Now I know that by writing this I am buying to what is the utterly flawless PR operation of morally dubious and generally confused animal cruelty charity PETA, and giving them some free press, but...
I recently wrote a piece for the excellent new blog The Vagenda (a must-read if you love How To Be A Woman and hate Cosmopolitan) on how violence has become intrinsic to our daily language, and it seems to have become so acceptable that it's being used in advertising. PETA's latest ad explains the phenomenon of BWVAKTBOOM, a trivial contraction which essentially implies that men who go vegan can suddenly 'bring it like a tantric porn star'. In the ad, we see the traditionally nondescript woman (most commonly found on a French catwalk) limping painfully back to the house of her wimpy little boyfriend (your typical male vegan, apparently) with a neck brace on due to the violent sex he subjected her to due to his now Casanova-like status. Yes, boys, meat might make you look like a real man, but only giving the stuff up makes you perform like one.
So, in the eyes of PETA, the ideal man should perform through violence, exerting his dominance like the king of the animal kingdom. The exact kind of violence the fur and meat industries are subjecting to animals, PETA is encouraging its viewers to put their own bodies through some serious paces. Will we then understand what the animals go through? (Not unless flaying is your thing) Will the idea that a simple thing such as giving up steak really make every man a sexual dynamo? (Keep dreaming, Cosmo) Will women really be able to sell this ad to their boyfriends with straight faces? (Jog on, PETA)
So what is the thinking behind this ad? Shot in a style better reserved for fashion magazines or virals spoofing hipsters, PETA is clearly hoping, with their social media messaging pushing us to 'make it viral', that shock tactics will once again push this ad global, and they're probably right - the video on PETA's official channel has already had over 1.5 million views. But if anything, it's gone viral for its ability to shock, the jaw-dropped faces of actual vegans, and the sheer bonkers nature of it. Brand managers will use PETA as an example of a brand that has no idea of what its message is any more, and more importantly, who the animal they are trying to protect even is. Sex sells to the Neanderthal male, so an animalistic advert featuring two people copulating, rabbit-like, so violently that one ends up in hospital is so twisted that you wouldn't be too surprised if PETA was actually run by animals. It's a strange mirror on society and upsetting on those grounds alone.
It's quite clear that PETA has no objection objectifying womens' bodies rather like their enemies do (and that's the fashionistas, who judge womens' bodies while decked out in fur). But it's one thing to objectify it, and another to promote damaging it. In their quest to protect animals, they appear to have betrayed their own species.