The unofficial theme for this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade appears to be animal rights: first, Joan Jett gets booted off the South Dakota float for being a vegetarian, and now activists plan to protest SeaWorld's confinement of whales.
SeaWorld's been the target of renewed protests in the wake of a new documentary Blackfish, which digs into the amusement park's allegedly inhumane treatment of its whales. And though SeaWorld argues that the documentary has "no basis" for its negative portrayal, PETA and other animal rights activists are vying to oust the float from the Thanksgiving Day Parade. "Keeping an orca in small concrete tank is like forcing a human to spend its entire life in bathtub," PETA spokesperson Ashley Byrne told us. "Macy's needs to catch up and realize including this float celebrates cruelty to animals in what is supposed to be family event. It ruins the parade."
The hullabaloo has to be a little embarrassing for Macy's, which prides itself keeping the parade apolitical. The retailer has a simple solution for all of this controversy, however: pretend it just doesn't exist! "There is no controversy,” Parade executive producer Amy Kule told The Associated Press yesterday. “Our goal is to entertain and that is their goal as well." (Controversy magnet and animal rights activist Alec Baldwin, meanwhile, called SeaWorld a "cruel prison for whales," and is participating in the protest.)
For now, Shamu and Friends will stay in the parade, though a petition with many thousands of signatures calling for the float's removal has been circulating—Byrne tells us PETA will continue to protest, and it "remains to be seen" what the organization will do if the float makes it through next week. Meanwhile, Joan Jett—who was removed from the South Dakota float after ranchers protested her vegetarianism and work with PETA—will be strutting her stuff on some other less-meaty float instead.