I watched 12 Years A Slave the other day and I thought of something: The movie is a great allegory for what is happening to animals right now all around the world. I doubt that the filmmakers had that in mind or that many members of the audience thought/will think of it but so what?
I didn't like the movie. I thought it was a good represantation of that part of history (I hear it's accurate) and the human complexity displayed made it sure that the film is not about just one period in history. But I still didn't like it for reasons that I can't put my finger on. I feel like the movie took itself too seriously and kind of thought we're dumb. But, really, I can't say for sure so I leave it there because that's not the point of this post.
What I was saying regarding the animals is that, like the black slaves depicted in the movie, they are considered inferior, property and just plain soulless.
There are many people suffering today because they don't get the respect they deserve from others but this is probably mostly true for animals.
We have all seen animals in factories living their whole lives as products/property/slaves. Having no room to move, being treated cruelly and being killed.. well, killing is never completely un-cruel.
There are, of course, animals who are luckier and die,
perhaps quickly, after they've lived a normal life in their natural
habitat. It's still murder, but it's not as awful as living like a
chicken, cow, pig etc in a factory that provides us with he animal
products we need, or think we do.
When people try to defend women, LGBT people or non-white people, one argument (and one that is used in the movie) is that they're people too. Well, I think that's a bad argument. It's arbitrary (unless, maybe, you use Bible as your source of facts) because choosing the species as proof of someone's worth makes as much sense as choosing the race, or the gender etc. So, my answer to why you should respect a fellow creature's life and rights is that, like you, he/she/it has a life and has feelings.
So, even if the filmmakers didn't have animals in mind (the front, middle or back of it), the movie works well as a reminder of the evil that permeates the act of being cruel (physically or otherwise) to someone you regard as inferior. This concept applies to how we treat animals today (more than ever) and it's there for anyone who cares to see.