Picturing the Beast: Animals, Identity, and Representation

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University of Illinois Press, 2001 - Social Science - 242 pages
"From Mickey Mouse to the teddy bear, from the Republican elephant to the use of "jackass" as an all-purpose insult, images of animals play a central role in politics, entertainment, and social interactions. In this penetrating look at how Western culture pictures the beast, Steve Baker examines how such images--sometimes affectionate, sometimes derogatory, always distorting--affect how real animals are perceived and treated. Baker provides an animated discussion of how animals enter into the iconography of power through wartime depictions of the enemy, political cartoons, and sports symbolism. He examines a phenomenon he calls the "disnification" of animals, meaning a reduction of the animal to the trivial and stupid, and shows how books featuring talking animals underscore human superiority. He also discusses how his findings might inform the strategies of animal rights advocates seeking to call public attention to animal suffering and abuse. Until animals are extricated from the baggage of imposed images, Baker maintains, neither they nor their predicaments can be clearly seen. For this edition, Baker provides a new introduction, specifically addressing an American audience, that touches on such topics as the Cow Parade, animal imagery in the presidential race, and animatronic animals in recent films."--Publisher's website.

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