August 19, 2010 § Leave a comment
There is a scene in Ron Fricke’s excellent film ‘Baraka‘ that shows the process chicks go through to become battery birds. It’s both disturbing and strangely hypnotic. Thousands of fluffly little freshly hatched baby birds are shown rolling three deep down a conveyor belt and into aluminium funnels. They career down a series of chutes and through tagging machines until they end up in the hands of a brusque lady who melts their beaks. They are then unceremoniously hoyed back onto another belt where they end up dumped off a precipice into their cells. Fricke then shows us the hopeless fate of the grown birds sat miserably dropping eggs and waiting to die. He juxtaposes their sad fate with commuters rushing through a busy station. He’s making an interesting statement, but the humans squeezing like those same chicks into confined spaces are free. A station is the ultimate symbol of freedom. The chickens aren’t free. At all.
Watching this sequence should be compulsory viewing for anyone who eats cheap chicken meat. It should also be compulsory viewing for football fans, because we are exactly like battery chickens, just without feathers. Football fans sit neatly in a cage, unable to make a noise against our captors whilst dropping money into their laps like warm eggs. Unlike the commuters in the station we are rooted to the spot. We don’t want to leave football so we’ve been jumped on and captured.
Can we ever go free range?
It’s unlikely that we will break out of our cages and peck the factory owners eyes out anytime soon. Our feet have been cut off and our beaks have been melted rendering us helpless to our fate. It doesn’t have to be like this, there is a way to break free – all you need to do is press the join button on a Facebook group. Even a mangled old battery hen can do that given access to the internet.