Would Bugs Bunny Have Diabetes? The Realistic Consequences of Cartoon Diets for Live Nonhuman Animals
By, Amber George, Intergroup Dialogue Project Program Coordinator and Instructor at Cornell University
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a cartoon rabbit? For many, it’s Bugs Bunny eating a carrot. From the moment American children begin watching television, cartoons teach them each species loves a certain food to the point of exclusivity and/or obsession. Sometimes the stereotypes are true to real life, like cats loving fish. But often they are so false – cartoon mice love cheese but real mice are repelled by it – it’s hard to understand how they even began. Americans are so indoctrinated with these false assumptions that it’s difficult for most to imagine their untruth, let alone harm. In this presentation, I argue the attitudes humans have toward the dietary needs of living animals have become inseparable from knowledge acquired through cartoons. I suggest these cartoon representations can be damaging to live animals’ health and safety. So many species have fallen prey to being fed one specific food “as they do in the cartoons,” resulting in injury, illness, and death. This dominant cartoon narrative of dietary obsession and/or exclusivity serves to maintain simplistic representations that fail to consider the complex dietary needs of live animals. It is imperative that consumers be mindful of the pedagogical impact of media tropes and seek every opportunity to counter dominant narratives.
Amber E. George is the Program Coordinator for the Intergroup Dialogue Project at Cornell University. She serves as the point of contact for program development and management. Prior to this role, she taught philosophy, in particular ethics and social philosophy, at numerous colleges and universities. She serves as a board member of ICAS, an academic research organization dedicated to advancing intersectional social justice initiatives. She is the Associate Editor of Social Advocacy and Systems Change Journal, and is on the review board of Green Theory and Praxis Journal and Transformative Justice Book Series. Her life and work focuses on challenging oppression as it materializes in everyday life with the hopes of achieving belonging for all beings.