07 December 2007

Even More Celebrity T&A from PETA

sol-ip-sism /Pronunciation [sol-ip-siz-uhm] –noun
1. Philosophy. the theory that only the self exists, or can be proved to exist.
2. extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one's feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption.
[Origin: 1880–85; sol(i)-1 + L ips(e) self + -ism]
—Related forms
sol-ip-sis-tic /Pronunciation [sol-ip-sis-tik] –adjective
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.


I have posted about the solipsistic PETA campaigns here before and so will not repeat myself. I have no idea who Eva Mendes is. I suspect that having no particular talent, she figures that talking about her new puppy in the nude is good publicity. Judging from the Google search I just did, she hit the jackpot (there are already 50 plus stories announcing that she is showing her bare ass for animals. Or is she showing it for publicity?)

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Anonymous Dawei from Beijing said...

The irony of the "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur" campaign is that several of the models who were featured in past ads - Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss, for example - still wear REAL fur!!

08 December, 2007 00:09  
Blogger George LeChat said...

I don't get it. What's the problem?

08 December, 2007 10:48  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...


There are at least three problems.

The first is that these PETA campaigns are playing off of blatently sexist conventions that run through fashion photography and pornography.

The second is that I suspect that each of the women photographerd is at least as concerned with herself - in terms of publicity, self-absorbed moralism or both - as she is with the well-being of animals.

And third, the underlying justification offered by PETA in terms of "rights" of animals is more or less wholly unpersuasive. I noted this last in the earlier post I linked to.

I find little to commend in actions motiated primarily by the self-satisfaction of the actor. And that is what I think is driving PETA folk generally.


That irony is, I think, symptimatic of the fact that those women act (by having their naked shots used by PETA) for precisely the reasons I identify.

08 December, 2007 13:14  
Anonymous jason @ friendlyagitate.net said...

The first is that these PETA campaigns are playing off of blatently sexist conventions that run through fashion photography and pornography.

Check. I understand this part of your criticism, but you've lost me with the self-absorbed moralism/self-satisfaction bit, especially as you've deemed it the motivation "driving PETA folk generally."

The ad may or may not be very convincing to its intended audience (which is, apparently, people who wear fur and whose moral choices are easily influenced by the moral choices of sexy female actors), but how does this make "PETA folk" self-absorbed? Are you saying that animal welfare advocacy is more often motivated by self-satisfaction than, say, peace advocacy, environmental advocacy, or other forms of political activism? It seems rather cynical to discount the notion that maybe these people are actually motivated by their concern for the welfare of non-human animals, even though their attempts at persuasion may sometimes stray wildly from the mark (and flirt with sexism, to boot).

That said, even though I've been a vegan for nearly a year, and have done so primarily out of a desire to pursue a lifestyle that is less harmful to animals, I'm not a big fan of PETA's brand of advocacy. I appreciate that they have done much to direct attention towards animal suffering in this country, but before I became a vegetarian I found that their methods did more to repulse me than attract me. This wasn't because I thought their motives were self-absorbed, but because they often use tactics that are viciously condemnatory and intended to motivate through guilt (which reminds me of the authoritarianism of religious zealotry). Better to inform an audience, or make an argument, and then respect the viewer/reader enough to let them decide for themselves, I say.

10 December, 2007 14:55  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...


Thanks for the comment. I am not calling into question people's decisions about what or how to eat or dress. So there is nothing wrong with vegeterians of vegans. (Although non-animal based clothing substitutes are often an environmental disaster.) But there is a tendency to be moralistic about such things. I think PETA folks often are just that.

