Ingrid's and PETA'S whole philosophy is that she equates human suffering and animal suffering. Therefore, by calling herself an animal she is saying that the interests of a rat, for example, should get equal consideration to her own interests.
Can you talk a little about the origins of PETA?
PETA started in 1980, and they were a pretty tried and true animal rights organization for a brief period. They realized very quickly that showing people images of animal abuse seemed to trigger a much more intense emotional response than just telling people that this abuse existed, so they would go inside slaughterhouses, factory farms, biomedical research facilities and document what they perceived to be animal abuse, or animal torture. Prior to PETA, no one had ever really brought these images to the world before.
In the late eighties, early nineties, they began to change their tactics to keep up with trends in the media; more sex, more violence, taking a more 'pop' presentation to what they were doing. They also started to rope in celebrities to be spokespeople for the organization. So in the early nineties, PETA started with the "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" campaigns-- which obviously caught the media's attention- -with stars being essentially naked in print and TV ads. That was very popular for awhile, and I think that started to change the public perception of PETA, and people started to look at them as a very savvy, bordering on offensive organization that seemed to stop at nothing to get their point across.
The film has such a provocative title.
I chose that for a number of different reasons. I think it hooks you, and you know instantly it's an animal movie. Ingrid's and PETA'S whole philosophy is that she equates human suffering and animal suffering. Therefore, by calling herself an animal she is saying that the interests of a rat, for example, should get equal consideration to her own interests. It also alludes to her aggressiveness when it comes to advocating, and it seemed appropriate for a portrait of her.
But by going to such an extreme in comparing a rat to the life of a human being, doesn't that undermine their cause?
Well, for PETA that is the cause. They toe the hard line, because they want to effect change. But it's a tricky argument. PETA certainly had a lot of success early on, convincing people that testing cosmetics on animals was unnecessary, and they gained a lot of traction that way, because it is unnecessary.
The argument gets a little trickier when you go into fields like biomedical research where most medications are tested on animals. And that seems to be the area of PETA's argument that gets the least amount of support from people because it's very tricky to convince people that a research animal is as important as say their closest relative.