Pixar released a trailer for Toy Story 4 after the Super Bowl last weekend, and the film seems pretty innocent and family-friendly — unless, of course, you ask PETA. According to the animal-rights group, the trailer was actually “problematic” because the “Bo Peep” character was shown carrying a crook.
“Bo Peep’s look in Toy Story 4 is updated, but her shepherd’s crook still promotes exploiting gentle sheep for their wool,” the group stated in a post on Twitter. “This has no place in Bo Peep’s ‘modern’ look, Pixar!”
The post called Bo Peep’s “look” — that is, the “look” of carrying a crook — “problematic.” PETA further addressed the issue in a statement on its webpage, which called for the crook to be removed. “PETA is calling on director Josh Cooley to complete the character’s transformation by retiring her crook — a tool historically used to hook lambs by the legs and neck in the wool industry,” the statement reads.
“A ‘badass’ Bo Peep would likely bop the shearers, not the sheep,” wrote Laruen Thomasson, PETA’s manager of animals in film and television. “A symbol of domination over any animal is a thing of the past and not something that belongs in Toy Story 4.”
“Won’t you please consider removing Bo Peep’s crook from the final animation?” Thomasson asked. The statement also includes a letter to Cooley, which asks, “Why hasn’t she ‘lost’ that outdated and cruel crook?”
“You may not know that these ‘shepherd’s crooks,’ are used solely to hook a sheep’s neck and force these gentle animals to move,” Thomasson wrote in the letter. “That isn’t something that a progressive Bo Peep would countenance in 2019!” The statement also includes a reference to PETA’s own research on “sheep operations on four continents” and to its alleged finding “that the animals are beaten, stomped on, mutilated, and even skinned alive for wool.”
Oh boy. A few things here. First of all, it is important to remember that Bo Peep is not real. That’s right: She’s a completely made-up, animated character. This means that, regardless of what sort of tools or accessories she’s carrying, she’s actually not going to be hurting any sheep. Why? Because, in order to hurt sheep, you have to first of all be real.
Make no mistake: Reports of animals being abused like the ones referenced in the statement are disturbing. I don’t like to hear things like that, and I completely understand why they might make someone upset. Here’s the thing, though: If there are real sheep being actually hurt out there in the world, why not focus your energy on that? Why not make that the focus of your press release? It seems like that would be a better way to change hearts and minds than attacking a beloved fictional character for her fictional shepherding tools. If anything, those kinds of attacks hurt the cause more than they help it — because they make you sound far too ridiculous to even be worth listening to.