Zoo is absolutely the best documentary I’ve ever seen about bestiality practitioners.
Then again it’s also the worst documentary I’ve ever seen about bestiality practitioners.
The early portions of the film are about zoophilia in general, then gradually it comes to focus on a specific case in Washington state of a man who died as a result of–well, just think Catherine the Great.
Aside from the subject matter, the methodology and style used for this film make it dry and kind of grueling to get through.
The audio consists primarily of oral history style statements by zoophiles, and others involved in the fatality (e.g., people in the community, the man’s family), along with occasional other things like clips from radio broadcasts. As you’re hearing these voices, people are dramatizing what is being said (though not the bestiality certainly; they don’t even simulate that).
But because none of the people you see are talking, nor doing what the movie is really about, the visuals are almost all people sitting in cars, walking across fields, standing in the doorways of barns, etc. Plus, they’re often in shadows or have their backs to the camera. (Some of the zoophiles play themselves, so their faces can’t be in the movie.)
Meanwhile, the music is dirge-like, the pacing is languorous, and the film is somewhat coy about the subject matter. For much of the movie people are talking around it. They’re very careful not to be explicit about the specific acts the people do with animals. It’s like they’re trying to make the least sensationalist film possible about this subject matter.
So all-in-all it’s not a real scintillating approach.
The film doesn’t take a position, except in the sense that by giving the zoophiles an opportunity to tell their own stories in their own words, it implicitly treats them as worthy of being heard, worthy of at least some sympathy.
On the other hand, the film does focus on a specific incident of bestiality “at its worst” where a practitioner actually dies. So in that sense, it could be understood as intentionally putting the zoophiles in a bad light.
On the whole, though, I’d say it strives to be as neutral as it can be on a topic as emotionally charged as this.
One problem in using this film to draw any conclusions is that it’s all anecdotal stuff about a subset of zoophiles that I would think is atypical.
For one thing, they’re a very social lot. They talk about getting together, and having very mundane parties and social gatherings indistinguishable from a bunch of guys hanging out to play poker or watch a football game. Except that toward the end of the evening they drift out to the barn and do their thing with the animals.
I would think the typical person who jacks off his dog, just jacks off his dog. He doesn’t reach out through the Internet to find like-minded folks, get to know them as people, and invite a bunch of them over for a party where they can all jack off their dogs together. I mean, these folks are to bestiality what swingers and such are to heterosexuality.
Secondly, the people in the movie take this very, very seriously, as a lifestyle that is an important part of who they are. They talk about how the emotional connections with animals are more important than the sex, how it makes them feel the way other people can sometimes feel (and these people mostly can’t) with a significant other or a traditional family.
My guess would be most people who ever delve into bestiality do it as an oddball way to get their jollies, as a one time or rare experimental thing, and not–like these folks–as a major lifestyle choice.
Anyway, would seeing this film change people’s minds about bestiality? I don’t know. Probably not. It’s not the kind of topic where people are looking to hear all sides and reconsider their position.
I came out feeling about the same as where I’d started. I’m pretty close to indifferent to it. I think the common reactions of horror and outrage, and of hating and condemning zoophiles as the lowest of the low, are almost entirely a product of the emotionalism and self-righteousness that comes from religion-based taboo moralities.
The attempts, for instance, to base opposition on a concern about abuse of animals strike me as insincere rationalizations, and unconvincing even if taken at face value. (Yeah, I’m sure horses hate getting blow jobs. And I’m sure the one horse in the movie was just thrilled when that woman had him gelded to protect him from ever being “abused” like that again.) People hate it because they hate any sex that’s “weird” to them, whether it be gay sex or golden showers or self-fellatio or whatever is the next oddball thing someone invents and sticks on the Internet.
It just doesn’t stir up hatred in me. It’s “gross,” I suppose, in the way putting ketchup on a hot fudge sundae is gross to me, but it doesn’t sadden or horrify me in the way war and violence and things like that do.
Zoo has its merits, and the topic is certainly thought-provoking, but I suspect one could do a film on this topic that would be considerably more watchable than this one.