gratitude to the plants and animals for providing their gifts of life.
    For me, a carrot is as animate as a fish,; an apple as viable as a chicken, and so forth.
    I’m a vegan, not by choice but due to medical issues, and I miss the “balanced diet” but will never again be able to consume it. I DON’T miss beef, however. It’s my theory that each person eats what foods his or her body superconsciously requires to maintain the good health of the body. Works for me!!

  2. Shadow says:

    ….I think the bond between animal and human is pure.
    Fish, veg and fruit plays a large part in our diet, chicken too, and came to be because we felt better, seems a logical path to follow then, right?

  3. Darren says:

    I read ‘Diet for a New America’ years ago and thought it was such a good book (at first) that I went vegetarian for about a year and it nearly killed me, because I had so much soy products in my diet that I found out after battling what appeared to be vitamin deficiencies in a vitamin rich diet I was eating that too much soy will block the intestines from being able to absorb vitamins from the diet.
    The skin on my face was literally red raw and itchy and peeling off and all the skin specialist would offer me was steroid cream for the fix.
    It was while Googling around for symptoms of my aliments that I found out I had multiple vitamin deficiencies and I couldn’t understand why, until I read an article about soy and how it stops the stomach from absorbing the vitamins in your diet.
    I went off all the soy products and went back to eating meat and in a few weeks I was pretty much as good as the old me.
    I figured after observing animals in the wild that meat eating is a part of the food chain anyway, so why should I be made to feel guilty for eating animals?
    There are certain animals I still won’t eat for personal reasons, but I have no problem eating meat that has been killed humanely (as far as I know) by middle men like butchers and fishermen.
    I can respect the vegetarian point of view (having been there myself for a year), but nature has been set up to be a kill and be killed world when it comes to animals eating other animals of the planet.
    Still with the world population going through the roof we will soon have to find sustainable ways to feed the world without destroying it…if we haven’t already destroyed it that is.
    Maybe I’ll have to start eating bugs, worms and allege in the future?
    Mm…fried bugs and worms. 🙁

  4. Carlos says:

    Looks good!

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