Written by PETA
To say that we're stoked to see The Runaways, which hits theaters nationwide today, is an understatement. While The Runaways may have been "Born to Be Bad," their iconic frontwoman and longtime vegan Joan Jett is all compassion. (Of course, there are also the much-buzzed performances by Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning to look forward to). To celebrate the release of The Runaways, we're revisiting a Joan Jett classic—the "veggie testimonial" that she filmed for us while recording her latest album, Sinner.
If this is part of Joan's "Bad Reputation," I don't think I want to be good.
Have you already seen The Runaways? Give us your review: We'd love to know what you think about the movie.
Written by Logan Scherer
This post originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee.
This month, HBO is premiering an original biopic starring Claire Danes about an extraordinary person, Dr. Temple Grandin. As a young woman, Grandin struggled with the isolating challenges of autism at a time when this disorder was almost a total mystery. Today she is one of the best-known advocates for autism education.
But I applaud Dr. Grandin for another reason, one that has angered some people who work in animal protection: I admire her work in the field of humane animal slaughter. PETA would prefer, of course, that no animals be killed for food, but we won't ignore the horrors of factory farms and slaughterhouses just because we wish that they didn't exist.
Throughout her career as an animal-science professor at Colorado State University and a consultant to the American Meat Institute, Grandin has worked to improve animal-handling systems at slaughterhouses—markedly decreasing, although never able to stop completely, the amount of fear and pain that animals experience.
In 2006, she described to National Public Radio her experience watching cattle get vaccinated at feedlots during the 1970s. Some of the animals would just walk into the holding chutes, she said, while others refused. So Grandin did what no one else had bothered to do before: She went into the chutes herself. As she wrote in an essay for my book One Can Make a Difference, "(I)t seemed obvious to me to get down into the chute and see what the cattle were seeing." She realized that visual details such as shadows, a reflection off a truck's bumper, or people standing up ahead were causing the animals to be fearful.
These insights led her to design cattle-restraining systems that are now used by half the meat plants in North America. "(P)eople just wanted to get out there and yell and scream and push and shove," Grandin told NPR, rather than "remove the things that the cattle were afraid of."
This may seem like a small victory—the cows are still going to be killed, after all—but until the day that we get animals off the dinner plate altogether, is it too much to ask that we do everything we can to reduce the fear and suffering that they experience in the slaughterhouse?
PETA's campaigns against the cruel practices of fast-food chains and against the use of intensive confinement systems that do not even allow animals enough room to stand up, turn around, or extend their limbs have improved the living and dying conditions for millions of animals. As the industries change and evolve, these improvements will apply to billions of animals every year.
The vast majority of people, if they care about animals—and consumer surveys show that they do—support such incremental changes, even if the increments are far from wholly satisfactory to the animals who would rather not be caged at all or hung upside down and killed. In November 2008, for example, California voters made history by approving a ballot measure to ban the use of veal crates, gestation crates, and battery cages on factory farms. Last year, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed a landmark bill that will phase out these same cruel devices in her state as well.
I completely understand the appeal of battle cries such as "Not bigger cages—empty cages!" and I encourage every kind soul who shares this sentiment to make a difference by going vegan. But, as Dr. Grandin has shown us, giving a little comfort and relief to animals who will be in those cages their whole lives is worth fighting for, even as some of us are demanding that those cages be emptied.
Written by Ingrid E. Newkirk
The Zookeeper has recently begun filming at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston. It's a movie about, well, a zookeeper, played by Kevin James, who wins Rosario Dawson's heart with the help of his animal charges. Well, presumably he wins her heart—what a bummer of a movie if not!
Something else that would make the The Zookeeper a bummer? If it used exotic animal "actors" to portray its animal characters, who are voiced by stars such as Cher, Adam Sandler, and Sylvester Stallone.
PETA has written letters to the film's stars asking them not to work with animal "actors" and pointing out that Birds & Animals Unlimited, the company that has been contracted to supply animals for the film, has a long list of USDA violations. Not only that, but exotic animals who are used as involuntary "actors" are routinely subjected to cruel training methods that can include being beaten, shocked with electric prods, drugged, and deprived of food in order to coerce them into performing acts that are stressful, confusing, and even painful to them.
Movies like The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong have exclusively used computer-generated imagery, animatronics, and other technology instead of trained animals—and they ended up being blockbusters. We are suggesting that The Zookeeper use these modern techniques as well—or simply use footage of animals who already live at the Franklin Park Zoo.
