Returning the Look

Emotion, Encounter, and Inter-Subjectivity in Wildlife Films

In: Society & Animals
Gioia Barnbrook Department of Anthropology, School of Social Sciences Aberdeen Aberdeenshire Scotland

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It has been argued that a contemporary penchant for wildlife images serves to cloak the various destructive impacts human actions have on nonhuman animals, as well as to distract us from our ever-decreasing direct encounters with them. However, this form of media has also demonstrated its effectiveness as a method for communicating conservation messages to the wider public. This paper seeks to examine this tension through an analysis of a famous reunion clip from the documentary Christian the Lion (1971), exploring how audiences have reacted to this clip through a selection of YouTube comments and asking what these comments can tell us about contemporary ideas relating to human/animal inter-subjectivity.

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