Even the most devout skeptics probably didn’t see it coming — the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced this week it will launch a pornography website.
Anyone who hasn’t seen Pamela Anderson’s full naked bod will have to wait until December, when the porn site will be up — assuming the exhibitionist activist won’t be too shy to shed for seals.
PETA’s move is surprising only because most groups claiming to work for the betterment of society don’t peddle porn.
PETA’s explanation is that by attracting people to its porn site — peta.xxx — it will also disseminate information about veganism, thus sparing millions of animals from forks.
It makes sense, in a perverted sort of way. Soft-core porn has entered mainstream culture, as can be seen almost any night on TV, either in commercials or shows.
Scenes that a generation ago would have given a movie an “R” rating can now be seen on post-primetime TV.
PETA has gained fame and fortune from the soft-core approach, by featuring semi-naked young women in its advertising campaigns and media stunts. (And the media — and many of its consumers — are easy suckers for images of semi-naked young women.)
PETA is highly media savvy, but it may have overlooked some important aspects of going into full-fledged porn.
First, there is the obvious possibility of a backlash, of people finally becoming fed up with PETA’s exploitative approach and rejecting the group’s message.
Second, peta.xxx will likely reach only half its intended audience.
The vast majority of porn users are men. PETA still faces the dilemma of how to convince half the world’s population — women — to become vegan. Oh, well — if women will at least strip in the meantime, PETA will presumably keep working on it.
At the opposite end of the surprise scale, there was nothing shocking about the Targa accident in Fortune that sent a 67-year-old woman to hospital with serious injuries Sept. 15. It was entirely predictable, and had been predicted by people who are opposed to holding Targa in Newfoundland.
Critics of Targa — and I’ve been one — have said for years it is inevitable that someone will be seriously injured or killed during the event.
One Telegram reader, in a letter to the editor, had this to say in September 2009, two years before this month’s accident: “Well, I guess it’s going to take a tragedy to put a stop to this Targa insanity. Our town council, with total disregard for public safety, invited Targa into our neighbourhood to play Russian roulette with its residents without any input whatsoever from the affected neighbourhood. … There is no safety involved in this race, only pure luck. Sooner or later that luck will run out, and once again some innocent victim will pay the price.”
Equally predictable was the response by Targa officials to the accident in Fortune.
In a decade of the event, it was the first accident involving a spectator, they said.
Note the phrase, “involving a spectator.” Over the years, there have been plenty of Targa accidents — incidences of cars going off the road, rolling, hitting trees, ending up in water, etc. (“Look! A floating Ferrari!”)
The accident in Fortune proves Targa’s detractors were right — that eventually a serious injury to a bystander was bound to happen.
Targa boosters — including the provincial government, which has given the organization hundreds of thousands of dollars — also like to boast Newfoundland is the site of its only event in North America.
That fact can be looked at two ways. First: how fabulous. Second: how strange; why don’t other jurisdictions want Targa?
Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.