Money & Business

PETA Gets The Smiths Back Together … for a Video Game

By / Aug 15, 2016 The Smiths, circa 1985, from left: Andy Rourke, Morrissey, Johnny Marr, and Mike Joyce. (Rhino Records)

The early alternative-rock band The Smiths hasn’t performed together in quite a while, but the well-known animal rights supporters that make up the band were quick to jump at an opportunity to work with PETA on something the advocacy group has gotten good at in recent years: making video games.

The British alternative-rock band The Smiths hasn’t been a going concern for close to 30 years, but one thing it’s well-remembered for is lead singer Morrissey’s hard-line stance against eating meat.

Considering the band named one of its albums “Meat Is Murder,” it only makes sense that one of The Smiths’ few activities since its 1987 breakup is a collaboration with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. (That’s a big deal; despite much speculation, the band has never reunited, even for a single performance.)

This week, PETA released a video game titled “This Beautiful Creature Must Die,” based on the song “Meat Is Murder.” The game, which is playable on PETA’s website and is designed to be embeddable on other sites, is a bit on the gruesome side and includes graphic imagery that some may find disturbing: Players are tasked with clicking on their screens before different kinds of animals get chopped up in a death spiral. The game features a chiptune rendition of the song and has a graphical style that evokes the band’s mid-’80s heyday.

On top of the game, Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr let the advocacy group use the song for a video about the horrors of factory farming. (The video is graphic; it can be viewed here.)

“This game is the biggest social crusade of all, as we safeguard the weak and helpless from violent human aggression,” Morrissey said in a news release. “You don’t get that from Pokémon Go.”

In recent years, PETA has used video games, in-browser and otherwise, as an advocacy strategy—winning plaudits for innovative approaches, such as turning the immensely popular Minecraft into a recreation of PETA’s headquarters, complete with a virtual animal sanctuary.

The organization has been known to use parody to make a point as well, using both Mario and Pokémon (warning: both games include graphic imagery) as a way to get its point across.

“PETA’s ‘This Beautiful Creature Must Die’ has a fun, nostalgic vibe but also calls out animal agriculture as the biggest threat to human health, animals, and the environment today,” PETA Vice President of Marketing Joel Bartlett said in the news release. “After mastering the game, players can save animals and the earth in real life by going vegan.”

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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