Misrepresentation of Animals in Media

 

The video above serves as a sample for how animals are represented in media platforms. Typically, we come across these sort of videos on a daily basis especially when we are logged into our Facebook accounts. It is very common to see these sort of videos trending as soon as its uploaded on Youtube. Relatively, the video above was also obtained from Youtube. What attracted me to it was the title used to represent animals. It says, Animals can be so annoying– Funny animal compilation. In my opinion, the content of the video seems pretty basic. I even saw this segment where a cat would use its paws to summon attention from its owners. But what I do not understand is why normal animal behavior is stated otherwise.

Animals are often misrepresented in media. The example above significantly shows us how humans are mislead by what animals really are. Many of us tend to forget animals are considerably equals to us where they also possess the capability of thinking, emotions and also moral beings. Just like any other media product, there are huge concerns regarding animal objectification as they are always portrayed as human caricatures. (Bekoff 2010) They are often prepared to do silly tricks and wear costumes to entertain media consumers such as us.

From a personal point of view, I believe animals are not bound to be just entertainment. Since they are living matters, they should be treated rightfully and not exploited. A very recent example that could go along with this discussion would be the Blackfish documentary.  The story depicts of an orca, Tilikum, who has been held captive for over 20 years. The documentary reveals how Tilikum had been separated from his family when he was just 2 years old and was eventually placed to perform in Sea World. It is also stated how he had killed three human beings as a result of frustration while being kept there, hence why media had named him the killer whale. What many do not realize is how these whales- the orca- can swim upward of 100 miles per day. (Sea World of Hurt) But at Sea World, Tilikum was stuffed into a concrete tank which barely kept him in motion.

Would you not get frustrated or even angry with someone who takes away your choice of movement? I definitely would. Based on other media resources, I have learnt how Tilikum’s story can be separated into two angles. First off, it was wrong for Tilikum to drown his trainer, and then the other, Tilikum was not entirely at fault, but Sea World was to be blamed for the incidents. If you asked me, I would definitely vote for the second one. Tilikum was not only forced to separate from his family, but just imagine the agony he would have went through staying in those small spaces. When you decide to take away a whale from its habitat, you are creating confusion and this makes it hard for them to adapt to the new habitat. Since humans like us are more gifted and we have the ability to talk to one another, we are able to mention our likes, dislikes, discomfort, satisfaction and alot of other emotions. But has anyone ever thought how would an abused animal like Tilikum communicate its discomforts to us?

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Photo credits to Cary Whitt

References

Bekoff, M 2010, Animals in media: Righting the wrongs , Psychology Today, accessed on 24/4/2016,

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201001/animals-in-media-righting-the-wrongs

Sea World of Hurt n.d., ‘Blackfish’: The Documentary That Exposes SeaWorld , accessed 24/4/2016,

‘Blackfish’: The Documentary That Exposes SeaWorld

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