Anthromorphism and Fast Food TV Culture

OK, so I’m an animal lover. But I’m sick of the over-the-top anthromorphism that kids are being fed. Who’s going to suffer in the long run?

Provoked by a thread on »
The Times: We’re falling into a Mickey Mouse trap if we don’t teach kids the truth about animals »
I have to agree with the The Times article, to some extent. I’m emphatic in my love of animals, and am often guilty of anthropomorphism… I have a long-established obsession with otters, I dote over cats and dogs, but I think I know where to draw the line.
You Are What You eat
Anthropomorphism would appear to be a vital part of childhood – learning the ways of human society through animals stories, and so on. But am I alone in wondering about the conflict between telling kids that animals have feelings and that we shouldn’t kill them… then serving up fish fingers, meatballs or chicken nuggets for tea… generic ‘meat’, mechanically seperated by some anonymous killing machine.
I reckon our urbanised TV-led society has quickly lost any understanding of well, anything outside abstract, commodified constructs. Using the term ‘the environment’ may be the first stage – people referring to ‘it’ as if it’s something other, somewhere else, despite the fact that they’re standing in it. The word ‘nature’ brings similar implications. To by surprise, I’ve heard people in Dublin (not a huge place by any means) referring to the countryside as ‘useless’. ‘Why would we want to go there?’.
On Television
Key things from TV: Shark programmes that give the impression that killer sharks are somehow ‘evil’ or ‘rogue’. They’re not that smart, folks. Neither are ‘killer hurricanes’ or computer or biological viruses. Animals don’t nurse grudges, at least not in the way we do, as far as we know.
A recent Ray Mears programme was about the Heroes of Telemark… while gutting a sheep (or was it a reindeer? Can’t quite recall), a Norwegian commando was bemoaning the distancing of even Norwegian people from really gritty life. He (a young man himself) reckoned that all young people should be taught to gut an animal… and that it would be a factor in fostering a respect for animals and the wild elements of nature. I have to say, I can see his point. I’m sure I’ll get torrents of rabid hatemail from vegetarians over this… which is fine. This rant is not about the moral pros and cons of eating meat… I’m more interested in the distance – geographical, commercial, industrial and biological, and the cognitive dissonance that people have about the source of their food.
Let’s ask Tesco to start stocking live free range chickens, and to begin organising plucking classes.
I should write more about this. Or perhaps not. Comments welcome!
Worth reading:
Slow Food »
Slow Food Ireland »

Chief Bottle Washer at Blather
Writer, photographer, environmental campaigner and "known troublemaker" Dave Walsh is the founder of, described both as "possibly the most arrogant and depraved website to be found either side of the majestic Shannon River", and "the nicest website circulating in Ireland". Half Irishman, half-bicycle. He lives in southern Irish city of Barcelona.


  1. all young people should be taught to gut an animal… and that it would be a factor in fostering a respect for animals and the wild elements of nature
    Why stop with animals, Dave? If gutting animals teaches kids respect for animals and the wild, why not gut a teacher or two to foster the same respect for educators and learning institutions?
    Honestly, it makes as much sense.

  2. I disagree. Teachers can’t usally be bought vacuum-packed at your local supermarket.

  3. That we know of. The only cannibalism occuring at the moment is in the odd serial killer’s basement in America and helpless Pygmies in Africa, and those never make it to processing.
    What I meant is that I learned respect for animals without gutting one. Didn’t you? Or maybe you didn’t, I don’t know.
    I just know it’s possible.

  4. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again:
    No man is a god to his dog: he’s lucky if he is leader of the pack!
    You can not teach an animal to do a trick which isn’t part of its natural aptitudes. So even if they act like humans, they are really just being animals.
    Talking of Nature and human affairs as two different things is a lingering effect of Judeo-Christianity–everything human beings are and do is as natural as the vast clouds of ethanol in the Wild Duck Nebula–the real question is shall we behave like scavengers, predators, vermin, destructive intruders, or like genuine “homo sapiens”, the thinking, rational, and foresightful part of Nature?
    I’ve definitely run across some idiotic out-of-touch-with-Nature people–many of them consider themselves environmentalists. To me a tree is no more sacred than a cabbage, setting aside the greater lifespan and size and the consequently greater impact on the environment if you abuse your kitchen privileges.
    What share of Nature’s resources is rightly ours? Tough question, but I think we have to acknowledge that we are part of Nature and therefore can not take more than is compatible with our continued survival. Once we get to the Moon and Mars, perhaps we can just strip mine the Universe (setting aside a few beauty spots at the very least, I hope), but as long as we are living in Our Mother’s House, we play by Mother’s rules.

  5. I much prefer eating meat over plants, you just can’t taste the FEAR in plants. I would like to point out as an Americanstanian that Germany is much more prolific in producing cannibals (if you exclude the Donner party).

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