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The Cutopia Paradox: anthropomorphism as entertainment

Vale, Michael and McRae, Donna 2016, The Cutopia Paradox: anthropomorphism as entertainment, Ecozon@ : European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment, vol. 7, no. 1, Spring, pp. 128-143.

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Title The Cutopia Paradox: anthropomorphism as entertainment
Formatted title The Cutopia Paradox: anthropomorphism as entertainment
Author(s) Vale, Michael
McRae, DonnaORCID iD for McRae, Donna orcid.org/0000-0003-4772-9758
Journal name Ecozon@ : European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment
Volume number 7
Issue number 1
Season Spring
Start page 128
End page 143
Total pages 16
Publisher European Association for the Study of Literature, Culture and the Environment
Place of publication Alcal√° de Henares, Spain
Publication date 2016
ISSN 2171-9594
Keyword(s) animal
anthropomorphism
chimpanzee
entertainment
empathy
Summary An infant chimpanzee, dressed in riotous checks, bowtie and braces, cradled in human arms while it regards a camera, is perhaps further from us than a tiger lurking in the deepest jungle. Anthropomorphic sentiment negates empathy, blinding us to the real animal behind the “character.” The engaging creature we imagine we’d like to hold and protect is the product, most likely, of violent separation and trauma, stolen in order to bring us this enjoyment. We read the comical face, celebrating what appear to be traces of commonality; but the eyes of the small creature are windows to a realm we cannot comprehend. By following the life of a single chimpanzee, Cobby, the oldest chimp in captivity in the USA, this paper will explore our attraction to cuteness via the lens of chimpanzees in entertainment, regarding it as an intersection of emotion and metaphor that is potentially devastating to animals. We will argue that anthropomorphic sentiment and construction misdirects empathy away from the plight of real animals, and that every animal has the right to be acknowledged as a unique individual, rather than a generic entity. Animals that have been born in captivity and, to a lesser extent, those that have been extracted from the wild in infancy, can be seen as trapped between worlds. There exists, therefore, a hybrid population of animals that lives amongst us, amnesiacs dependent upon human compassion, or conversely, prey to its absence.
Language eng
Field of Research 190204 Film and Television
Socio Economic Objective 950104 The Creative Arts (incl. Graphics and Craft)
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, The Authors
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30083343

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: School of Communication and Creative Arts
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.