Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Comedy of Carnage

Comedians are masters of searching out and observing the hypocrisy and irony in life; turning it back on society in a more digestible and entertaining manner.  Given the surge in veganism in recent years, it is therefore no surprise that there is currently a ripple of veganism surging through the comedy industry. 

Vegetarianism and veganism has had its fair share of being negatively mocked in the comedic sense, but it seems the tide may be turning.  Not only have vegans (Sarah Pascoe, Romesh Ranganathan and Simon Amstell included) joined the ranks of the mainstay of British comedy performers, bringing with them their own more positive and thought provoking comedic observations of being a vegan, but the industry as a whole seems to be sitting up and paying attention.  I did think however that we were still a way off of hearing anything beyond the odd comment or discussion on a comedy game show, or a story in a stand up show.  Then came along Simon Amstell's film, Carnage.

A short film on mainstream TV, looking at veganism, would have been amazing enough.  An hour long mockumentary, with well known actors and celebrities produced by the BBC is nothing short of astonishing.  Okay so they haven't been brave enough to put it on anything but the BBC iPlayer yet, but they have at least advertised it on the main BBC channels. 

Carnage looks at a world 50 years into the future; a world turned vegan and horrified at its carnist past.  This is however, no run of the mill, usually brutal exploration into the reasons why the masses should turn to veganism.  Simon Amstell has still honoured the very essence of veganism but wrapped it up extremely well in layer upon layer of humour, entertainment, and fascinating facts for both vegans and non vegans alike.  He is like a child who has very skillfully hidden his vegetables under the meat on the dinner plate; or in this case, should it be the other way round?

We had laugh out loud moments (yes us vegans do have a sense of humour!) mixed in with moments of being pulled along in wild imaginings that such a world could eventually exist.  I was also delighted, as cringe worthy as some of it was, to see the inclusion of the historical aspect to veganism.  I also felt a sense of pride and hope; pride in that veganism has come so very far in the 30 years Phil and I have been vegan, and hope that Carnage represents and accelerates the more recent surge in vegan interest into even more of an awakening.

It is easy for us vegans to wax (soya not beeswax!) lyrical about something that hits the vegan nail on the head, especially if it does it in a ground breaking, entertaining, and accessible way; but will it work?  After all, it must have been the intention of Simon Amstell, as a vegan himself, to go way beyond the entertainment level and send out those far reaching vegan ripples.  I find it extremely hard to believe that it won't reach out to the non vegan viewer and at least plant a seed.  In fact I would be astonished if it doesn't but then I am already astonished how people will very easily deny the facts that are already in front of many (take for instance the man in the film who said that cows would explode if they weren't milked; whether that was staged for the film or not I have personally heard someone say this!).  I will read the reviews and listen to the feedback with much interest and hope.

Carnage is available now on BBC iPlayer and remains so for over a year apparently.  If you would like a non vegan's review then check out Mark Kermode's take on Carnage. 

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