Joaquin Phoenix Is Drowning in PETA's Striking New Ad

Actor relates to suffocation of fish

PETA claims that ABC declined to accept this Joaquin Phoenix ad for the upcoming Oscars telecast, deeming it too "political and controversial." It shows the Best Actor nominee "drowning," accompanied by his voiceover: "In water, humans drown just as fish suffocate on land. It's slow and painful and frightening. … Put yourself in their place. Try to relate." Of course, paid media placement is never PETA's real objective. Pushing buttons to generate free coverage is the goal. So, consider my buttons pushed. Directed by Michael Muller, the hippy-drippy ad is certainly striking—creatively, PETA has sunk a lot lower than this. And yet its "Go vegan" message is submerged by the sheer spectacle of the star struggling for breath underwater.