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CNN Censorship a Win for PETA

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PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is no stranger to controversy. In fact, the organization has mastered the art of exploiting controversy to spread its animal-friendly message to the masses. So when news broke on Thursday that CNN was pulling a "racy" new PETA ad campaign starring actress and animal rights activist Pamela Anderson, it didn't come as a shock to many.

The new PETA campaign -- titled "Cruelty Doesn't Fly" -- features a scantily clad Anderson working as an airport security guard who strips passengers including Steve-O and Andy Dick of their animal skins, leather, and fur.

The spot was originally expected to launch in all three New York City airports over Fashion Week before expanding to 45 other major airports, but before it could air, the New York Post reports, a representative for CNN Airport Network wrote to PETA bosses to explain that the commercial is "particularly sensitive because children make up part of the demographic in airports."

In an e-mail interview with Advocate.com, openly gay PETA vice president Dan Matthews responded to the controversy surrounding Anderson's sexy spot and discussed the future of the ad campaign as well as just how much CNN's censorship may have helped spread PETA's message even further.

Advocate.com: So Dan, just to clarify, what was it exactly about the Pamela Anderson spot that offended CNN's sensibilities?
Dan Matthews:
CNN said they were wary because there are a lot of children in airports, but I think adults often project their own hangups on children that the kids don't have themselves. But the response has made people want to see the ad, and they've beenlogging on to watch it in every corner of the globe after hearing it was too racy for airport terminals.

So you don't agree with the assessment that the ad was actually too racy?
No, I don't think the ad was too racy; there was no frontal nudity, just a couple butts. It was more playful than porno.

Are there any plans to release the now infamous ad to other media outlets?
When CNN rejected it, we posted the ad on our site, and it made the front page of The Huffington Post, has been on all the entertainment shows, and has snowballed the message that it's not just fur that PETA is targeting, but all animal skins, including leather, snakeskin, and even wool.

And will there be an edited or alternate version of the spot for CNN or other venues?
We're submitting it as in-flight entertainment at various airlines, and if they request an edited version, we'd be happy to supply one.

In retrospect, did PETA go too far as the complaints suggest? And did the organization miss an opportunity to promote its agenda as a result?

I don't think we went too far. It's not like we showed in-your-face crotch shots. But who knows, if the ad makes it on the airlines maybe it'll inspire folks to join the mile-high club.

It would have been nice to have our ad shown in the airport terminals in N.Y. during fashion week, but as a result of CNN censoring it, people all over the world are watching it online, so I think PETA's message was spread even further.

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