The Ghosts In Our Machine


To all of our new and old friends!

2011 sped by as we developed THE GHOSTS IN OUR MACHINE. And, now, we have officially started production. It will be a very busy year traveling and filming and editing a feature length documentary that explores our complex relationship to animals within the context of our voracious urban consumer culture.

We will meet a spectrum of people, and many Ghosts.
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We wish you the very best for 2012. Keep on rockin’.

– Liz.

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  1. Mary V Culpepper January 6, 2012 at 5:46 am

    Can you help me to UNLIKE the film’s FB page? I am on a phone and am unable to do do. I try to support these types of endeavors but have only just realized that you are promoting welfarism and “happy meat.”

    • lizmars January 6, 2012 at 6:39 pm

      Hello, THE GHOSTS IN OUR MACHINE does not “support happy meat”. TGIOM is a social issue documentary committed to exploring moral complexity, and presenting the surrounding atmosphere and landscape in which our main subject Jo-Anne McArthur exists. Jo is an animal rights photographer and in our demo-trailer she says: “I feel like I’m a war photographer, and I’m photographing history and photographing changes in history right now in terms of animal rights and where it’s going”.

  2. Donna Oakes January 6, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Hi Mary,
    I have been following this project for many months now (since last May possibly?). I have nothing but admiration for Liz and her team. I feel very strongly that this is the film that is going to be a catalyst for change – a deeply reflective film that will allow individuals to think and make meaningful changes in their lives. I don’t know why you think that they are promoting “happy meat”. Please check out their trailers again and look at the We Animals website which is the collection of photographs by Jo-Anne McArthur who is the main human subject in this film.

  3. Danielle Legg January 6, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Mary, your comment is really beyond disappointing. I have been following The Ghosts in Our Machine since before there was even a Facebook page or a working webpage, just a video on vimeo. I have never once thought “excellent, here’s a project that will make people feel warm and fuzzy while they eat meat from an animal raised on an organic farm, and then hugged until the animal humanely died” What I thought after watching the first trailer was “Holy! This film is going to make a huge difference, people are finally going to start making connections! They can’t see this beagle, and then this cow (who happens to be my pal Norman at Snooters Farm Sanctuary, owned and run by my very close friend Susan) and say that there are no similarities, THIS film is going to be a vegan maker! AND not it the way that Earthlings makes vegans, but in a thoughtful way, oh my dog, I’m so excited I could explode” And from that day that I watched that trailer, I have been a HUGE supporter of the project. I think you’re upset because Temple Grandin was interviewed, and instead of thinking about it, you reacted, and poorly at that, with little thought. It would be a shame for you to dismiss the amazing work that this film, and this project, will be doing. More of the shame however, lies in your insistence to use labels. Welfarist, Abolitionist, Activist, what ever. Maybe labels are important to you, maybe to you, you feel more valuable when you can call yourself something, or belong to a certain group. Those labels serve little purpose, and what they will help to do is destroy the movement. I have no label, nor do I seek one. My goal is to change hearts and minds, and help people to make a connection. The road is one that will be long, and there will be ups and downs, what I will not ever do, is attack someone who wants the animals to have better lives, and deaths. Until it’s all gone, the animals deserve that much. So I proudly support welfare, because to me, it’s not a “this or that, and nothing else” but rather a journey of steps, and one of those is making people demand better treatment. Surely, if they deserve better, there will be those who say “why not their lives?” And those people may adopt a plant based diet, those people will then act as advocates for the animals, and so on, until the demand for the product simply does not justify it’s creation. I’m sorry that you think tomorrow the world will go vegan, or that the system can be crumbled by chipping away at the top. I’m on the bottom, working to save lives from the grassroots level, and it’s projects like The Ghosts in Our Machine that will help crumble the system, and wake people to the horrors of what they support. This project, and people just like me on the grassroots level, WE will be the change you want to see, WE will be saving lives, I only hope that people like you with your labels and thoughtless words will not be the death of the movement.

  4. April January 6, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Mary, why do you think this project supports “happy meat”? I too have been following this project, and agree with Donna (well said). Keep up the good work Jo and Ghosts team!

  5. Debra Roppolo January 6, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Hi Mary,

    I’m not sure what you saw or read that lead you to believe that the Ghosts team or Jo-Anne McArthur herself support “happy meat” but I do know that nothing could be further from the truth. There’s no such thing as happy meat and I’m pretty sure everyone involved in this project knows it. They have poured their hearts and souls into exposing the atrocities that we as a society and a race inflict on animals and they have done so at considerable risk to themselves, in many different ways. As Donna Oakes said, please view the trailers again and visit Jo-Anne’s remarkable website. There is no welfarism or support of “happy meat” going on here.

