The never ending appeal of animals on the big and small screens

Animals – they’re everywhere in the media – on television, on billboards, on the radio, in the movies. We’re fascinated with them. They’re animated, they joke, they sell us stuff, they make us laugh. Americans have always been intrigued by animals, but they seem to be more popular in the media than ever. Movies about animals have always won our hearts, from “Charlotte’s Web” to “Stuart Little.” Then the talking guinea pigs in “G-Force,” chatting rats in “Ratatouille” and in “The Tales of Despereaux,” and bantering Safari animals in “Madagascar” kept us entertained. On TV, first it was farm animals like the Cadbury bunny and the Aflac duck. More recently, reptiles gained in popularity with the Budweiser frogs and chameleons and the Geico gecko. Then all different kinds of birds appeared in film and in commercials – the black and white crows on the power line commenting on the streak-free windows cleaned with Windex, the famous “Waaaassssuuuupp?” Budweiser cockatoo, the parrots perched on animal expert Jack Hanna in the Nationwide Insurance commercial, and now the blue macaws in “Rio.” Today, even rodents are appealing as they hip-hop to the beat in the Kia Soul auto commercial. Many of us watch the Super Bowl as much to see the animated animal commercials as to see the game.

What is it about animals in the media that we love so much? Why are we constantly drawn to watching them? The fact is animals make us happy. They are innocent and silly. They are sincere and sweet. They make us forget our troubles and our worries, even for a few minutes. They make us feel young again, and they make us smile. So we are willing to sit through even the slowest ballgames to watch them for even a few seconds on TV and to shell out often overpriced sums to have them entertain us on the big screen. Some of us own real pets; others don’t. But even among pet-less spectators, animals in the media are a hit. So as long as there are movie-goers and TV-watchers, animals will continue to be stars of the show, and we will continue to watch them and talk about them, over and over. Who is your favorite animal actor?

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