Super Bowl Wrap: The PETA Ad
As indicated, there was one more Super Bowl ad I wanted to weigh in on. It was an ad that actually wasn't shown during the broadcast; nonetheless, you may have seen it. If not, you have undoubtedly heard about it.
It was an ad produced by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) -- you know, the rights group that agitates against consumption of animals and advocates for better treatment of same in scientific experimentation.
And the ad they have produced to advance their cause?: the ad embedded above.
Click on it, if you haven't already. And I wonder whether, at some point during the disrobing, and the clutching and stroking and fondling of self, and the massaging and rubbing of vegetables against skin, you were not assailed by the thought: "wait a minute . . . people are animals . . . right? And so, like . . . how is it that the women in the ad are being treated any better than animals in cages? How is it that an organization aimed at improving the treatment of animals can be mistreating animals so crassly, so brazenly?
This ploy by PETA -- which seems to be what it was (an intentional strategy to generate more buzz about their organization than is normally accorded it) -- has not gone unnoticed. Posts like this, and columns like this one here in The Chicago Tribune, have generated enough negative pub to make you wonder whether PETA's strategy was wise. Is PETA not committing a wrong in hopes of rectifying a different wrong?
(And, if the former doesn't eliminate the latter, then hasn't PETA gone about and created more harm -- much more -- than existed prior to their opening up their wallet and producing the ad?)
. . . on the other hand, PETA seems genuinely unabashed. On their home page, they feature the flap over the ad. And the tone adopted is -- well, consistent with the tenor of the male copy-writers of the ad: folks pleased with the fact that they have crafted a communication that features sexualized women, and perpetuates sexist images. Sure. Why not? They were obviously oblivious to the deeper message they were sending in the first instance; and, in the second instance, now that they realize that they have offended people, they seem to believe (or is that hope?) that they can replenish that lost client-base with whoever else might prefer a more titillating corporation. Turning the episode to their advantage, PETA's top page tease features a photograph of a model worthy of a Victoria's Secret fashion spread, seemingly caught in the afterglow of blindfolded sex, clutching a thick thatch of asparagus. The text unapologetically gushes:
PETA's ad—which features a bevy of beauties who are powerless to resist the temptation of veggie love—was deemed too hot for the Super Bowl. NBC rejected the video because of concerns over "rubbing pelvic region with pumpkin," a woman "screwing herself with broccoli," and more! Read NBC's complete list of concerns and enter to win your own veggie love!
Alongside the text are thumbnails featuring the PETA models, with category headings such as: "TV spot", "Behind the Scenes", " 'Chew on This' ", and "See More of Amanda". The only thing missing are the exclamation marks so prevalent in the self-congratulatory text.
Well, nothing anyone says is going to rid our world of sexism and the exploitation of women. Not, it seems, in this lifetime. Still, it is disappointing to learn that people who adopt a(n exceedingly) high moral tone, seem to be unable to avoid tumbling over other (rather simple) morality markers. Call me a puritan, call my crazy or inflexible or unrealistic, but I expect more from those who declare themselves bent on waging a moral crusade.
Personally, (since we are all in the process of falling off the summit), for my sensibilities this mocking send-up, making the rounds on the Internet, is far superior:
After all, at least it seems clearer about its intentions -- about what it stands for. Sexuality, sexual performance, pure and simple. It declares its essence in a way that PETA's campaign was unwilling to.
I strongly doubt that any PETA-person is reading this entry. (But just in case you are) . . . dudes:
Exploitation of any kind is wrong. And exploitation as a means of decrying another kind of exploitation is still exploitation.
Two too many, if you want to invoke the principle you so publicly trumpet (and lord over all those you deem fall below your exacting standard).
Even if you can't recognize -- or are unwilling to admit -- it, yourselves.