Your Guide to the Reality of Animal Circus

"The academic panel concluded that there appears to be little evidence to demonstrate that the welfare of animals kept in travelling circuses is any better or worse than that of animals kept in other captive environments" - Executive Summary of the DEFRA Circus Working Group 2007

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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Rouster’s Top 10 Hypocritical Anti-Circus Celebrities (Number 4)

Released into the public domain by PETA.Image via Wikipedia 

15% of the vote


Steve-O is a celebrated stunt performer. He made his name through the phenomenally successful MTV show, “Jackass”, which inspired the craze of filming amateur pranks, stunts and self-inflicting injuries. His entire career has been based off his time in this series and the feature film spin-offs.  Since he “Jackass” days Steve-O has generally been featured in reality TV shows and even had his own TV show, “Dr Steve-O”. He is known for anarchic and manic – which, of course, translates as “cool” to his target young audience – image. He has been arrested on many occasions for drugs-related charges, as well as violations of obscenity laws (most notably stapling his scrotum to his leg) and for charges of assault. He has also spent time in mental institutions. All of this notoriety has obviously helped keep him in the public eye and his products selling. 

Why are they anti-circus? 

Steve-O was a graduate of the Barnum and Bailey Circus Clown College in 1997. However, he wasn’t selected to work on the show. Instead he worked as a clown in Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop flea market. Here he filmed many of his various stunts and used them to launch his career on MTV. However, any love for his circus career roots seems to have been short-lived. He openly condemned Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus on a video for “PeTA 2”. Amid throwing insults and general profanity directed at the USA’s biggest circus company he accused them of abusing their animals and bringing in a PR manager to the college that told all the students “You have no opinion” if someone from the press asks you about animals in circuses. Steve-O went on to talk about the use of bull-hooks (aka ankus, the traditional elephant leading and directing tool used to handle domesticated elephants) and how said instruments were hidden by the use of tassels. He provided little in the way of evidence that he saw went on behind the scenes of the circus, after all he only served in their college, which is a separate entity from the actual show (although run by the same company). Much of what he says in the video seems to have been the usual spoon-fed animal rights propaganda we have come to expect. In a YouTube video with NOAH Steve-O cites his experiences with the RBBB Clown College, particularly what he claims to have been an aggressive approach by their PR team, to be the starting point of his animal rights support. 

Steve-O has become a darling of PeTA, comparable with Pamela Anderson, and in 2011 he won the Nanci Alexander Award, a “Top PeTA Honor”[US sp.] according to their blog. Steve-O has been an enthusiastic supporter of all their key campaigns. This includes going nude to support their anti-fur campaign, opposing animal experimentation and, of course, his stance against the use of animals in entertainment. 

Why is this celebrity a hypocrite?

Steve-O may have not stepped back into the circus ring, but he has had little trouble “working” with animals.  This has included regurgitating a live goldfish, an old magician's stunt few animal circuses in the developed world now endorse due to the animal welfare issues. PeTA often bang on about how dangerous the media can be when they convey a certain message about animals to the general public. In fact, it is fast becoming a regular complaining tactic of many animal rights and some misguided animal welfare groups to say that even if an animal was not actually harmed or mistreated in showbusiness, the impression may influence others to mistreat animals. It's a rather hypocritical argument given the scenes of abuse and alleged abuse they use like pornography on their campaigns, but in this instance they might have a point. Put "Steve-O swallows goldfish" into a search engine and you will find a whole host of imitators.

He also didn't see any problem in doing a job for Sneaux shoes, where he allowed a captive young alligator bite his shoes.  He has used zoo, pet and farm animals for his stunts. Many stunts that helped made his name involved using wild and domestic animals, often irritating them in a type of extreme version of “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin’s style.This was particularly evident when Steve-O and Chris Pontius presented a wildlife spin-off of "Jackass" in 2003 called "Wildboyz". Here the two presenters traveled the globe to experience the customs and cultures of various indigenous populations and interacted with the local wildlife. According to the show's unofficial blog:

"Adding to its general appeal is the frank homoerotic behavior of the guys, in general, towards each other, and their frequent frank assessments of the endowments of the animals they are tormenting.[Rouster's bold and underlining]"

 Another rather shameless selling point of the show that seems to have escaped the notice of Steve-O's animal rights fans is his complete admission of being untrained in these encounters. In short, he was doing no more than teasing (and therefore mistreating) the animals. Rouster would also like to add that few of the animals were even animals in their wild state. For example, here is Steve-O and Chris Pontius tormenting captive-bred lions and chasing wildlife:

The unofficial site makes this statement about its demise: 

 The show ended in 2006, after only 4 seasons. The reason for not making a fifth season came after the death of Steve Irwin, in which Pontius and Steve-O commented, saying "If this could happen to him, and he's a professional, we've got to look out for our own safety."

Debate often rages over the line between bravery and stupidity. I think the above statement by the hero of today's piece demonstrates which side of the line Steve-O stands. 

Finally, here is PeTA's 2011 highest accolade winner demonstrating his respect for our lower forms of life. Recorded for the 2006 film "Jackass 2" here is their ambassador for compassion using a sea-cucumber as sexual object. Although quickly regenerated what this marine animal (an echinoderm) is expelling are its internal organs.

Rouster sees Steve-O as a hypocrite because he not only uses animals for entertainment he doesn’t even train them, but merely annoys them and even puts them in danger for cheap entertainment. 

It is quite rare for Rouster to agree with PeTA on anything. However, in this instance we think that this self-professed idiot is the perfect celebrity ambassador for their group. It also nicely shows the contempt PeTA has for the youth of today.

Astley's Legacy was formed to counter the misinformation and propaganda spread by animal rights activists. As well as fighting the corner for circus animals and their trainers, we are here to promote and celebrate the cultural heritage of circus in general, and especially in the country of its birth - Great Britain. For more information please see our Facebook group
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