Remember the good old days when the most controversial thing the Macy’s Parade organizers had to deal with was a drunk Santa and his detuned version of Jingle Bells? ((“A man’s gotta do something to keep warm…”)) Oh, for the good old days. Apparently the child-oriented joy and holiday spirit of the Macy’s Parade is now being completely swallowed up in a battle with, of all organizations, PETA.
And PETA doesn’t even have an issue with the animals who are in the parade. (Are there any? Aside from drunk Santa, that is…) The real animal actors in this charade of outrage are the silent sufferers—the captive orca whales and the cruelty-oppressed cattle of South Dakota.
To be fair, PETA didn’t enter this fray without being baited. This festivity-obscuring tempest in a fair trade teacup began because members of the South Dakota Cattle Association didn’t want noted PETA activist Joan Jett representing their great state. Jett, famous for her anthemic (and annoyingly contagious) “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll,” was slated to perform on South Dakota’s float with her Blackhearts after another act backed out. And now, because of the complaints from the Cattle Association, Jett has also backed out. Maybe PETA and the Cattle Association would be happy with a more neutral choice, like Animal Collective or something.
Anyway, after one of their own was snubbed, PETA struck back. But not against the South Dakota float. That would have been too obvious. Instead, they staged a protest against Sea World’s float. Because everyone in the universe knows that keeping orcas in captivity constitutes an unconscionable abuse of wildlife. Whether PETA’s protest against the Sea World float was a retaliation for Jett’s removal is unclear.
The whole thing strikes me as rather ridiculous. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is clearly, in itself, not vegan by any means. We’re talking about a holiday whose main celebratory feature is eating turkey. PETA may recommend its meat-flavored tofurkey as an alternative, but the point remains. I don’t know that removing a 27-foot sculpture of an aquatic carnivore will change the fundamental nature of a holiday celebrated by millions of meat-loving omnivores nationwide. And, honestly, what does this controversy even accomplish? Can’t we just allow the Parade to be a fun spectacle to whet our appetite for the holiday season? Why must everything in this country be a cause for divisive controversy?