In these naked women campaigns too, they tend to promote self-absorption of the following sort:

"A MESSAGE FOM ALICIA: Like most people, I wasn’t always a vegetarian, but I’ve always loved animals. If you ever have a chance to meet a cow, pig, turkey, or goat, you will see that they are just as cute and funny as your dogs and cats and that they, too, want to live and feel love. They don’t like pain. Now when I see a steak, it makes me feel sad and sick because right away, I see my dog or the amazing cows I met at a sanctuary. I’ve been vegan for 10 years, and it’s the single-most important and helpful decision I have ever made. Physically, the effect has been amazing. Once I went vegan, I lost the weight I wanted to lose, my nails were stronger, and my skin was glowing. I feel great, and I look better now than I did 11 years ago.

Being vegan truly is the secret to my life’s joy and peace. I feel physically and spiritually better than I could have ever imagined knowing that I am doing everything I can to reduce animal suffering with simple lifestyle choices like being vegan, never wearing any products made from animals (like wool and leather), and buying only from companies that NEVER test their products or ingredients on animals." (stress supplied)

This is from the PETA web page, Alicia being the naked Ms. Silverstone. Her reasons are all about "me." Being vegan and caring for animals has been good for her nails! So, maybe it is just Alicia who is so inccredibly shallow, but why, then, does PETA post her inane comments?

I actually agree with a lot of the positions animal rights folks take. I just think that their visual tactics are off base and I wish they would stop with the solipsisitic celeb based campaigns. Offer an argument for why fur is bad and whay factiry farms are cruel and bad for the environment and for local agriculture and so forth.
In that respect I do think that animal rights types are more likely to be motivatied by self-centered motivations than those who are concerned for other political causes. The tnedenncy to make politics into a "lifestyle choice" encourgaes that, I think. I do not care if taking a political stand makes you feel good or look good. I care whether it has good consequences out there in the world.

10 December, 2007 21:06  
Anonymous jason @ friendlyagitate.net said...

I see where you're trying to go with this, and groups like PETA would probably do well to listen to criticisms like yours since their goal is to convince as many people as possible, but I think you're being way too hard on Alicia.

Right before her statements that supposedly reveal her incredibly shallow solipsism, she says, "they, too, want to live and feel love. They don’t like pain." That kind of empathy, if sincere, is remarkably unselfish (and rare, considering that many people would think it laughable or naive to attribute such characteristics to common farm animals). So, maybe she sounds a bit like her character in Clueless to you, or maybe you think she's wrong, but it's obvious that she's not just thinking about herself.

Anyway, like I said before, I'm not a big fan of PETA's methods either. As far as I'm concerned the best propagandist for animal advocacy is Gary Francione, who is a law professor at Rutgers, I believe. He doesn't make advertisements, but his arguments on the topic are the most logical and rigorous I've found. He also writes an excellent blog.

11 December, 2007 08:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That Francione link is pretty good reading. Related: check out this link that calls Eva Mendes out on her hypocrisy, which basically shows that she's most likely doing this for her career and the publicity, not for the cause: http://deceiver.com/2007/12/06/eva-mendes-fakes-it/

14 December, 2007 17:43  
Blogger Chriswaterguy said...

So you post pictures of naked women, then slag them off for allegedly being shallow. Who's exploiting who, here?

If you want to be consistent, describe the ads and link to them. But if you actually want to respect these women (who you'd apparently like to protect from exploitation) then refrain from mocking them for not having opinions that consider worthy.

17 April, 2010 08:22  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...


I appreciate your concern for the exhibitionists. I presume you've read the several long posts I've written in response to PETA and its moralism. (If not you can click on the tab at the bottom of this post or simply search for PETA or Animal rights.) And I presume you've read the comment threads too. I disagree with these celebs and with PETA about why and how to protect animals from exploitation. I think their strategies and reasons (such as they are) are self-defeating and so bad for animals. I think creating the appearance of 'doing something' is shallow and counterproductive. Do you have an argument otherwise?

And, Chris, since you seem upset about my exploiting the exhibitionists and their handlers, I showed them all the respect of offering what I think are good reasons for why I think they are wrong. You might've done the same.


17 April, 2010 08:45  

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