File puptcrit/puptcrit.0904, message 206

Date: Tue, 14 Apr 2009 22:10:21 EDT
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Talking Animals

I find it disconcerting that you naturally assume the animal has to suffer  
in any story in which it appears. All animal stories are not Peter Rabbit 
or The  Goose Girl. Sometimes they are Brer Rabbit stories, in which 
generally only  the animal of evil intent suffers, and the most he suffers is 
humiliation. I  mean, yes, Pooh does suffer certain mild apprehensions from time 
to time.  But often enough, the talking animal is a helpful advisor ("Puss in 
 Boots") or transformed human ("Laidly Worm"). If you want suffering, you  
should focus on the princesses in stories. They tend to get a really bum 
rap.  And the narrator establishes a bland sympathy based on the fact that they 
 are good and beautiful. Not to mention stepchildren. Boy, are they stuck 
in  the mud. I just think it is easy for children to identify with animals 
because  the little cuddly ones appeal to their desire to be loved, and the 
big strong  ones appeal to their need to feel empowered. So take your choice-- 
Pooh Bear or  a dinosaur. 
In a message dated 4/14/2009 8:17:08 P.M. Central Daylight Time, writes:

Human  beings are more vulnerable to an appeal to innocence when watching
animal  characters rather than representations of their own species. Humans
being a  particularly competitive and vicious species of ape, they will tend
to  watch the suffering of another human being and either feel a)  vaguely
superior for not suffering themselves or b) quiet satisfaction that  there 
one less competitor. For an animal we may feel sympathy, at least  until we
start outsourcing the jobs to chimps and puppies. How cute can a  kitten be
when that very cuteness might win it that theatrical grant you've  been
chasing after?misanthropically  yrs.

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