On Saturday night, PETA US marked its 40th anniversary with a virtual, star-studded party to celebrate its landmark victories for animals and honour the many celebrities who have helped make them happen. Co-hosted by Alan Cumming in Scotland and Edie Falco in New York, the PETA US event toasted “Godfather of Punk” Iggy Pop, rapper and producer Jermaine Dupri, Emmy Award winner Lily Tomlin, actor and singer Kat Graham, and other stars with Humanitarian Awards.
Additional celebrities who made special appearances include John Abraham, Sir Paul McCartney, Mariah Carey, Dolly Parton, Patrick Mahomes, Gillian Anderson, Alec Baldwin, Anjelica Huston, James Cromwell, Casey Affleck, Chrissie Hynde, Belinda Carlisle, Bill Maher, Pamela Anderson, Jackie Chan, Tim Gunn, Jillian Michaels, Kate del Castillo, George Lopez, and Vivien Lyra Blair. Jesse & Joy performed their hit song “Love” all the way from Mexico, and Joaquin Phoenix and his family presented the River Phoenix Activist Award to one of the intrepid investigators with PETA US, who went undercover to expose violence in the wool industry.
Carey presented a Humanitarian Award to her frequent collaborator Dupri for starring in numerous PETA US campaigns promoting vegan eating. Accepting it from his Atlanta studio in the US, he said, “I became vegan for my own health, but the longer I’ve been at it, the more it became about others: the animals, food justice for our community, and the health of our planet.”
In Nashville, Tennessee, in the US, Parton bestowed the prize on Tomlin exactly 40 years after they starred together in the classic film 9 to 5. Tomlin, whose many efforts for PETA US have included a video condemning the marine mammal park SeaWorld as her iconic Laugh-In character Ernestine, said, “As a cause queen, I care about many issues, but when it comes to helping animals, PETA is one-stop shopping.”
Iggy Pop donated his song “Free” to PETA US for a video shining a spotlight on monkeys suffering in medical laboratories and collected his award from his longtime friend Hynde. He said, “Once you reach a certain age, people start giving you lifetime achievement awards, which is nice and everything. I like this one. It means I’ve helped PETA fight back against … [animal] abusers. That’s something I’m really proud of.”
Graham, whose PETA US video encourages everyone to fight speciesism, the human-supremacist worldview that animals are ours to exploit and kill at will, was also recognised. Accepting the award alongside some feisty rescued goats at a farmed-animal sanctuary, she said, “We can all change the world by leading by example, and that is what PETA has always done so beautifully. … The animals like the ones around me right now are not sweaters. Cows aren’t burgers. Mice aren’t lab equipment. They feel. They understand. And they’re not ours to dominate.”
Maher made a special “New Rule” for the occasion called “Listen to PETA”, and Huston (and her cat companions) previewed Breaking the Chain, the documentary she produced about PETA US fieldworkers who help “backyard dogs” in Virginia and North Carolina in the US. Cumming closed the show with a piano performance of the traditional Scottish song “We’re No Awa’ Tae Bide Awa’”.