Why You Need to Watch “Save Ralph”
This Oscar season, make time for this shortlisted film — and to advocate against animal testing.
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Thanks to hilariously weird directorial efforts, including What We Do in the Shadows (2019) and Thor: Ragnarok (2017) Taika Waititi has emerged as one of the most exciting and unique comedic figures in years. If those films didn’t convince you of his brilliance, the show Our Flag Means Death (2022), in which he portrays a queer reimagining of infamous English pirate Blackbeard, is proof enough. So, upon reading that he voiced a talking rabbit in an animated film that was shortlisted for an Oscar for Best Animated Short this year, it would be fair to assume that it’s a quirky romp full of lighthearted banter.
But Save Ralph (2022), which has 14 million YouTube views, is a serious and impactful endeavor. Written and directed by Spencer Susser, the short film depicts the harsh reality of how animals are treated while being used for beauty product testing. Save Ralph was produced for and released by the Humane Society International (HSI) as part of its global campaign to ban animal testing for cosmetics.
Art (Unfortunately) Imitating Life
The four-minute piece is admittedly hard to watch, but that’s why it’s so important — and powerful. It opens documentary-style with Waititi’s Ralph introducing himself to the camera and discussing his role as a “tester,” noting that he’s half deaf, half blind, and covered in chemical burns. Throughout Save Ralph, the titular rabbit is visibly strained but emotionally subdued, ultimately accepting his fate in the process.
After Ralph announces that it’s all worth it for the “superior” humans, he details his extensive family lineage of being test subjects. The film then follows Ralph’s gruesome day at the lab, which involves a brutal eye injection. According to the HSI, this procedure is what’s known as the Draize test, an experiment used to evaluate chemical irritation to the eyes and skin. It was developed over 70 years ago and involves zero pain relief for the animal subjects. While modern non-animal approaches are available, companies continue to employ this approach.
Save Ralph highlights the inhumane truth that, of course, these creatures have no choice in this matter. Thanks to its gut-wrenching exposure of the subject matter, emotional stop-motion animation, and stellar additional voice cast, including Zac Efron, George Lopez, and Olivia Wilde, sheds light on a long-gestating problem.
The Realities of Animal Testing
The HSI reports that over 500,000 animals continue to suffer and die every year globally from animal testing. As of 2022, 10 states in the U.S. have passed laws to ban animal testing and 42 countries have also banned or limited this practice. In addition, Lush, Unilever, P&G, Avon, and L’Oréal have have all pushed back on animal testing requirements. But sweeping legislation, namely the Humane Cosmetics Act in the U.S., has yet to be passed.
In fact, animal testing is legally required for products, such as fragrances and clothing dyes, before going to market. Across the globe, government regulations demand “animal-poisoning tests” be performed on laboratory animals before chemicals, pesticides, or medicinal products can be distributed to the public. The HSI notes that as many as 10,000 animals are killed for every new chemical tested. Here are just a few of the companies outsourcing their animal testing in countries where it remains legal.
If you want to help put an end to global animal testing, please consider donating to HSI or engaging with the #SaveRalph social media campaign. Because as one of the final haunting messages of Save Ralph states, “No animal should suffer in the name of beauty.”
Sean Zucker is a writer whose work has been featured in Points In Case, The Daily Drunk, Posty, and WellWell. He has an adopted Pit Bull named Banshee whose work has been featured on the kitchen floor and whose behavioral issues rival his own.