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I’m an animal with feelings, get me out of here

Source: Sanat Kumar Dash (via Unsplash)

by Kat Smith

If you belong to Generation Z, chances are you have heard the phrase ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ before you took your first steps. Starting in 2002, ITV’s reality show is in its 18th series, and has become a household name.

But then Chris Packham, who actually cares about things, ruined everything. Even after the show said it would stop including live animals in eating trials, he penned an open letter to condemn the show for its treatment of animals: “Once again, we call on ITV to rethink this part of their show and replace it with trials which strike fear into willing human contestants and not the animals who unfortunately have no say.” It’s a powerful call to arms, yet was met with a pretty unsatisfying response from an ITV spokesperson, who essentially told Packham that he had no leg to stand on.

Image result for chris packham
Chris Packham has called on the ITV show to rethink its treatment of animals. Source: Garry Knight (via Wikimedia Commons)

Any backlash to this reasonable request from Packham is quite frankly absurd. It’s safe to say that ‘ok boomer’ should have been created for those complaining that they’ll never see another soap-star eat a live spider ever again. The absence of that is hard enough, but imagine also having to live without seeing a politician’s parent wear a helmet with some maggots inside either? It’s a really tough life. Apparently, some people just really want to see animals in extreme distress, cause distress us too!

“Demonising animals is no longer chic, ITV”

It’s easy to dismiss the rage against animal abuse as ‘typical vegans’ or ‘classic snowflakes’, but the exploitation of animals is too excessive when it comes to I’m a Celeb. I hardly expect campmates to start eating quinoa and kale as their lucky break from rice and beans (that would hardly be in the spirit of jungle life). But, the so-called ‘bushtucker trials’ can easily been done without distressing live animals by placing them in a confined space with a hysterical celebrity. It doesn’t seem like a good time for anyone involved – I’m sure there are plenty of other places the animals would rather be than on top of Harry Redknapp.

Setting the creepy crawlies and reptiles free from the Aussie studio will surely not kill the joy of what’s a pretty iconic show. In fact it could even give it a new lease of life. Firstly, a greater majority of animal rights activists would actually watch it – I’d like to think that comprises a fair few people. Secondly, it’ll allow the producers to add more creativity to the trials rather than each meeting being full of ‘D-list stars screaming at a cockroach about a 1000th of their size!’ pitches. And finally, the interesting parts of the show will no longer be overshadowed. There is so much more substance to I’m a Celeb than the animals: the tension, the camaraderie amongst those who were once strangers and the terrible, terrible puns.

Essentially, I’m a Celeb needs a cruelty-free makeover. Surely, we all can agree on the fact that distressing and demonising animals is no longer chic, ITV.  If it’s going to involve animals, bring in some cute therapy dogs for the campmates. I’d rather see that any day of the week.

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