Animal sapiens : the consequences of anthropomorphism in popular media : the consequences of anthropomorphism in popular media

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


The creators of popular media have long used anthropomorphism of nonhuman animals to promote human morals and values and learn more about ourselves by looking at animals. Focusing on the portrayal of penguins in popular media, I will demonstrate the consequences: a society that lesser understands the scientific accuracy of animals and that places humans at the center of everything, anthropocentrism. Although seeing 'human' emotions or characteristics in animals plays an important role in promoting empathy for them, I will argue that it also muddies the water when determining what is best for a species in terms of conservation and management. The use of blatant anthropomorphism often pits the best interest of an individual versus the best interest of a species - a clear contradiction to the basic principles of evolution. My thesis film, 'Animal sapiens', intends to expose the pitfall of popular media's use of anthropomorphism in developing the viewers' attachment to the individual thus jeopardizing conservation of a species. I propose a moderate approach to anthropomorphism, which avoids making blanket statements and instead describes the similarities between humans and nonhumans while providing room to describe the difference simultaneously. As our developing, cultural world continues to distance itself from the natural world - with the advance of technology, population, and environmental degradation - it is important to better understand and reexamine the role of anthropomorphism in our society.


Animal sapiens is a film that is part of the student's thesis project.



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