When we open our mail most people tend to fear things like, oh, tons of bills and the mailers from the Episcopal church. Not so much for PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk, who "knows that finding a bloody animal organ or a vicious death threat is not just likely — it's expected." Depending on your POV, Newkirk is a freedom fighter of the very best or worst kind: Not only does work to put an end to animal cruelty, she manages to maintain a sense of humor (or, as some say, press whoredom) while doing it. And yes, by "it" we do mean staging "pranks" (her word) such as dumping buckets of red paint on Vogue's Anna Wintour every opportunity she and her cronies get. Says Newkirk of PETA's less-than-conventional means of expression: "You may feel more comfortable just arguing things intellectually. But that isn't the way society is now; it's all Paris Hilton and Britney Spears and 'Show us your tits.'" Indeed. So, truly, what else is an animal rights activist left to do other than staging such spectacles?
Newkirk and her work at PETA are the subject of a new documentary that premiered on Monday on HBO entitled I Am an Animal (which left Anna [Holmes] inconsolable for the good part of the evening). And despite the seriousness of the subject, Newkirk still manages to evoke a sorta Karen Walker je ne sais quoi. Of the fashion industry, Newkirk says:
The young designers, in the main, are really great. I think the old fogy designers like Karl Lagerfeld and so on, and the desperate designers like Alexander McQueen who want to be bad boys — Jean Paul Gaultier — they really want to be like, 'Look at me, look at me! Aren't I just shameless?' They want to be outrageous—'Oh, très!'
Okay, even if you're one of those people who feel that she's bad for the movement because she is a ridiculous scene-stealer, well hell — who could hate anyone, really, who calls Lagerfeld an old fogy, McQueen desperate, and Gaultier a wannabe? Which really, to borrow fashion terminology, shows a much stronger point of view than a silly ol' fur coat, anyway. Oh, très.
The Little Lady Who Fears Nobody [NYObserver]
Related: I Am An Animal [HBO]