As PETA's own Debbie Leahy said, "When it comes to exotic animal characters, the best casting choice is to 'fake it.' Even under the best of circumstances, captivity can be hell for exotic animals."
Written by Amanda Schinke
With Disney's new animated feature Beverly Hills Chihuahua slated for release on Oct 3, animal defenders like your good homies here at PETA are readying our disaster-prevention tactics. While it's sure to be an adorable film, the fantasy world it portrays can have devastating unintended effects. Remember the live-action 101 Dalmatians movie and its sequel? Immediately after the films, there were enormous spikes in demand for spotted pups. In the months after the release of each film, the number of Dalmatians who were abandoned at animal shelters tripled throughout the country. They outnumbered every other breed in 1996. According to an animal-shelter official, someone would turn in a Dalmatian and tell the workers, "This dog didn't act like Pongo in the movie."
Apparently, watching professionally trained dogs perform adorable tricks gives some people the illusion that those breeds naturally behave that way—and then they can't wait to take one home. Unrealistic expectations like this can create a dangerous trend. The impulsive purchases that ensue mean that the dirty backyard-breeding market booms. Ultimately, animal shelters overflow. Now can you see why we're not so happy about this Chihuahua movie?
Disney has included a disclaimer on its Web site and at the end of the film about the lifelong responsibility of taking in an animal companion. Quite impressively, they even encourage people to adopt rather than purchase an animal. While this is sure to do some good, it isn't enough. Not everyone will visit the site, and very few people will stay through the credits of a kids' movie. There was time early on for Disney to put signs in movie theaters and speak out to urge people not to buy Chihuahuas—to let people know that if they do buy the cute little dogs, it means a death sentence for dogs in animal shelters.
Now, if you find yourself among the responsible animal guardians who simply must adopt a beautiful Chihuahua—or you have friends who'd like to—please visit petfinder.com to view a listing of the thousands of animals—including purebreds—who are sitting in your local animal shelters right now. You can search by breed in animal shelters across the nation—and help save quite a few lives in the process.
Written by Missy Lane
Tired of drinking Cosmopolitans all by your lonesome? You're in luck. After six long years of reruns to keep you company, the bawdy bunch from Sex and the City are back for their big screen debut. Here's a little quiz to get you in the mood for the new Sex movie:
OK, it's a trick question. The answer is "all of the above." But let's just concentrate on "C." Unlike SATC's man-eating cougars, real cats don't have a choice of whom they sleep with when they're in heat. So fix your cat. While you're at it, fix yourself a Cosmo and watch our hilarious "Sex and the Kitty" spay-and-neuter spot. To poke fun at a serious subject, nothing is funnier than amorous animatronic animals poking each other:
A full-page ad prominently placed in yesterday's Variety magazine calls on Hollywood insiders who witness or suspect animal abuse in the production of a movie to immediately report the incident to PETA via a special hotline. Here’s what PETA Director Debbie Leahy told the media:
"Beating and shocking great apes who are used as 'actors' is the rule—not the exception. We're urging anyone involved in any facet of film production who has witnessed or suspects animal abuse to report it to PETA immediately."
The story’s been making its way around the blogosphere today. There’s a good write-up on Deadline Hollywood Daily, and there’s tons more info on our campaign to prevent animals from being abused behind the scenes in movies and on TV on our cleverly titled “No More Monkey Business” website.
P.S. Check out the sweet article about the issue on HuffPo.
P.P.S. You can tell Warner Bros. that you’re boycotting their Speed Racer movie through this webform.
In case you missed it, there’s a Battle of the Divas going on in the media right now. Mothra Madonna is evidently trying to throw down with Mariah Carey to see who’s the most popular. Which means that it’s time to either take sides or get out of the way … and I want to take this opportunity to officially throw the weight of the world’s largest animal rights organization (that’s us) behind our girl Mariah, with whom—to use the immortal words of Ol’ Dirty Bastard (RIP)—we go back like babies and pacifiers. Here’s my argument for why Mariah blows Madonna out of the water in this competition:
So there you have it. The forces of good prevail, while the groovy soundtrack of “Touch My Body” plays in the background. If you know of any other Diva competitions that need a’refereeing, just let me know. I’m always happy to help out.
