Let me get this off my chest: this movie made me cry and I’m not usually a movie-crier (I’m more of a movie-tear-er). Okja disguises itself as a science fiction, and in many ways it is, but at the same time, the movie also highlights some distinct realities that are happening in the world right at this moment.
The plot of the movie centers around a new species of pigs: the superpigs. They’re genetically modified to be better for the environment, more intelligent and taste better than regular pork. The movie starts off with a press conference where Lucy Mirando (played by Tilda Swinton) introduces herself as the new president of Mirando Corporation. She claims to be different from her crazy sister and evil father–she’s the cool one in the family! In the fun and engaging conference, she introduces her the superpigs as her new project. Part of an extensive marketing effort, she sends off a number of superpigs to selected farmers across the globe, with the aim to hold a superpig competition 10 years later.
Zoom into South Korea and fast forward 10 years later, we see the heart-warming relationship between Mija, a young village girl, and Okja, her superpig. The plot thickens as Mirando corporation takes Okja away for the superpig competition in New York City. But Mija soon finds out that Lucy Mirando has bigger plans for Okja. With the single intent to save Okja, Mija sets out on a rescue mission as we follow her journey from the rural mountains in South Korea to NYC. This is about as detailed as I’m going to get–we don’t want any spoilers now, do we?
The movie shines light on a few harsh realities of the meat industry and animal cruelty–forced breeding, extracting flesh samples for taste test, the conditions of the slaughterhouse. Although they are key parts of the story, they are nonetheless difficult to watch. It’s almost impossible to go through these scenes without feeling disturbed and, to a certain extent, guilty.
“Own your lifestyle choices and own your positions. If you’re going to eat meat, this is what happens in the slaughterhouse. Don’t trick yourself,”
— Jon Ronson, Co-writer of Okja
Co-writer Jon Ronson tells Heat Vision that the movie will turn people vegetarian, citing that most people don’t realize where their food comes from. Through Okja, he aims to show these consequences to the audience.
To be very honest, immediately after watching the movie I did (very seriously) consider going pescatarian or vegetarian. I think the movie does a good job at highlighting the very real conditions of slaughterhouses and at educating viewers about the meat industry. But how good of a job is it doing when it comes to turning people vegetarian? Watch it yourself and find out (and let us know too)!
Check out the trailer below:
Okja is now available on Netflix.