The Animated Bestiary: Animals, Cartoons, and Culture
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The Animated Bestiary critically evaluates the depiction of animals in cartoons and animation more generally. Paul Wells argues that artists use animals to engage with issues that would be more difficult to address directly because of political, religious, or social taboos. Consequently, and principally through anthropomorphism, animation uses animals to play out a performance of gender, sex and sexuality, racial and national traits, and shifting identity, often challenging how we think about ourselves.
Wells draws on a wide range of examples, from the original King Kongto Nick Park's Chicken Run to Disney cartoonsùsuch as Tarzan, The Jungle Book, and Brother Bearùto reflect on people by looking at the ways in which they respond to animals in cartoons and films.
whereas metaphoric representations of otherness will typically take therianthropic form” (Baker 2001, 108). Though these aspects of representation are quite common, they are not entirely proven in the case of animated ﬁlm. The theriomorphic image in animation can wholly preserve the nature of the beast—the pure animal—while still invoking human characteristics, and the therianthropic image can be a conventional representation in animation, largely through the ways the design and execution of a
the Beast’s connections to current perceptions of natural good—for the American Buﬀalo, like the 74 T H E A N I M AT E D B E S T I A RY grizzly, represents the lost innocence of the plains before man came to plunder. So the celluloid Beast’s beastliness thrusts in two contradictory directions; though he is condemned for his “animal” rages, he also epitomizes the primordial virtues of the wild. (Warner 199, 315) Recalling the mythic sources that animators frequently draw upon, Warner locates
description with loving detail of the heating system and absolute cold impenetrability of the polar bear, the bear in question looks sadly at the audience: ‘I don’t care what you say, I’m cold’” (Jones 1990, 99). Avery recognized that there was little understanding of other cultures in these ﬁlms, and merely a set of conventions—“And as the sun 104 T H E A N I M AT E D B E S T I A RY sinks slowly in the west . . .”—that exposed the limited knowledge and experience of the West, but more
prescribed disciplines, nevertheless shares the arts community’s investment in A N I M A L P O L I T I C S , A N I M AT E D M E M O RY 17 9 the animal symbolic. Further, art and science share the social world’s socioeconomic management of the animal, often using the critical anthropomorphism I have deﬁned earlier. This is sometimes reﬂected in the degrees of intelligence seemingly characterizing animal behavior. As animal scientist George Page claims, “Almost all of us ‘draw the line’
the increasingly oppressive conditions of National Socialism and the conduct of war. William Moritz has written extensively about the ways in which Goebbels had insisted upon more indigenous, quality animation production to challenge the already established claims of the American animation industry as leaders in the ﬁeld. He details how Fischerkoesen, an established ﬁlmmaker with strong credentials in the advertising arena, was essentially commandeered to move from Leipzig, where his studio was