OK, Daily Disruptors: I need some help with this one.
We know that most social movement organizations seek media attention, at least some of the time, for a variety of reasons. We also know that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is rather effective at using attention-grabbing (if often controversial and heavily criticized) techniques for getting media attention; they pride themselves on it. Whether you love them or hate them, you can’t avoid regularly hearing about what PETA is up to these days.
With that in mind, I’m trying to interpret this piece that appeared on The Daily Show in mid-February.
In it, Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac takes a satirical cut at PETA’s recent lawsuit filed on behalf of five of SeaWorld’s orca whales. The lawsuit declares the whales are slaves, putting SeaWorld in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s 13th Amendment which outlaws slavery.
I would say Cenac’s report makes PETA look pretty bad. In a generous viewing, they seem… insensitive. In a critical one, they seem racist. At the very least, I can’t imagine this is what they had in mind when they agreed to do the interview.
But here’s where I get at little stuck. Even though PETA comes out of the report with egg on its face, does that mean this is a “loss” for PETA? If you were a PETA staff member, what would you have said when you watched it the first time? Or, if you were a researcher trying to code this media mention, how would you code it?
- “Awesome! We just got 5 full minutes of free air time for one of our issues on a super-popular TV show!” [Code: Media Win]
- “Oh no… we look like racists… during Black History Month… on a super-popular TV show… epic fail…” [Code: Media Loss]
- “[your response here]”