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Badmovies.org Forum  |  Other Topics  |  Television  |  Anthropomorphic Oddities « previous next »
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Author Topic: Anthropomorphic Oddities  (Read 3609 times)
AndyC
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« on: March 23, 2010, 07:06:39 PM »

Wasn't sure whether this should go under TV or movies, since it deals with both, so I flipped a coin. TeddyR

One of the staples of cartoondom is the anthropomorphic animal. Rabbits, mice, cats, pigs, dogs, all walking and talking like people.

Sometimes, it follows an internal logic. But other times, it doesn't make sense, even within its own fictional world.

Garfield, at least for the first decade or so, presented it pretty well. Animals played animals, and their talking was more of an internal thing, not heard by people.

Bugs Bunny works. He interacts with people, he acts like a person, but he usually still fills the role of animal. Lives in the ground, gets chased by hunters and predators, etc. Same with Foghorn Leghorn, Sylvester and Tweety, Taz, the polite gophers and Pepe LePew. And yet, Porky Pig has never, to my recollection, ever appeared as a farm animal. He's been a farmer. He's kept other talking animals as pets. Still, he's human in the stories, albeit with no pants (or genitalia).

On the Disney side, we have a world where animals stand in for people. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck (also without pants), Goofy the dog. Actually, most Disney characters of unnamed species appear doglike. But there are also regular animals. Goofy is an anthropomorphic dog (pretty sure), sharing the screen with Pluto, a regular dog. That happens a lot. Arthur the aardvark, who inhabits a world of two-legged animals, including dogs, has a very doglike pet dog. It's even scaled down to be smaller than the talking animals.

Then you have Little Bear. Those of you with kids might have seen this. It has animals behaving like people and like animals at the same time, some wearing clothes and some not, living in houses or not. Just to make it even stranger, there are a couple of actual people thrown into the mix. Oddly enough, in a world where chickens and ducks are characters, they still have chicken soup.

The alternative to the double standard is a world where animals fill purely human roles. Franklin, for example, has the animals retaining some of their animal traits, but mostly living like humans. A cartoon like Toot and Puddle has animals behaving almost purely like humans, with different species populating the countries to which they are indigenous. This is very consistent, but it has one problem. There are no "animals." The animals are the people, and there's nothing to replace them. Actually, it looks like the animals wiped out their human masters and took over.

Anyway, those are my observations. Feel free to add your own.
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« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2010, 09:34:42 PM »

Interesting topic Andy, I've noticed a lot of this myself.

Quote
Then you have Little Bear. Those of you with kids might have seen this. It has animals behaving like people and like animals at the same time, some wearing clothes and some not, living in houses or not. Just to make it even stranger, there are a couple of actual people thrown into the mix. Oddly enough, in a world where chickens and ducks are characters, they still have chicken soup.
Little Bear is an odd world to me.  One aspect that even my four year old notices is Little Bear wears NO clothing.  Yet his father, mother and uncle does.  Cats play with chickens/ducks which is odd to me as well. 

Sesame Street comes to mind.  Barkley is a normal dog yet we have characters like Big Bird walking around acting very much human. 
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« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2010, 05:16:24 AM »

Ever since I was a kid, I've always been fascinated by human - puppet interaction and especially those on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. Another example is The Muppet Christmas Carol where humans and muppets are thrown together in a story by Charles Dickens ~ Sir Michael Caine isn't out of place as Scrooge and the Muppets aren't out of place in the story.  Smile
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« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2010, 11:11:27 AM »

Lets not forget about Go Diego Go and Dora.  Thats an odd study in itself. 

Diego is an adventurer who rescues animals.  All the animals he rescues speak either Spanish or English and still keep the attributes of their real life counterparts.  Yet their predators zoom in and out acting only like predators.

Dora is just silly, Boots the monkey kind of just hangs out with her and Swiper is a bandit fox.
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« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2010, 11:22:36 AM »

An oldie that bugged me when I was a child: Quick Draw McGraw and his faithful sidekick Baba Looie.  A horse and a burro, walking on two legs, in hats and gunbelts who were often enough seen driving stagecoaches drawn by horses.  And the villains (all human as far as I can recall - please correct me if I am off on this) rode horses.  I kept expecting Quick Draw to enlist the help of the badguy mounts (being 'their kind' and all) and catch the bad'uns that way. Really, really weird.
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« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2010, 12:13:26 PM »

I don't like the show overall, but I do like the character of Brian on Family Guy.  He acts like a human 90% of the time (actually wiser than a human), but then there is that 10% where they make jokes about him eating garbage or scooting across the carpet... just when you've forgotten he's a dog.  A well done anthropomorphic character that plays with audience expectations, IMO.
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2010, 06:49:00 PM »

An oldie that bugged me when I was a child: Quick Draw McGraw and his faithful sidekick Baba Looie.  A horse and a burro, walking on two legs, in hats and gunbelts who were often enough seen driving stagecoaches drawn by horses.  And the villains (all human as far as I can recall - please correct me if I am off on this) rode horses.  I kept expecting Quick Draw to enlist the help of the badguy mounts (being 'their kind' and all) and catch the bad'uns that way. Really, really weird.

