Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cross Cultural Animal Analysis

Throughout this class I have noticed that we have been studying stories about animals that span across cultures, and yet we are able to interpret the intended meaning by using those animals with ease. Whether the piece is from France, China, England, or Mesopotamia, we are somehow able to analyze and comprehend the meaning of the animals in similar ways. This is seen today as well with our most modern form of story telling, television and comics. Here's an example:

Cat Woman, who is a DC Comics villain/anti-heroine that is apart of the Batman franchise, illustrates a Western portrayal of a feline woman. She is seen as stealthy (she's known to be a burglar), conniving, and highly sexual (seen in her outfit and overall appearance as well as her sexual encounters with Batman in some of the comics), all things that we associate with cats. Of course we would be able to understand this, being Westerners ourselves, but this is seen in other countries portrayal of cats as well.

Black Hanekawa is an alter-ego of a character in the Japanese light novel turned anime Bakemonogatari. In this anime, Hanekawa represents the suppressed anxieties and evils within the character Hanekawa Tsubasa (again illustrating the conniving side of cats). She is also seen as being stealthy when she fights other characters and is overtly sexualized (her outfits primarily consist of just undergarments). We understand the portrayal of her as a cat and the association of these characteristics with it, yet it is from a vastly different culture than our own.

So what does this all mean? Could it be that we have a uniform symbolism associated with animals to unite us as humans, despite our differences? Does making animals inferior and reducing them to motifs that we can all understand a way to bring together the plethora of different cultures?

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