<National Report>The hit HBO series Game of Thrones is known for it’s scintillating visuals, deeply-woven political intrigue, scandalous sex scenes, and the heartbreaking deaths of numerous beloved characters, all of which takes place in a vivid fantasy world. But to the PETA organization, the show should be better known for it’s allegedly unethical displays of “animal murder and torture.” And the group is ready to spend millions of dollars to get their point across.
PETA (“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals”) announced on Thursday a new marketing and lobbying initiative which they hope will end with the cancellation of the popular drama series, preferably before the end of the show’s fourth season. At the heart of their new strategy will be a multi-million dollar ad campaign targeting the show’s key demographics through social media, a “ground campaign” with protests at Game of Thrones viewing parties and HBO’s headquarters in New York City, and even lobbying efforts with the FCC in the hopes of getting the show canceled at the government level. If all that fails, PETA will be setting up a booth at the San Diego “Comic Con” convention this summer, and will devote several months to preventing the show’s fifth season from being aired, if not developed.
“This is one of the most grotesque, brutal, unforgiving displays of animal cruelty I’ve ever seen on television,” said PETA co-founder Ingrid Newkirk, who is personally involving herself in the campaign. “So far they’ve shown deer and rabbits being skinned, birds being shot with bows and arrows, various animals being hunted, endangered wolves being brutally murdered by mobs of angry humans, doves being slashed with swords, and pigeons having their necks snapped. And the violence against horses is almost unfathomable. Horses are beheaded, stabbed, shot, their throats slashed, their hearts eaten by people… never before has any television show, or feature film for that matter, promoted this level of violence against horses or animals that cannot defend themselves. Game of Thrones needs to be stopped, and PETA plans to be at the forefront of making that happen.”
Newkirk admits she’s never seen a full episode of the show. During an interview earlier this week with NPR’s Steve Inskeep, which mostly focused on PETA’s plans for 2014, Newkirk explained that “animal cruelty aside, it’s not really my kind of television program. The only things I’ve heard about it, beyond those dreadful scenes, has been about rape, incest, prostitution, and brutal murders taking place whenever characters get married. I don’t see how anyone could possibly enjoy a show like this. We’d be doing the world a favor by getting it canceled.”
Award-winning Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage, who plays the popular character Tyrion Lannister on the show, is himself a member of PETA and a vegetarian, but on this issue he seems to disagree with Newkirk and the organization. “We’ve never had an instance of any animals being harmed on our show, not that I’m aware of,” Dinklage said in a recent interview with an English newspaper. “This is a fantasy series, and in the world these characters inhabit, animal cruelty is just a part of their everyday lives. They can’t simply walk into a grocery store and get food like we can today. I don’t think we’re glorifying these animal deaths, and if I did, I wouldn’t be a part of this series.”
If PETA is successful, Game of Thrones would not be the first HBO show to be canceled due to allegations of animal cruelty. In 2012, the show “Luck,” starring Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, and Dennis Farina, was canceled after having aired just a single season. PETA played a central role in that show’s cancellation as well.