I've noticed the same thing in other cartoons. The wild west is a common theme, and there just aren't many ways to get around the problem of horses. They pretty much have to be horses.

One cartoon that did it differently was Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends. They had a western-style ant show up on a wagon pulled by aphids who later joined in the dialogue. Mind you, that show does some weird stuff with its bugs. Ants and aphids are partners, and spiders appear to be the nicest, most trustworthy of bugs. Frogs are also friendly to bugs, and they talk. On the other hand, snakes and birds are just generic predators, acting like their real-world counterparts, which goes back to what Darksider said about Diego.

One that really plays fast and loose with the power of speech is Wonderpets. Animals in need of rescue often just make animal noises. Sometimes they talk from the beginning, other times they start after they're rescued, and many times, only their parents say anything. It seems to be entirely dictated by whatever the story requires.
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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2010, 08:04:14 PM »

Quote
One that really plays fast and loose with the power of speech is Wonderpets. Animals in need of rescue often just make animal noises. Sometimes they talk from the beginning, other times they start after they're rescued, and many times, only their parents say anything. It seems to be entirely dictated by whatever the story requires.
I recall the episode where they rescue the cat on the plank of wood in Venice and the one with the dog that had to go "pee pee".  Neither talked to be honest.  Maybe on an unrelated note...do baby ducks and turtles eat celery?  I can believe Lenny though because he is a guinea pig. 


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« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2010, 08:33:32 PM »

Rocko's Modern life, basically it was 99-100% human like behaviour and still keeps the animal like behaviour as well.
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« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2010, 08:34:45 PM »

Great topic!

A Disney film that always struck me as odd was their version of ROBIN HOOD, with an entire cast of anthropomorphic critters, many of them derived from their earlier films.

Offhand, I think it's the only Disney animated feature that features a cast like that. A bit 'o online research reveals Disney originally planned this as a version of Reynard the Fox (hence the Foxy Robin), but the story was considered too obscure.
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« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2010, 10:05:56 PM »

One that I thought Disney did particularly well was 101 Dalmations (the animated one, of course). The animals were completely normal animals, and their anthropomorphic behaviour was not something that could be perceived by the human characters. Only the other animals and the audience could hear them speaking or understand the meaning of the seemingly ordinary things they did. And when someone suspected their human-like intelligence (naturally it was the person least likely to be taken seriously who noticed), it was quickly dismissed. It's easy to suspend disbelief with a story like that, because it might well be real world. Really, if you ignore their anthropomorphic traits, the dogs in that movie are more realistic than some of the people.
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« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2010, 02:57:26 AM »

This is something I've thought about too.  On a related note, one of my pet peeves are children's books that make predator animals into evil villains.  It's always come across as shamefully hypocritical considering what animal created all these characters. 

Probably the weirdest to me is a few Donald Duck comics I've seen where he's HUNTING DUCK.  With a lure and everything.  I mean, really?

I think I like the animals like Bugs Bunny, where they're made intelligent and have some human behavior, but retain personality aspects of their animal origins.  That seems to work best.
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« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2010, 11:38:26 AM »

Looney Tunes kind of bounces in and out.  For example, the coyote chases the roadrunner as a food source but uses ACME products to accomplish his mission.  The roadrunner kind of just stays in animal character. The Kangaroo comes to mind who simply bounces around and beats people up. 
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« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2010, 11:57:15 AM »

I was watching Max and Ruby with my daughter the other day, and noticed something I'd completely missed prior to that. Ruby has human dolls.

There are no humans in Max and Ruby. Rabbits are the humans. So what's the deal with Curly Shirley and Tooth Fairy?

I mean, maybe this is a planet where rabbits evolved from men, but there's no evidence that humans even exist in the world of Max and Ruby. So what's with the dolls?
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« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2010, 01:00:51 PM »

I'm surprised nobody has brought up Olivia, since we're talking about alot of Nick Jr. shows here. It's a whole world of pigs, but they're doing all the things that humans do, but everyone's pigs. I thought it was funny because the other day there was a police officer. I thought, "how fitting." Anyway, it's a family of pigs, but they have a pet dog.

On the movie side, how about Beauty and the Beast? There you have anthropomorphic objects instead of animals. Talking clocks, candlesticks, teapots, brooms. Anthropomorphism doesn't just apply to animals, right?
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