The latest PETA publicity stunt targeted gamers, specifically fans of Games Workshop's notoriously grimdark futuristic wargame Warhammer 40,000. The animal rights organization called upon GW to remove fur from their tabletop game models, which, gamers were at pains to point out, are representations of fictional characters and contain no actual fur whatsoever.
The stunt was at least effective in getting people to talk about PETA again, even if it was to pour scorn and mockery upon them. It was unlikely that PETA expected to actually get a reaction out of Games Workshop. But it looks like they did get an official response of sorts after all.
For anyone needing an intro to WH40K's grimdark brutality, check out this trailer for Dawn of War III:
And weirdly, it looks like Games Workshop is actually telling their soldiers not to wear fur. Upon pain of death.
Fur The Emperor
Well, fictional problems demand fictional solutions. Games Workshop's response actually came in the form of an in-character bulletin for the attention of Imperial Guardsmen (the regular army of WH40K's Imperium, as opposed to the power-armored Space Marines).
The Regimental Standard is a tongue-in-cheek publication that addresses the beleaguered guardsmen of the Imperium of Man, counseling them on matters of tactics, protocol and lifestyle. All posts are written as jingoistic Imperial propaganda, although generally with more lashings of GW's trademark black humor and irony than such a propaganda organ could be expected to get away with in-universe.
In a post entitled 'Fur The Emperor', The Regimental Standard admonishes those guardsmen who have the indecency to strip the fur from their enemies:
It has come to our attention that the more unscrupulous of you have been using the pelts, hides and even skins of fallen xenos beasts to supplement the warmth* afforded by your combat fatigues. This is unacceptable.
Some may question why such restraint is required, but it is our conduct on the battlefield, and our ability to maintain valorous composure even in the most horrendous of circumstances, that separates us from the filthy Orks, the wretched Eldar and the foul forces of the Archenemy.
Thanks PETA, for looking out for those cute and cuddly furred animals of the 41st Millennium, like this adorable scamp:
By keeping things in-universe Games Workshop highlights the absurdity of railing against fur use in a fictional world filled with ultra-violence and over-the-top cruelty. By all means, blast, bludgeon and burn the aliens in every conceivable way—but never be so cruel as to wear their fur.
In the pursuit of victory and survival, and in the name of the Holy Emperor of Mankind, you will – of course – be required to engage in deadly combat with terrifying foes that may well be trying to flay you alive, but that’s no excuse to stoop to their level
Even looting furs already worn by savage alien species is unacceptable. In the harsh totalitarian Imperium, violating the uniform dresscode is just asking for your own execution.
Although it is right to criticize the fur industry, it looks like Games Workshop treated PETA's call for them to stop sculpting fake fur on models (PETA, remember, supports wearing fake fur as clothing) with all the seriousness it deserved.
The Regimental Standard leaves us with a sobering thought for the day and the closest thing we'll get from a serious official response from Games Workshop:
‘Be sound of mind or your argument is lost before it has begun’
Have PETA undermined the serious issue of fur industry cruelty by going after a game? Or did it inspire you to take action against fur fashion?
[Source: The Regimental Standard]