The national nonprofit animal protection organization The Ark Trust, Inc. has issued a list of what it calls the year’s 10 most egregious anti-animal messages in the media, a list dominated by the network sitcoms “Cosby,” “Spin City,” “Boston Common” and “Townies” and TV commercials for McDonald’s and Denny’s restaurants.
And at least one star of a targeted show, Bill Cosby, is crying foul.
Called the “Second Annual Foe-Paw Report,” the selections (in random order) include a “Cosby” segment in which a man “irresponsibly and remorselessly” charred his daughter’s pet turtle; a “Spin City” episode in which the death of a heroic police dog “is milked for cheap laughs”; a “Boston Common” in which a live turkey dies after eating homemade cranberry sauce, inspiring “tasteless” jokes; and a “Townies” segment in which a man is “mocked and ridiculed” for grieving over the death of his dog.
However, Cosby told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the episode, which he said depicts a turtle accidentally burned in a pile of leaves, was wrongly chastised, since the turtle was not harmed in real life and indeed also survived in the episode.
Saying he’s been “wounded by friendly fire,” Cosby maintained that the segment’s message was, “If you’re going to look after a pet, you should look after a pet correctly.”
Also singled out on the “Foe-Paw” list were a pair of “The World’s Most Dangerous Animals” specials on CBS that “used stereotypic shock value to engender fear and loathing of powerful animals” and the Fox hour “When Animals Attack” for “depicting animals as beings to be distrusted and feared,” according to the Ark Trust.
The group also took McDonald’s to task for using characters from the film “Babe” to sell Happy Meals and Denny’s for using “Babe” “to sell its bacon and egg breakfasts while trivializing the slaughter of pigs.”
And a Vogue magazine October photo layout was cited for glamorizing pony fur, “which is taken from horse fe-tuses and newborn foals.”
Said Gretchen Wyler, prexy for Ark Trust: “We are not condemning entire television series or magazines with this Foe-Paw Report. Rather, we are questioning the sensitivity and wisdom behind singular episodes, articles and commercials that conveyed messages devaluing animals.”