PETA unveiled a new ad on Friday in hopes of it airing during Super Bowl LIV on Sunday. The ad, which many are saying is inspired by Colin Kaepernick’s protest against racism and police brutality against Black and Brown people, merely trivializes the former NFL player’s movement by having animals – yes, animals – kneeling.
In the commercial, the animals – a bee, a bear, dogs, fish, a bald eagle and more – can be seen kneeling to a hummed rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.
The ad concludes with the phrase, “Respect is the right of every living being.”
“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,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk in a press release. “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.”
The ad renders problematic. Why? Because Kaepernick’s movement is a specific one. So basically, PETA pulled an All Lives Matter, or an All Animals Matter, making an issue that disproportionately affects Black and Brown people all-encompassing.
And of course, folks on Twitter are not having it.
“How y’all take a gesture that’s symbolic of black Americans’ fight against police brutality, apply it to animals & think it’s a good idea???” one person tweeted.
Another person said, “Co-optation, appropriation, and why animals are more important than supporting actual Black people: A PETA memoir.”
The NFL has pushed back against the ad. PETA claims that the one-minute ad was submitted to Fox network, which airs the Super Bowl, for consideration and they have not received a definitive response on if the ad will air, but they claim the NFL is putting pressure on the network to reject it.
“The National Football League apparently found our new Colin Kaepernick-inspired ad — with its message of inclusion and respect — too daring and pressured FOX to snub our commercial,” PETA said.
Meanwhile, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy addressed the ad and issued a statement saying, “The Super Bowl game program is designed for fans to commemorate and celebrate the game, players, teams and the Super Bowl. It’s never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement,” according to Yahoo! Sports.
Not that the football league’s response comes as a surprise, but the bottom line is that Kaepernick’s protest against systemic oppression and police brutality should not be undermined by an animated sketch of animals.
PETA’s goal of trying to portray “a world where respect is the right of every being and pays homage to Kaepernick and movements rejecting injustice,” misses the entire point of Kaep’s protest.