Is PETA’s ‘State of the Union Undressed’ Porn?

PETA's State of the Union UndressedHave you heard what the folks at PETA are up to? Being a parent and needing to think about responsible parent type things, I’m trying to figure out what they’re thinking. I don’t normally, or um, ever, link to porn, but it’s a necessary evil of discussing what they’re doing, so here we go.

They put together the State of the Union Undressed (WARNING: Link contains full frontal nudity), a video spoofing the state of the union speech featuring a woman touting PETA’s accomplishments while she strips–and she takes it all off.

Now I know PETA is a little out there. I like animals as much as the next guy, and can sympathize with their cause, but I also recognize they go a little overboard. This would be a good example of ‘a little overboard’. I’m trying to figure out how this plan could have seemed like a good idea.


I’m also not such a prude that I think all nudity is bad. I’m not on the censorship bandwagon. I didn’t freak out over Janet Jackson’s Super Nipple and I don’t think The Birth of Venus or Michelangelo’s David need to cover up. Nudity in the proper context can be OK.

Is PETA Peddling Pornography?
But nudity in the wrong context, especially when it’s meant to arouse desire or be sexual is not OK. That’s when you get into pornography, and I think pornography is a bad thing (I wonder where PETA stands on that?). And it’s hard to distinguish PETA’s video from pornography. They’re not making any kind of artistic statement, they’re using sex to promote their message (and they’re not shy about admitting that). They’ve gone beyond simple nudity.

Lisa Lange, the Vice President of Communications for PETA appeared on the O’Reilly Factor to explain why PETA put this video together. I’m not exactly a Bill O’Reilly fan, but I figure if someone is going to attack PETA, O’Reilly would. He really doesn’t. But I did find something interesting:

O’REILLY: So the ends–the ends justify the means?

LANGE: No one’s hurt in all of this. There are no bad consequences. There are only good ones. People are able to watch a video and enjoy it and walk away, maybe understanding that they can come to us for a list of cruelty free products or a vegetarian starter kit.

O’REILLY: If kids go on there, can they get–you know, do you have the kid thing blocked out or something?

LANGE: Yes, yes. You know, you can only see the video if you’re 18 years and older.

No Bad Consequences?
What bothers me is that PETA’s VP of Communications, Lisa Lange, seems to think there’s nothing wrong with exploitive full-frontal nudity : “No one’s hurt in all of this. There are no bad consequences. There are only good ones.”

Yet Lange seems to agree that this isn’t for minors, hence the whole 18 years and older thing (unless they’re just paying lip service to anti-nudity and anti-porn laws). But if their video is bad for minors then it does have potential bad consequences. Which makes you wonder if it should be available at all, behind ’18+ only’ pages or not. Nevermind the kind of harm this type of campaign does to the cause of women (Why is it OK for PETA to exploit women but beer companies or car companies or anyone else who does it gets disapproving looks?).

Bottom line: There are potential negatives to a sexual video like this. PETA is deceiving themselves if they think they’re doing no harm. In fact, they’re counting on the fact that it’s racy. That’s the whole point of exploitive marketing. So who thought this was a good marketing plan? Why is this a good way to convince me to be kind to animals (and objectify women, apparently)? Or is PETA beyond understanding and I should just give up now?

Nudity for Minors
And what about that ’18 years or older’ thing? If you try the link you’ll notice they do in fact have some nice ’18+ only’ lingo. But it’s just lingo. As far as I can tell there’s no blocking software in action. Now I’ll admit I don’t know much about parental controls on the web and maybe they do have this blocked, but I’m a little skeptical.

Plus you can stream it, download it, or slap it on your own site straight from the ‘warning 18+ only’ page, which I think defeats the purpose of an ’18+ only’ page.

You can argue about whether or not it’s their responsibility to keep minors away from it (I’d say parents like me need to be playing the largest role in that game), but the fact that this is an issue at all reinforces the idea that there’s an inherent problem with what they’re doing.

Chickens or People?
What I find most disappointing (and I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised) is that PETA values chickens more than people. They’re so interested in getting their point across that they don’t care about anything else. If a church tried to do this (get their point across no matter the cost, not make an exploitive porno video) they’d be picketed. I hate to make the comparison, but it’s the same kind of ideological approach of Westboro Baptist Church (the ‘god hates fags’ folks) or even Muslim terrorists (granted, PETA doesn’t blow people up, but they do have the same ‘anything offensive to change your mind’ type of tactics). That shouldn’t be OK.

(link via the Donor Power Blog)

3 thoughts on “Is PETA’s ‘State of the Union Undressed’ Porn?”

  1. Hey Kevin, I thought this was a very good, thoughtful post.

    There’s a fairly long history of nudity being used as part of protests, and in that context it doesn’t seem sexual to me. But I agree with you that in this video, it feels exploitive, like PETA is supplying someone for you to leer at while they spout off a rather jokey version of their positions. You also raise a very good point about them being fine with exploiting women when one of their basic tenets is that exploiting animals for any purpose is wrong, but then PETA has always struck me as being a pretty hypocritical bunch.

  2. Wow, I am nearly 2 years late finding this article. I completely agree. I absolutely adore animals. In truth I love animals more than people. I’m not trying to be extreme but I can’t help it. I feel I must be honest. I am absolutely sick of PETA’s tactics. I think it may have a lot to do with that hoochie Lisa Lange. She thinks she speaks for all women. NO WAY. I am not a prude, and I have been told since I was about 14 that I have a grat body, but I take pride in being respectible. I don’t think I need to make that the only thing I am known for, but I think that is exactly what Peta is doing.

  3. These are two very attractive young women. And it is a pleasure to see them, stripped. But isn’t this sexism?? Why no attractive nude young men, with large erections? I am a heterosexual man, and not likely to be turned on by that. But heterosexual women, and homosexual men, might possibly be pleased to see that, and to be influenced by the message.

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