  6. Liz F. January 6, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    I am not part of this project, but I can say as a fellow documentary filmmaker and artist, Mary, that in order to make a good, issue-based film, you can’t only interview the people you agree with. Other points of view need to be taken into account and discussed, otherwise, the film would be one-sided and the issues at hand would not be well-represented. I am a huge fan of Liz M.’s project and like many of the other posters here, I think it will make a difference. Jo-anne McArthur’s work and spirit have moved me so much that I am no a vegetarian on the road to becoming a vegan. I can’t imagine how many more people will follow after seeing her in this film. I am sorry you are so misinformed.

  7. Mary V Culpepper January 7, 2012 at 5:16 am

    As A former journalist for two of the world’s leading news organizations, I understand about balance and bias. It is not the interview but commentary that is disturbing. “A brilliant architect of humane” something-or-other. She may be responsible for more misery and violence that any other human on the planet. Her “niceness” or our collective creepy obsession with Asperger’s syndrome does not give her a pass. I abhor labels but in this case they seem to be the only currency that followers, if not filmmakers, will understand. She is a paid consultant to a powerful industry with a powerful lobby, one with an huge interest in deceiving the public. She follows the money. It is that simple. I have nightmares when I see her name, if I can sleep at all.

  8. lizmars January 7, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Thank you everyone for your comments. Mary, for clarity, this is what I said:
    “Temple Grandin is a world renowned architect of humane slaughter systems. I had her speak about her inventions that are part of the Machine, that use Ghosts as products for human consumption. 1% (or thereabouts) of the world is vegan. It is a morally complex discussion.” I did not use the word “brilliant”, we can argue about the definition of “humane”, and it is a fact that Ms. Grandin is “world renowned”.

  9. Mary V Culpepper January 8, 2012 at 3:48 am

    I respect the team and its collective and individual talents. And everyone’s courage. The problem is that TG holds a dangerous amount of power. She persuades the masses that they need not worry; it’s OK to eat happy meat or free-range chickens, or even animals from small local farms (they often live miserable lives and die horrible deaths too). Kosher–what a bill of goods with the deception that it is humane. Etc. I giggle when I read comments saying that people like me will sink “the movement.” Truth is, I am invisible to the world and I will be dead and long gone before meaningful progress happens. Temple Grandin, however, is a force who must be reckoned with. From another angle, even if she were “right” in her approach (as a consultant to the powerful industry that labels vegans as “terrorists,”), it isn’t working and there is incontrovertible evidence to prove it. The hold she has on people is terrifying. Always she is described as: brilliant, interesting, nice, fascinating, etc and while is neat that, as I believe she suggested in an interview, she could probably count cards well enough to “beat the house” in a casino, this wonderful talent is not enough to convince a prudent person that slaughter is humane. Her support of US horse slaughter is disingenuous at best, if not evil. Check out how horse slaughter worked out in Kaufman, Texas. And finally, the safety of the US food supply is in grave peril, thanks in large part to the USDA, which has more than a little to do with slaughterhouses (the runoff from which taints our groundwater and runs off onto land where organic produce is grown). I think we are “lost but making record time.”

  10. Danielle Legg January 10, 2012 at 1:01 am

    Mary, you’re only invisible because you wish to be. I am vegan, My voice is not ignored, and I am not now, nor will I ever be, invisible. It’s a shame you feel that way. Invisible is a choice, it’s not like a disease that you get when you go vegan, or choose to make more compassionate choices. Even if I am alone in the dark, my light will not be stifled, and I know I’m not alone, for that I am thankful. My voice matters, my choices matter, my behavior matters, and I am NOT invisible, nor is this project, or the movement. I’ve been vegan for two years. In that time Gardien has been added to the market shelves, there are soy milk commercials (not to mention almond, hemp, oat, coconut and other varities available in many grocery stores) and commercials by the dairy industry, stating that “real milk” doesn’t need to be shaken… um, what? If there is no progress, why is the diary industry combating milk alternatives, and with a ridiculous ad no less? There is progress, and unless you’re on your death bed (which would be terrible) you have, and will continue to see it. Progress isn’t invisible, and neither are you. You’ve got to open your eyes to see though.

  11. Kiley Mullen February 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    I was recently told about this film during my internship at Farm Sanctuary and am very inspired! I too am a photographer, and beginning to focus on animal rights photography in the hopes of presenting the world with a closer look of what is going on within the animal production industries. I admire Jo-Anne’s work and have a lot of respect for her; I know it isn’t easy doing what she does, and that this work takes a lot of courage. Thank you all for making this film and helping to create many steps toward animal liberation and public awareness. Best of luck!