Animals, or rather, representations of animals are omnipresent in the Western world. Logos, games, products and a wealth of images that surround us fill our eyes and our lives. Why is all this happening? And above all, why are we so fascinated? Although there are many books that try to explain it (from Jon Mooallem in his book “Wild Ones” to John Berger’s essay “Why do we look at animals?” to the new series Animalia by Adelphi), there is no unambiguous and satisfactory answer, as this article of Rivista Studio well explains. Some argue that it is the fear of new artificial intelligences (such as anthropomorphic ones designed by Boston Dynamics) that makes us take refuge in love for animals, for others it is a logical rapprochement with nature now that there is an awareness of scarce resources.
Analyzing the sources monitored by Nextatlas we notice that the animals on the net are more represented by cute animals, pets and more than anything else puppies, but only in small part by wild animals. The trend identified in 2015, “Viral Cuties” shows that the direct connection through the web is so immediate that it favours regressive and “naive” connectivity and does not involve higher cognitive processes, with the ultimate result of increasing and facilitating virality.
If in the real world the most charismatic animals, those most present in the popular imagination, are tigers, lions and African elephants (study published in April 2018 by PLOS Biology ) and some other animals at risk of extinction, in conversations kittens, dogs and puppies of other “adorable” animals are represented.
The theme of extinction, as we have already seen here, seems instead to have become the new symbolic reference of luxury, in its extreme meaning of exclusivity and inaccessibility linked to the theme of extreme and wild nature as inspiration.
In conclusion, however, when animals were also chosen as a symbol of climate change, in the post-war period for example, polar bears, their charisma soon made us forget why they were mentioned.