A lobster on death row wanders his tank stepping on the tails, eyes, and elastic-bound pinchers of his crustaceous brethren in anticipation of The Hand – that almighty human appendage that reaches down from the surface on each lobsters day of reckoning, the day when he has become plump enough to catch the eye of a hungry shopper, or grace someone’s list of ‘Things To Pick Up For the Party.’ Today is different.
The hand that seizes our doomed lobster inmate is a gentle one. It plucks him nimbly from the dirty green water of his Kentucky supermarket tank and sets him not into a pot of boiling water, but onto a tiled floor. The hand then gives him a loving push toward a pair of sliding glass doors, to the great parking lot of freedom that lies beyond, before going back to the tank to save yet another lobster sentenced to the dinner table. This lobster does not know it, but he has just been set free by the hands of an inebriated Edward Furlong.
You may know Furlong as John Connor from 1991’s Terminator 2. According to a report issued by the Florence Police Department on September 15, 2004, Furlong was arrested for public intoxication, but spent just a few hours in a holding cell before being released on bail. He is one of many known Hollywood vegetarians and a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Lobster liberation is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the celebrity endorsement of all things charitable and newsworthy. Pamela Anderson, Alec Baldwin, and singers Pink and Fiona Apple are just a few celebrities who have jumped on the animal rights bandwagon driven primarily by PETA. However, all the attention these celebrities are attracting, begs a question. Who benefits more, the celebrity or the cause?
David Martosko is the research director for the Centre for Consumer Freedom (CCF). This Washington-based organization believes that Americans, as consumers, have the right to choose what they purchase, eat, drink and how they enjoy themselves without being hassled by organizations like PETA. “Using celebrities is a very savvy strategy,” he says. “But I think Americans in particular are beginning to wake up and recognize, first of all, that celebrities aren’t always PhDs, and secondly that they are generally out to promote themselves.”
PETA’s director of communications, Lisa Lange, says Anderson is a valued member of the group and her contributions have been a huge help in raising public awareness. “Pamela Anderson is so wonderful,” says Lange. “She is one of those rare gems who is always asking questions about everything.”
In early April, Anderson hosted the star-studded Canadian Juno Awards in Halifax. Prior to the event she made several attempts to arrange a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to address the eastern Canada seal hunt and persuade Harper to bring it to an abrupt end. Anderson was denied an audience with the conservative Prime Minister. According to the Canadian Press she donned a tight, white PETA t-shirt the afternoon of the Junos, and made a trip to a red Canada Post box in downtown Halifax to drop off some envelopes, telling reporters “He didn’t want to see me, so we’re just sending him a bunch of letters.”
Martosko refers to the buxom, blonde beauty as a hypocrite. “She’s one of the phoniest people in Hollywood,” he says. “Breast implants, the silicone was tested on animals. The peroxide in her hair is tested on animals and the collagen in her lips is an animal product.” The many celebrities who embrace groups like PETA appear to have their hearts in the right place, but sometimes they simply do not share the extremity of values. Says Martosko, “At the end of the day I think PETA would accept an endorsement from Ronald McDonald if they thought it would get them progress with Americans.”