Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations
It’s Superbowl Sunday, and even as I type, the six-hour pre-game show has commenced. We’ll tune in later, for the actual game. Yes, we’re football fans, a somewhat shocking revelation to friends who know us only for our more conscience-driven pursuits. We’ll be cheering for, well, who cares. I default to the NFC when I don’t have a dog in that fight, to use a football-related (OK, Michael Vick-related, close enough) term. Go 49ers, ho-hum. Then again, ravens are birds–and birds are good, and the Edgar Allen Poe/Baltimore connection is most compelling to a former English teacher…so…Go team!
I’ve been a Green Bay Packers fan since before it was cool–for 4-1/2 decades. I kid you not, just in the last two minutes I started thinking about the name “packers,” wondering what could it be that was getting packed in the midwest way back when??? (Upton Sinclair, get thee behind me.) With dread in my vegan heart, I confirmed my worst suspicion: meat! Meat was packed at the Indian Packing Company (slogan: “A meat market on your pantry shelf”). According to that perpetual eruption of information, Wikipedia, shipping clerk Curly Lambeau asked the company to sponsor jerseys and provide use of its athletic field in 1919, and the Green Bay Packers team was born. Ouch. See what happens when you start looking below the surface?
We’ll soon start preparing our game-day chow, which includes roasted-garlic-and-kalamata olive hummus, tortilla chips, vegan pizza, and a growler of Missoula’s own. Maybe there will be room left for “The best chocolate cake ever…that happens to be vegan. I kid you not” (recipe here).
Like everyone else, we’ll watch for the ads. And because Americans profess to love animals, and marketers know that animals sell, we’ll probably see plenty. Oh sure, the Budweiser draft horses will make an appearance, as will the Coca-Cola polar bears, but so will the Skechers French bulldog (view 2012 ad here), who, according to greyhound advocacy group Grey2K USA, will legitimize and glamorize dog racing cruelty for 100 million viewers. Will there be cat wrangling? Chimps in business suits? Pigs crammed in gestation crates and downer cows forklifted to the slaughter floor? Oh wait–that’s part of the fantasy.
See, I’m waiting for the Super Bowl where every ad pushing a product that exploited animals HAS to be followed by one showing the exploitation. Chicken nugget ad? Chicken “broiler” ad. Got milk ad? Cow and calf cruelty ad. Steakhouse ad? CAFO ad. Egg muffin ad? The skinny on “layers.” Bacon-bacon-bacon ad? Thirty seconds of factory farmed pig cruelty. Imagine the many mindlessly masticating mouths filled with pulled pork and barbecued wings that would come to a grinding halt while the bitter, hideous truth graphically played out before their horrified eyes! The gag reflexes and the heaving! The stampede for the restroom! The next-day surge in Field Roast and Tofurky stock on Wall Street!
See what happens when you start looking below the surface?!?
The halftime reprieve would feature vegetarian and vegan entertainers who were billed as such. Prince and Sir Paul have already had their gigs, so the list might include Chrissie Hynde, Moby, k.d. lang, and Bryan Adams. Maybe animal rights rapper IFEEL. There are plenty to choose from.
But the fantasy won’t happen this year. No, this year the status quo of exploitation will continue to reign because blogs such as this haven’t yet brought the animal-industrial complex to its knees (“the animal industrial complex performs the annual repetitious killing of in excess of 56 billion farmed land animals”) though, dog knows, it’s not for lack of trying. It won’t happen this year because you and I don’t have a cool four million to spend on honest ads that show the sufferin’ behind “I’m lovin’ it.” Sadly, I don’t suppose we ever will. *sigh*
And that’s where that growler comes in. Will you be joining me in a pint?
This piece originally appeared at Other Nations last year; it has been partially updated for 2013.