VegFest in Buffalo, NY: A Slideshow About Caricatures and Memes

Animal advocacy produces many images in which selectively bred animals appear as cute, contented, and wanting to delight you or be friends with you. And generally we don’t regard it as needing further thought. It’s the imagery of endearment. Post adorable piglets, and maybe it’ll make people who keeping doing those bacon posts on Facebook see bacon in another way?

Popular advocacy images: What do they display or conceal about humanity’s relationship with all others?

On Sunday 6 August at the Western New York VegFest in Buffalo, I’ll present Cuteness, Memes, and Animal-Liberation Imagery: A Slideshow and Discussion.
We’ll look at how endearing imagery can work against animals and their defenders in a way the movement
has yet to explore.
This presentation asks: Does popular animal-advocacy imagery reinforce animals’ vulnerability? Is so, why should this matter to us?
Is there something we can learn here from the effects of race-based caricatures? What do we know about the power of imagery from the abolitionist struggle? To say all oppressions come from a common impulse, as I wrote in On Their Own Terms, isn’t to say that various groups are the same, or that the kind of inequality they’ve faced is the same. And facile analogies don’t help. Claire Heuchan has observed how “Black experience is regularly placed on a par with animals as a provocation.”
This is why it’s so important that the slideshow’s concept does not set out to compare caricatures reflecting white supremacy with caricatures that justify domestication. Distinct struggles against systems of domination should be known on their terms, even as they teach about the common source — the human urge to dominate and control — and ask ourselves how we’re challenging or continuing it.

Thanks to my patrons who make it possible for me to give up days of shift work to contribute this effort to the WNY VegFest. If you’d like to help this outreach continue, consider supporting it with a regular contribution (which can be as modest as $1 per month) on Patreon.
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3 thoughts on “VegFest in Buffalo, NY: A Slideshow About Caricatures and Memes

  1. Wish I could hear you speak, Lee. I devour the oxygenated discussion your work produces.
    I had one thought as I read near the close of this piece.
    There’s something about singling out the urge to control and dominate without recognizing those urges as fear-based that leaves me wondering if readers will understand that these urges are in need of healing and releasing as compared to repressing or diagnosing. The common wisdom that urges must be repressed (are animal, and to be despised) is so, well, common. 🙂 and of course has gotten us nowhere.
    Undoing fear takes courage, and a willingness to disconnect for our intellect and allow our hearts a chance to speak.
    But that’s my soap box and may not be a place you want to dive into.
    love to you all and thanks for always being there, at an altitude I can relate to. 😊❤️

  2. Thank you for the helpful input, Meg. And for your steadfast encouragement too.

    I think I need to know more. When you write that urges are in need of healing and releasing as compared to repressing or diagnosing, what are you thinking healing and releasing would be like? Is it possible to give an example? Or some background to your thoughts? How do we identify what repressing is, or what is being repressed? Can we separate intellect from the heart? Does Tom Regan’s thought resonate?: “I often say that reason can lead the will to water but only emotion can make it drink.”

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