Pete Porter

Abstract

This review explores the central themes and species ideology of Bolt, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, and Beverly Hills Chihuahua. All suggest incremental changes in human attitudes toward animals but all strongly confirm the mainstream view of animals as domestic companions and as models of human society. Whatever the limitations of their imagining of nonhuman existence, however, these films promise to raise awareness of some challenges faced by nonhuman animals in a human world.

Pete Porter

Abstract

The live-action comedies Hotel for Dogs and Marley and Me illustrate the prominent American stereotypes of canines as surrogate children and models of human behavior. Both adopt a human perspective on nonhuman animals, particularly dogs. An ethic of caring goes awry, to become pampering and permissiveness, and precludes empathetic training that would help dogs to prosper as canines in a human world.

Pete Porter

Abstract

Human engagement with nonhuman animals in motion pictures is a complex process that anthropomorphism and identification misconstrue. A superior model comes from cognitive theories of how spectators engage characters, particularly Smith (1995), who suggests modifications to account for the nuances of spectator engagement with nonhuman animal characters. The central components of this amended model include the person schema, the three types of cues that films use to activate the person schema, and what Smith calls the "Structure of Sympathy." Such a model enables us to understand better the role that moving image representations of nonhuman animals play in human-animal relationships.

Pete Porter