There's something about censorship that tends to make large numbers of people sympathize with the censored, almost no matter what kind of material is being shut out.
That's why it should be no surprise to the activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), that their protest and demand that auto-maker Chrysler remove a chimpanzee from a television commercial was met with sarcasm and, now, a string of viral plugs online.
The ad that so tweaked the animal-rights group features a special sale on vehicles narrated by actor Michael C. Hall, best known in recent years as the lead in Showtime's serial killer drama "Dexter".
In his typically deadpan vocal tone, Hall recounts the particulars of the auto-maker's bargain and opines, "This event could not be more amazing."
Then, the chimp walks on screen, wearing what appears to be an Evel Knievel outfit.
"Oh wait," Hall says. "There's a monkey. I stand corrected."
The chimp pushes down on a plunger and jettisons confetti over a parking-lot.
"After examining information supplied by primatologists at PETA and Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, carmaker Dodge has agreed to remove footage featuring a chimpanzee 'actor' from its 'Tent Event' television commercial," PETA announced after sending Chrysler details on the abuse of chimps in Hollywood.
They probably didn't expect the response would be so snarky.
In the revised ad, there is no chimp, but the Evil Knievel suit and confetti explosion are still there. The so-called "monkey" is simply erased.
Hall's narration is slightly different too: "Oh wait. There's an invisible monkey. Unbelievable."
In the past, PETA has protested Dodge's use of elephants from Ringling Bros. in advertising, calling out a "a lengthy history of animal abuse and neglect" at the circus.
Part and parcel to the point made to Chrysler, PETA also has a site called "No More Monkey Business," which highlights many of the abusive conditions inflicted upon members of the great ape family in the process of training animals to become "actors."
It is a common practice at training facilities to introduce young chimpanzees to their new jobs and masters by conducting what the industry calls "breaking the spirit." Normal, healthy young chimpanzees are naturally playful, curious, energetic, and mischievous, but these traits don't make them good "actors." So they are subject to repeated episodes of beating and other painful acts of cruelty. Sarah Baeckler, a chimpanzee expert who volunteered at Malibu's Amazing Animal Actors training compound, expressed horror over the needless violence she witnessed every day. "The trainers physically abuse the chimpanzees for various reasons, but often for no reason at all," she said. "If the chimpanzees try to run away from a trainer, they are beaten. If they bite someone, they are beaten. If they don't pay attention, they are beaten. Sometimes they are beaten without any provocation or for things that are completely out of their control. I was specifically instructed to hit or kick them at the first sign of any aggression or misbehavior."
Some trainers will stop at nothing to force an ape to "behave," beating him or her with fists, wooden sticks, rocks, metal rods, or using electrical shock devices.
Still, that won't stop Chrysler from coming out ahead on this one.
The Consumerist put it best: "The revision is an act of surreal genius, and a giant finger to PETA pantywringers.