The organization goes on to call the scene “an endorsement of the cruel animal-training industry and an advertisement for the seedy wildlife ‘pet’ trade,” asking Spielberg to edit the scene from the film. This isn’t the first time PETA has made a similar request. The organization often publicly calls out celebrities for working with live animals, from the “Jackass Forever” crew to Zac Efron. On the other hand, PETA’s own track record in terms of sensitivity and ethics certainly isn’t spotless: the organization has outraged the public on several occasions in the past, with ad campaigns that reference Nazis and the KKK, fatphobic messaging, and images that some see as exploitative to women, according to Insider.
While Spielberg’s team doesn’t seem to have responded to PETA’s callout, there are definitely signs aplenty that the film industry is steadily changing its tune on the on-set use and treatment of live animals. Many recent movies, like this year’s streaming horror hit “Prey,” use CGI animals in place of real ones, while Jordan Peele’s blockbuster “Nope” directly addresses the safety concerns surrounding live animal use on film and TV sets. In the past, “Finding Dory” cut out scenes at a SeaWorld-like park in response to reports of the park’s controversies, while even “Jackass” star Steve-o has become an advocate for animal rights over the years.
Audiences will see for themselves whether the monkey makes the final cut when “The Fabelmans” debuts in theaters on November 11, 2022.