Human-Animal Affiliation in Modern Popular Film
During the past two decades, domestic animals have rapidly become socialized into the human sphere, creating a sense of species egalitarianism, and a growing disdain for traditional conceptions of “human” and “animal.” As domestic animals shift along this continuum toward humanization (by which I mean a tendency for them to be regarded, however inconsistently, in the same way that we regard humans), wild animals have also been repositioned, moving in many respects into the position previously occupied by domestic animals during the modernist era. I will examine this process at work in various films from the modernist and postmodern eras, including Lassie Come Home, K-911 (domestic animals), King Kong, The Planet of the Apes, Gorillas in the Mist, and Instinct (wild animals). I will also argue that in popular media-rep- resentations of human-domestic animal relations, adults have largely usurped the actantual role of children, and that children, rather than pairing off with the family pet, are increasingly finding themselves with wild animal pals. In effect, killer whales have slipped into the space on the anthropomorphic continuum vacated by Rin Tin Tin, who has moved up into the adult sphere. Essentially there are two parallel processes at work: the recruitment of domestic animals into adult media products, and the induction of wild animals to replace them in children’s films.
KeywordsDomestic Animal Wild Animal Killer Whale Paradigm State Popular Text
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