Opinion: PETA and MMA, an Unlikely Combination
By Jesse Heitz
Just this past week, an interesting bit of mixed martial arts news was released to the public. It was an announcement that undoubtedly drew a mixed, and surely puzzled, response. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) launched their own proprietary video game, albeit with graphics that on its face would date the game to the early 1990s.
This game, which is entitled “Cage Fight: Knock Out Animal Abuse”, allows you to cruise the streets and unleash your own brand of violence on animal abusers and researchers. However, the characters that the play embodies in the game are not generic cookie cutter characters. No, they’re actually a trio of professional fighters, who also happen to be vegetarians. The fighters you can choose from are: Jake Shields, Aaron Simpson, and Georgi Karakhanyan. Apparently, at least according to a report by Bleacher Report, there are character-specific bonuses and achievements based on successful completion of the game.
The old saying is “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”, and I firmly believe that this idiom is in play with this most recent PETA campaign. Aside from a select few fighters, which let’s face it aren’t the selling point here. The, hook for avid MMA fans and gamers, is that if you beat the game, “Cheerleader Arianny” will congratulate you, whatever that means.
According to an article published by The Examiner, UFC Ring Girl Arianny Celeste is quite thrilled about the whole project, stating,
“The PETA video game is an absolutely incredible, innovative, unique way to reach people that might not be aware of the cruelty that these animals endure. Gamers that probably wouldn’t go to the PETA website are now becoming aware of things that are happening every
According to a PETA press release made available by The Huffington Post, PETA’s Director of Marketing Innovations, Joel Bartlett, stated,
“Cage Fight doesn’t just show you how animals suffer in laboratories, it gives you the chance to combat cruel animal experimenters, both in the game and in real life. While you’re pummeling sadistic experimenters with MMA fighters’ fists in the game, you can use PETA’s website to fire off protest letters to real-world institutions that cage, poison, and kill animals.”
Is PETA really the star that MMA should hitch its wagon to? Granted, this is far from a widespread endorsement of PETA by the MMA community, but nonetheless, these four personalities are inadvertently serving as representatives of an entire sport. A sport, which despite its tremendous growth in popularity over the last decade or so, is still viewed by many, particularly the powers that be in New York, as glorified street-fighting or barroom-brawling.
In fact, aforementioned press release was contained within a Huffington Post article entitled, “PETA’s New Video Game ‘Cage Fight’ Lets Players Get Violent With Animal Abusers”. A similar article appeared on MSN with the title of, “PETA Video Game Lets You Fight Animal Abuse By Fighting Animal Abusers”.
Don’t get me wrong, I despise animal abuse. Hell, I’m a card-carrying member of the ASPCA. However, I think anyone who represents MMA, whether they acknowledge such a status or not, need to be wary of getting too close to an organization such as PETA, which many people find to be radical. They should also take care in avoiding extending their support to any product or initiative that reinforces the knuckle-dragging and unsanctioned violence stereotypes that MMA’s critics cling to.