Chicken Run's "dark, concentration-camp-inflected imagery."
June 26, 2000 5:32 AM   Subscribe

Chicken Run's "dark, concentration-camp-inflected imagery." This new Nick Park film is entertaining, but like Newsweek's David Ansen I couldn't avoid viewing the bleak chicken farm (and neighboring slaughterhouse) as a Nazi death camp. Anyone hungry for a chicken pot pie?
posted by rcade (17 comments total)
-or hungry for a Spicy Chicken Sandwich? Burger King is sponsoring Chicken Run.
posted by plinth at 5:43 AM on June 26, 2000

i saw it this weekend, and at the very beginning when they show the farm i turned to my friend and said, "it's like a chicken auschwitz." it was one of those jokes you make in haste and feel sort of guilty immediately afterwards.
posted by bluishorange at 8:02 AM on June 26, 2000

The BK commercial theme is: "Save the Chickens, Eat a Whopper". Which raises the question: how long until PETA (whose motto must be "the only bad publicity is no publicity") adopts this movie for its "anti-carnivore" message? (But then, would there be an "animal rights" movement if we all hadn't grown up with movies like "Bambi"?)
posted by wendell at 8:07 AM on June 26, 2000

I haven't seen it yet, but I gather Chicken Run does what Charlotte's Web and Babe did for our porcine friends. (I'll ignore patron-saint-of-misanthropy Roald Dahl's "Pig", which is way too twisted to bear a simple don't-eat-pigs message.)
posted by snarkout at 11:29 AM on June 26, 2000

According to an interview with NPR last week, Nick Park has been eating more chicken since he made this flick.
posted by harmful at 11:33 AM on June 26, 2000

Oh, for Gromit's sake, it's a take-off of The Great Escape, right down to the American rooster in the role of Steve McQueen. If you're British, you grow up with it on telly every single Christmas, (along with "Bridge on the River Kwai" and "The Sound of Music) so the thing kind of burns itself into your subconscious.

On a darker note, the McLibel case revealed the horrific condition in which most broiler chickens spend their short lives. My mother's generation regarded chicken as a once-a-week luxury (they ate beef and pork most of the time) and the ubiquity of chicken on the menu these days isn't necessarily a good thing: she tells me often enough that chicken no longer tastes of chicken. Which makes me wonder why everything else does...
posted by holgate at 12:10 PM on June 26, 2000

I've read there's also a sly reference to "Stalag 17" in "Chicken Run" (which I haven't seen). Isn't the chicken house labelled "#17"?
posted by Steven Den Beste at 12:49 PM on June 26, 2000

"Chicken Run" has gotten a straight 100% approval rating at "Rotten Tomatoes", which is extremelyrare. The only other movie I can think of which did that was, interestingly, "Toy Story".
posted by Steven Den Beste at 12:51 PM on June 26, 2000

Oh, good. Holgate's made a serious post, so I don't feel bad doing the same. The Delmarva Eastern Shore is dominated, economically and politically, by chicken processers, most notably Perdue. Poultry workers--including a large number Latino immigrants--work in dangerous conditions for (as in most agricultural jobs) low pay. A number of individuals and organizations, including the Rev. Jim Davis' Delmarva Poultry Justice Alliance are trying to improve conditions, largely through unionization efforts, but it's hard going, and technological advances mean that these workers may soon be redundant. (I was going to include a link to the Jim Deere chicken catching machine the mighty Girlhacker blogged a few weeks ago, but the story in the Mercury News is no longer free.) Something to consider next time you get a bucket of extra crispy.
posted by snarkout at 2:49 PM on June 26, 2000

::falling on the floor in derisive laughter at the thought of the "Poultry Justice Alliance"::
posted by aaron at 8:12 PM on June 26, 2000

Looks like PETA has more important issues to, um, tackle right now: renaming football teams.
posted by harmful at 8:51 PM on June 26, 2000

Well, I may be a liberal, but I don't believe in making people do ridiculously grueling jobs for low pay when a machine can do it instead.
posted by dhartung at 11:41 PM on June 26, 2000

Anthropomorphized animals in movies notwithstanding, I don't actually feel a great deal of sympathy for most domesticated animals, because they're stupid.

A chicken is so stupid that it hardly even notices when it dies. A horse is so stupid that it is the only animal known which, if placed in front of sufficient food, will literally eat itself to death. (Among horse lovers, this is known as foundering, and the simple fact that they've created a word for it tells you that this has been going on for a long time.)

Actually, by far the smartest animals on a farm are swine, and if it weren't for the fact that I like ham and bacon so much, they're the only ones I'd feel sorry for. Fortunately, the slaughtering process for large animals really is pretty humane (I've seen film of it and found it fascinating), and the animals generally don't feel any pain.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 11:03 AM on June 27, 2000

Ever actually seen a chicken run around with its head cut off, Steven? Man, is that creepy. It made me wonder if people did the same thing.

I'm not sure if they're quite as smart as dogs, but pigs are pretty smart. Some, of course, are smarter than others.
posted by snarkout at 11:38 AM on June 27, 2000

As the site everybody was linking a couple of months ago explains, chickens don't seem to need their heads that much.
posted by harmful at 11:45 AM on June 27, 2000

Snark: People do. I know, I've seen. It takes the body about
three seconds (in the case of the decapitation I saw) to understand that it is headless. (Long story short - Motorcycle accident, slammed into lightpole with hanging arm, tore off head. I was ten. Whole schoolbus full of kids on a field trip saw that one.)

Steven: I agree with the idea that the pigs are smartest...but that's why I hate the fuckers so damn much. (Pigs, by the way, will eat their young. Not often, but it does happen.) I once had to catch one of the bastards fourteen times in a day. But, I must admit, if I were a pig I'd be trying to escape, too. They rank above dogs, and some would put them up there with Chimps and Dolphins, which makes me wonder how we ever domesticated them. Probably with clubs.
posted by Ezrael at 12:20 PM on June 27, 2000

Seen it, Snark? Hell, I've *done* it.

I'm an MIS guy...
posted by baylink at 4:22 PM on June 29, 2000

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