Glenn Danzig, cat lover and advocate for PETA, says, "Never put suppositories in your butt and kill a cat in the basement. NEVER."
Casuistry opens with footage from a Neoist group in Montreal, Canada who filmed a short in 1980 in which they gutted two domesticated cats, placed the hides on their heads, then light the dead animals on fire. The group was trying to draw outrage from the mutilation (and garment use) of family pets to that of countless murders in war. The footage was, naturally, disgusting, but their point with this short Neoist "piece" was clear. The point of Casuistry was not.
About twenty years later, another group of Canadians got high on hallucinogenics and mutilated a cat in their basement, proving nothing except fucked up shit does indeed occur in Canada, whether people lock front doors there or not.
Jesse Power is a filmmaker and artist who received excellent grades years earlier in art school for a film in which he chops off the head of a live chicken and eats that chicken for dinner. We see that film's highlights as Jesse narrates, the headless chicken flailing, twitching and finally being eaten by Jess. As a vegan about to renew my PETA membership, I really expected footage such as this to blow the wheels off my tolerance. But Jesse (off of drugs) makes an excellent point - People eat meat. Somebody kills that meat. Killing tends to equal suffering. People who eat meat without admitting the murder and cruelty (as he does by killing it himself) are hypocrites. Unfortunately, all of Jesse's good points are easily dismissed in this film, which thankfully lacks the video of tortured cat, but provides us with police report quoting the boys in a basement as they gleefully hung, gutted, kicked, and gouged out the eye of a dying cat Jesse aspires to cook and eat.
Hoards of animal lovers and activists showed up outside court as two of the three cat-killers were tried. As usual, these compassionate types who live to dress their pets in bows and raincoats, sputtered inarticulately into the cameras, assuring us, "God meant for us to eat pigs and cows... But not cats."
A Canadian detective pops in and out of the film in interviews reiterating how sick an individual Jesse Power is for mutilating this cat. Each time the plumpish detective appeared I wondered how many animal deaths he is responsible for, though justified since his meat lies between two pieces of bread, usually purchased from a clown under golden arches. The detective describes Jesse's art with disgust for the skinned people and animals Jesse loved drawing. Curators from Jesse's art gallery tell the camera they do not condone the abuse of animals as art. All the while I am waiting for a build, but none comes. Jesse did not intend to do anything artistic with his cat footage - He was simply a wasted, morbid boy with the desire to kill and eat a cat. You know... That old story. In interviews Jesse resembles a drunk driver responsible for the death of humans as Jess says he deserved the punishment (10 months in jail, 280 hours community service, one year house arrest) and if the courts saw fit to punish him further he would ride it out. As an animal lover (who does not participate in the parade of dogs wearing raincoats) I was, surprisingly, far from outraged. As long as I can remember, boys go through phases of killing animals in efforts to learn about life. Girls find dead birds and spend afternoons mesmerized. These drugged-up cat killers reminded me of childhood spent learning the mechanics of life. And they reminded me why I never do drugs.
My biggest disappointment with Casuistry came with the lack of animal activist perspective. This story could have been powerfully harsh lighting on the hypocrisy of people who eat a variety of animals, buying toiletries unnecessarily tested on everything from kittens to rats, all the while showing remorse for one slaughtered cat. But the closest the filmmakers came to pointing out any condoned cruelty among society was with some fast snippets of bullfighting - From a foreign country. They were unable to obtain the tape of Jesse's cat mutilation, but it would have served no purpose since the filmmakers seemed void of opinion anyway. The only clear message was "drugs are bad." Curiosity didn't kill the cat or even give us a satisfying documentary!
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