5 (More) Utterly Outrageous PETA Stunts

Our delightful friends at PETA have been at it again. Running far over the line between attention-grabbing activism and attention-seeking lunacy, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals show no sign of changing their ways – which might be fun, if sanity weren’t so useful. Here, 5 more ridiculous PETA stunts of late.


Fluff and Nonsense: PETA Denies Fish Exist (October 2008)

Because much of the natural world is generally eww gross and lacking in cuteness, PETA are eager to helpfully rename the birds and the beasts so they’re more appealing. First to get a makeover? Fish. They’re now called Sea Kittens, and the official website plasters on the sentiment with a trowel, featuring a storybook containing heavily anthropomorphic fish suffering at the hands of evil humans. There are some good points here – such as how fish are generally a lot smarter than we give them credit for – but as usual, they’re buried in fathoms of uncompromising bluster. PETA wants to stop all fishing immediately, or ideally yesterday. But what would our cute, meowing “Land Fish” eat for their dinner?

It’s all so ripe for ridicule. So here’s some. Fin.


Breeding Trouble: A Canine Klan Clanger (February 2009)

The End Justifies The Means, right? During their protest at the recent Westminster Dog Show, PETA members dressed up in Klu Klux Klan garb while they handed out leaflets, equating dog-breeders to the infamous militant white supremacists and claiming that selective breeding exacerbates pet overpopulation problem. (PETA’s opponents have already labeled them hypocrites on this issue).

So how did the public react when it was approached by people dressed as hooded racists?

“Most passers-by seemed more puzzled than offended, though those who didn’t stop walked away thinking they really had seen the KKK.”

AP, quoted in the Los Angeles Times.

Oh well. Any reaction is a good reaction, right? Best foot forward, PETA.


Shock PETA Advert Featuring Women Wearing Clothes (January 2009)

Sex sells. And in this case, it sells vegetables – or it would do, if NBC had agreed to air PETA’s sleazefest of a Superbowl advert. In it, young women don skimpy outfits and gyrate ecstatically around groceries, accompanied with the tagline “Studies Show Vegetarians Have Better Sex” (because they’re generally slimmer and healthier, the “logic” goes).

So how did it get onto Youtube and the like? Because getting it rejected was the plan all along, of course, and as soon as NBC gave it a thumbs-down, the PETA marketing machine sprung into action. Sexist? You bet – but it’s all in a good cause (and it’s not as if they were naked, because that would be grossly demeaning. Ah, right). Meanwhile, women across the world find themselves too embarrassed to be seen shopping for vegetables in public, and send the men out instead. Thanks a bunch, PETA.


Michael Vick Fails To Score: PETA’s Version of Redemption (January 2009)

For former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, it’s not been a good couple of years. In 2007 he was convicted of running a dog-fighting ring on his property in Surrey County, Virginia – and he’s currently serving a 23-month federal prison sentence. In 2008 Vick filed for bankruptcy (just two years earlier, he was amongst the top ten richest athletes in America), and his former employers recently washed their hands of him, scuppering his chances of continuing his career when he’s released.

Cue PETA. They offered Vick the chance to feature in an advert condemning dog-fighting – on condition he filled out an animal empathy test, marked out of 100. Vick agreed…and scored 73.5%. And we know this because PETA not only released the score, but published a pdf of Vick’s answers on their website. Sorry, Michael, you’ve been taken for a ride. It’s a stunt to further sully your reputation (if that’s possible). Meanwhile, we suspect PETA would rate poorly on our Contrite Human Being Empathy Test.


Cooking Mama Knows Best While PETA Skips A Key Ingredient (November 2008)

If you can’t get through to the adults, target the kids. There’s a game on the Nintendo DS handheld gaming console called “Cooking Mama” (Majesco Entertainment), in which the elements of meal-preparation (vegetable chopping & peeling, food preparation and so on) are turned into mini-games played against the clock. PETA’s beef (so to speak) is with the use of meat in the game – so they released their own blood-soaked, thoroughly disturbing version aimed at…er, well, we don’t know who it’s aimed at. Meat eaters will love it, that’s for sure. Majesco recently responded thus:

“{Mama says:] Like any accomplished cook, I create my recipes to appeal to a broad range of tastes and preferences…while Mama is not a vegetarian, she fully supports the humane treatment of animals.”

In other words, Mama advocates tolerance. Now there’s a message for our kids. Unfortunately, these five stunts are only the latest in a long history of ridiculous pranks from PETA.

Additional: By no means all of PETA’s actions are founded on shock tactics, infringements on human dignity and general negativity. (If they were, the stunts listed above wouldn’t be so frustrating.) Their recent positive action to buy up stock in traditionally meat-heavy fast food industries is something we’ll be following with interest, since anything that directly turns the American diet around gets our vote. More like this, please.

Images: jon hanson / -=RoBeE=- / zenera / nineball2727 / MoonSoleil.

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.