The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is claiming the NFL pressured FOX to prevent their Colin Kaepernick-inspired ad from hitting the airwaves on Super Bowl Sunday.
The ad, which was released on PETA’s YouTube channel on Friday, starts with an overhead cut of the animal kingdom and the “Star-Spangled Banner” playing in the background. The video then pivots to a bee, a bear, and a host of another animals kneeling while the anthem plays, spoofing the controversy surrounding NFL players protesting police brutality during games.
In case you need a reminder, Kaepernick protested police brutality and racial inequality in the United States by kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, a move that was co-opted by several other players and resulted with the former 49ers quarterback essentially getting blacklisted from the league. President Donald Trump escalated the conflict by imploring owners to fire players who participated in the protest and asked them to yell, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now!”
Initially, the PETA ad could be read as a tribute to player empowerment, standing against the oppressive forces of racial inequality and police brutality. However, the ad takes on a drastic message tonally around the 45-second mark as a conspiratorially grinning bald eagle turns to the camera, and a message is displayed: “Respect is the right of every living being. #EndSpeciesism.”
“PETA is challenging speciesism, which is a supremacist worldview that allows humans to disrespect other living, feeling beings and to treat their interests as unimportant,” PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement. “Our patriotic Super Bowl spot envisions an America in which no sentient being is oppressed because of how they look, where they were born, who they love, or what species they are. It sends a message of kindness—one that the NFL should embrace, not silence.”
Animal rights certainly matter. Making a blithe comparison to the Black Lives Matter movement, however, is a pretty callous way of attempting to get people on board with this message.
PETA will certainly ruffle some feathers with this ad, but it ought to have learned better from Pepsi’s disastrous venture into addressing the Black Lives Matter movement with a tone-deaf campaign devoid of advocating for any structural change.
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