Image credits: DailyMail, the-planets / CC
The dust has cleared a bit from the tornado that hit our area this week, but we’re still working in the community to help people and animals who were affected by the disaster. I found out yesterday that my colleague Cindy Clark, who works in the PETA Foundation’s Development Department, was one of those people—her home was right in the path of the storm. Her story, in addition to being pretty exciting, is also a great reminder about how to keep your head in a disaster like this and do everything you can to ensure that your animals, who rely on you completely, don’t become victims. Here’s how it all went down, according to Cindy:
We evacuated on Monday afternoon when the tornado came to town. I live in a mobile home in Driver. My trailer is fine, thankfully. We were able to return Monday evening, but had to get the heck out of Dodge on Monday afternoon. It's odd, but many people have asked me through the years what I would do with my dogs if I ever had to evacuate. Of course, I would never go anywhere in that situation without my dogs.We were in downtown Suffolk at the school admin building when the storms hit. When we heard the emergency alarm on the radio is basically came down to - you are 20 mins away from your mobile home where your dogs are in the direct path of a tornado. You have 10 mins. GO! We got to my house, snatched the dogs out, and tried to get away from the storm but only made it about 2 miles from my house. Tornado was straight ahead of us on the right about 1/4 mi, elementary school about 200 yards on the left. SCHOOL! We vacated the Suburban we were in the fire lane at the school and proceeded to the gym. We were there for about two hours. My dogs calmed the kids that were scared and crying. They were a nice distraction for the kids and my dogs enjoyed tummy rubs, 10 hands at the time.
We evacuated on Monday afternoon when the tornado came to town. I live in a mobile home in Driver. My trailer is fine, thankfully. We were able to return Monday evening, but had to get the heck out of Dodge on Monday afternoon.
It's odd, but many people have asked me through the years what I would do with my dogs if I ever had to evacuate. Of course, I would never go anywhere in that situation without my dogs.
We were in downtown Suffolk at the school admin building when the storms hit. When we heard the emergency alarm on the radio is basically came down to - you are 20 mins away from your mobile home where your dogs are in the direct path of a tornado. You have 10 mins. GO!
We got to my house, snatched the dogs out, and tried to get away from the storm but only made it about 2 miles from my house. Tornado was straight ahead of us on the right about 1/4 mi, elementary school about 200 yards on the left. SCHOOL!
We vacated the Suburban we were in the fire lane at the school and proceeded to the gym. We were there for about two hours. My dogs calmed the kids that were scared and crying. They were a nice distraction for the kids and my dogs enjoyed tummy rubs, 10 hands at the time.
I like the happy ending. Big thanks are due to the folks at Nansemond Parkway Elementary School and the shelter at Kings Fork High School for being awesome throughout. There’s more info on what you can do to make sure your animals are safe in the event of an emergency here.
BBC News has just released a list of the top 10 most controversial ads of 2007, and our edgy, boundary-pushing counterparts over in the UK made the list with their “Feeding Kids Meat Is Child Abuse” billboard, which received a whopping 68 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority in 2007. The way I see it, with literally millions of advertisements bombarding the public every day with messages about how they can make their teeth whiter, or, like, more effectively pluck their eyebrows, creating an ad that makes people stop and think—and that affects some people so profoundly that they’re shocked out of their complacency—is not an easy thing to do. So, excellent work, PETA UK.
It may not be a message that people want to hear, but it’s an important one (a point that was recognized by the Advertising Standards Authority, which ruled that the ad does not trivialize abuse, as complainants had claimed). And, of course, when you consider that feeding kids meat sets them on the road to a higher risk of heart attacks, diabetes, and a whole slew of other health problems, the ad isn’t exactly misstating the case. Here’s the BBC list of controversial ads, and here’s the billboard that’s causing all the fuss. I’d love to hear what you think.
Any good Marketing professional knows their “ABCs of Marketing”* — Ability to persuade, Businesslike demeanor, and of course, Coercion through bribery. Well, yesterday, in Lynchburg, Virginia, and Beckley, West Virginia, PETA’s Lettuce Ladies rocked all three of these important guidelines as they gave away free gas and vegan sandwiches to 100 people in exchange for a brief chat about the benefits of a vegan diet.
According to the Ladies, there were huge crowds gathered to take advantage of the freebies and find out what all the fuss was about after a news report announcing this unique demonstration, and they gave away hundreds of vegetarian starter kits to a very receptive audience, who were stunned to learn that eating just a single pound of meat is the environmental equivalent of driving more than 40 miles in an SUV. Here’s what my friend and professional Lettuce Lady Colleen Higgins had to say about the experience: "In a time of rising gas prices and rising concern for the environment, we're going the extra mile to help Americans fill up on vegan fuel for their tummies and gas for their tanks." Good stuff.
*I just made these up.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.