Before completely cutting meat out of my diet, I never saw the cute cuddly pig in Charlotte’s Web as the piece of bacon sitting on the plate in front of me. Growing up in the Midwest, it just didn’t click — meat was a staple, and it took me an embarrassingly long time to really think about the full picture. But if you’ve seen Ojka come up on Netflix lately, it will make you see farm animals in a whole new light the second you press play.
The movie — which stars Ahn Seo-hyun, Paul Dano, Tilda Swinton, and Jake Gyllenhaal — follows the character Mija, a young girl who grew up in South Korea with Okja — a massive “super pig” — as her best friend. But despite loving this creature more than anything in the world, a multinational meat company comes in and takes her friend away from her to be slaughtered. As you can imagine, Mija does everything in her power to try and save her friend (with the help of a handful of animal activists!) even though there are plenty of obstacles in her way.
Although it’s just a story, this film beautifully disguises the horrors of animal agriculture into a heart-wrenching tale that’s all too real. After falling in love with Ojka, you don’t want anything happen to her: You see how smart she is, how she has real emotions, how she’s sweet and playful, and how she would do anything for Mija. So when you witness the pain and suffering they put Okja through during the movie, you feel for her and want her to live. Okja might just be a fictional character, but the sad reality is that she represents real farm animals who get slaughtered every day without a second thought — animals who have those same abilities to form strong bonds, are highly intelligent, and who show compassion and love. These animals are even smarter and just as lovable as the pets we treat like royalty in our own homes, yet they’re treated like garbage.
While Mirando — the corporation that’s slaughtering the super pigs — is trying to cover up the horror these animals endure to feed people something as insignificant as “Super Pig Jerky,” this film shows what it’s really like behind-the-scenes for the animals the world is consuming. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no such thing as humane slaughter — it’s still slaughter, and millions of pigs, cows, chickens, fish, and other animals endure pure hell every year so people can eat meat. Which, if you think about it, is millions of Okjas — all for something our bodies don’t even need. But after seeing the dark side of the industry through the animals’ eyes, you might look at your plate a little differently. Especially considering as traumatic as the film’s view is, it’s not even close to what you would see in real life at a slaughterhouse.
Watch the film on Netflix — with some tissues in hand — and consider trying out a vegetarian or vegan diet. Once you open your eyes, you’ll never be able to look at that plate of bacon the same way ever again.