Based on reporting from AP
November 15, 2013
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Joan Jet – The Runaways premiere in LA – March 11, 2010
Macy’s is shifting Joan Jett and her band off the South Dakota tourism float to another float in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.. Why? Because she is a supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which promotes a vegetarian diet and criticizes livestock production practices. The move was made after ranchers complained about having a vegetarian and animal rights advocate representing their state.
“I’ve decided to switch from South Dakota to another float because people’s political agendas were getting in the way of what should be a purely entertainment driven event,” Jett said in a statement released Friday. “I will remain focused on entertaining the millions of people watching, who will be celebrating a great American tradition.”
(At this point, I’m wondering exactly what the real story is – did Jett volunteer to move to another float, or did Macy’s volunteer her?)
Macy’s parade spokesman Orlando Veras told The Associated Press on Friday that a new performer for the South Dakota float would be announced later. Veras said that the annual parade in New York City is about entertainment, not advocacy, and that Macy’s was making the change “to prevent any further distraction from our entertainment mission.”
“The Parade has never taken on, promoted or otherwise engaged in social commentary, political debate, or other forms of advocacy, no matter how worthy,” Veras said in a statement. “Macy’s intention is only to provide a range of entertaining elements and performers free of endorsements or agendas.”
South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association President Cory Eich, who farms and ranches near Canova in eastern South Dakota, said Friday that he thinks it was a mistake to select Jett because her stands don’t mesh with the state. “Coming from such a rural state where livestock is such a part of our life, we didn’t think it was appropriate,” he said. Eich said his association “didn’t go looking for a fight,” but once Jett’s affiliation with PETA was brought to the group’s attention, officials felt they had to respond accordingly. “I wish it never would have gotten brought out,” he said.
Dan Mathews, PETA’s senior vice president, said that he’s happy with the publicity generated by the controversy. “Thanks to South Dakota’s reactionary ranchers, people across the country have learned why Joan Jett supports PETA,” Mathews said. “The meat trade can’t stand any scrutiny of its cruelty,” he said.
South Dakota Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen said that many people mistakenly assumed state officials selected Jett to appear on the float. None of the artists the state proposed were available or willing to appear in the parade, so Macy’s selected Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, he said.
All things considered, I suppose it’s reasonable for South Dakota to object to Jett representing them on the float. Maybe hers is not quite the image they want to project, but it is disappointing that politics had to get in the way.