Om Sweet Om

Joanna Krupa37.jpgWell, those wacky folks at PETA have done it again. In their new ad campaign, model Joanna Krupa bares it all (well, almost all) to raise awareness about adopting abandoned pets companion animals. The big deal? The object used to strategically cover Krupa’s, um, you know, stuff, is… wait for it… a cross. 

Go on, if you must,  go look at the ad here if you want to. Just hurry back, okay?

Beliefnet’s own Ellen Leventry posted about the controversy on the Idol Chatter blog:

Wearing nothing but wings and a halo, Krupa’s not-so-angelic bits
are strategically covered by a large cross she holds in her hands
The text of the ad
urges pet owners to be angels and adopt animals from shelters rather
than purchasing them at pet stores, which are often supplied by puppy
and kitten mills….

…I must admit that even I,
a liberal, mainline Protestant, take issue with it. This isn’t the
scene from Austin Powers where sausages, teacups, and other items cleverly conceal the shagadelic spy’s naughty bits.

I tend to cut PETA a lot of slack. Sure they raise eyebrows and act provocatively, but in our culture you’ve got to raise some eyebrows to be heard. I get that.

But the naked-Krupa-cross-adopt-a-pet thing is just too much. And not just because of the cross.

(For the record, the use of the cross does seem to me  — a
non-Christian —  to be an inappropriate and unnecessary use of a
revered religious symbol. In fact, I think the cross is being abused on
two levels, here — one in being turned into a quasi-sexualized object
by Krupa, and again in being reduced to a cheap publicity stunt, to
shock people into talking and blogging about the ad. Would I be
comfortable with PETA using Hindu images in the same way? Definitely
not. Not cool, PETA.)

But even notwithstanding the cross
controversy, the problem I have with the campaign is that, well, it
makes no sense. At least PETA’s “I’d rather go naked than wear fur”
campaign had a discernible (and arguably valid) use for the nudity. And
with PETA’s controversial “Jesus Was a Vegetarian” campaign, agree or
disagree, it did provoke thought. Here? No such luck. What do Joanna
Krupa taking off her clothes, a cross, angels, and puppy adoption have
in common? It sounds like the set-up to a dirty joke, but there’s no
punchline. Are people discussing the ad? Absolutely! Are they
discussing the merits of adopting animal shelter puppies and kittens?
Not so much.

It seems PETA would rather provoke lust than thought. 

don’t know how many people have gone vegan (or given up fur, or adopted
animal shelter animals) on the basis of lusting after an almost-naked
spokesperson. In Hinduism, the passion that is evoked from ads like
this one is called kama, or unbridled lust. In the second
chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna calls it the “all-devouring
enemy”. Why? Because at its core, kama is all about
objectifying and exploiting — using another living being as a vehicle
to gratify my own senses at any cost. Whether that kama is
directed towards turning a cow into a Big Mac or turning women into a
cheap one-dimensional fantasy (or, as in the case of Hooters, both), it doesn’t uplift my mind or inspire me
towards positive action.

Krishna with cows copy.jpg

On the other hand, the reason that countless people (myself included) choose to support animal rights is because of kripa — Sanskrit for “mercy” or “compassion”. Kripa
is Hinduism’s ideal lens through which to view the world. It demands
that we see other living beings — whether four legged or two legged
ones — as brothers and sisters, with inherent value, dignity, and

This way of looking at all living beings, I always
thought, was what PETA was really all about, beneath all the hype and
celebrity endorsements and edgy billboards. But in choosing to showcase
Krupa, I can’t help but feel that PETA may be losing sight of the
message of kripa that is supposed to be at its core.

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