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Dancing Penguins And A Pretentious Raccoon: Animated Animals And 21st Century Environmentalism

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the relationships between animal dramas, agency, and environmentalism in two popular animated films: Happy Feet and Over the Hedge, both released in 2006. These films demonstrate the kind of relationship humans should have with other animals and make wildlife seem so familiar. How can a real raccoon stand up against Bruce Willis' portrayal of RJ? How can a real penguin compare to the tap dancing Mumble? Animation allows these filmmakers to dodge charges of humanizing or misrepresenting the lives of their nonhuman subjects because those subjects are purely fictional characters. The chapter finally shows that these movies utilize familiar tropes of animal figures that have become recognizable because of popular characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Lassie, but they reify in a more insidious way those traditional concepts about animals while making us think they are more sophisticated.

Keywords: animal dramas; animated films; Donald Duck; environmentalism; Happy Feet; Lassie; Mickey Mouse; Over the Hedge; penguin; raccoon



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