Cultural depictions of penguins

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Penguins are popular around the world for their unusually upright, waddling gait, their cuteness, their magnificent swimming ability and (compared with other birds) their lack of fear toward humans.[1] Their striking black and white plumage is often likened to a white tie suit and generates humorous remarks about the bird being "well dressed".[2]

Penguins had a resurgence as figures in pop culture in the mid-2000s thanks to films like March of the Penguins, Madagascar, Happy Feet, and Surf's Up.[3] As an April Fools' Day joke, on April 1, 2008 the BBC released a short film of penguins in flight and migrating to the South American rainforest.

Portrayals[edit]

The penguin is typically depicted as a friendly and comical figure, with considerable dignity despite its physical limitations. Perhaps in reaction to this cute stereotype, fictional penguins are sometimes presented as irritable or even sinister. Examples include the cute yet somewhat surly Sanrio character Badtz Maru and the penguins in the movie Madagascar, intelligent creatures with devious schemes and plans, who are even capable of defeating humans. Penguins are also often portrayed as friendly and smart, for example in the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, which features a warm-water penguin named Pen Pen.

  • The 1960s television cartoon character Tennessee Tuxedo would often escape the confines of his zoo with his partner, Chumley the walrus.
  • In the online role-playing game RuneScape, penguins are portrayed as devious characters with a background reminiscent of the Soviet Union: their capital is Palingrad (suggesting Stalingrad); they have KGP (compare KGB) agents; and they refer to their homeland as the "Motherland". One quest in which they feature is called "Cold War" and the next is called "The Hunt for Red Raktuber", a play on The Hunt for Red October. They have an enormous military complex with training facilities, living areas, interrogation rooms and agility courses. They have plans for domination similar to the penguins in Madagascar.
  • In the animated series Wallace and Gromit, a penguin called Feathers McGraw disguises himself as a chicken with a red rubber glove.
  • A villain in the DC Comics Universe is called The Penguin.

Logos and mascots[edit]

The friendly, slightly comical image of the penguin has often been used by companies and organisations for logos and mascots.

Politics[edit]

  • Supporters and collaborators of Argentine president Néstor Kirchner are known informally as pingüinos, and pingüino (Spanish for "penguin") is the nickname of Kirchner himself, alluding to his birthplace in the cold southern region of Patagonia.[5][6]
  • In 2009, the vice-chair of the The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), a pro-Beijing party in Hong Kong, hosted an episode of an opinion talk show, in the opening of which he mistakenly began by describing the North Pole as a place with few people and many penguins. Although this was edited out in reruns of the episode, it had already caught the attention many supporters of democracy, and they ridiculed the vice-chair and the entire DAB for it, saying that it is common knowledge that penguins are native to only the south, and that if the next generation of party leaders should have such poor general knowledge, it would be questionable for them to lead Hong Kong. This was but one in a long series of incidents that drew ridicule and criticism to the DAB.[citation needed]
  • Penguins became the symbol of the 2013 protests in Turkey, after CNN Türk broadcast a documentary about penguins during the protests.

Food items[edit]

Penguins and polar bears[edit]

Despite what commercials and other popular sources may show, penguins and polar bears cannot meet without human intervention, because the two species are found on opposite hemispheres. Polar bears inhabit the Northern Hemisphere,[7] while all penguin species live in the Southern Hemisphere.[8]

Literature[edit]

Film and television[edit]

Feature films[edit]

  • In the major animated sequence of the film, Mary Poppins, Mary and Bert are served by a group of overeager penguin waiters. Afterwards, Bert has an extended dance sequence with them, soon lowering his trousers to imitate their stubby legs.
  • One of the main villains of the movie Batman Returns is the Penguin. In the film, the Penguin is raised by penguins and forms an army of penguins to attack Gotham City. Their equipment included back-mounted rockets and laser eye sights. The Penguin also appears in The Batman vs Dracula: The Animated Movie and Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman.
  • In Fight Club, the narrator's "power animal" is a talking king penguin.
  • In 50 First Dates, a 2004 romantic comedy, the character portrayed by Adam Sandler has a pet penguin named Willie.
  • The movie Billy Madison featured a penguin that was a nemesis of the title character in hallucinations.[clarification needed]
  • In the movie Gregory's Girl, there is a background running gag involving a child in a penguin costume wandering around the school and being directed from place to place.
  • Happy Feet and Happy Feet Two are two popular movies on penguins.
  • The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper is a computer-animated short produced by DreamWorks Animation. The 12-minute Madagascar spin-off features the adventures of four penguins, sometimes known as the Madagascar penguins, who live in the Central Park Zoo and are trained as spies.[11]
  • Mr. Popper's Penguins is a 2011 American comedy family film directed by Mark Waters, and starring Jim Carrey.[12]

Short films[edit]

Television[edit]

Video games[edit]

Internet Phenomena[edit]

  • Socially awkward penguin is a popular internet meme depicting a waddling Adélie penguin alongside text describing an awkward scenario, reflecting the perceived clumsiness of penguins.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Why are penguins such good box office?". BBC. 2006-11-21. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  2. ^ March of the Penguins (2005) (reel.com) (Archive)
  3. ^ Susan Glaser, "Penguins are pop culture's hottest thing", The Seattle Times (Tuesday, December 19, 2006).
  4. ^ "Who's Diego?". Diegos Tartan Army
  5. ^ "March of the Penguins". Buenos Aires Herald, Friday, September 28, 2007. (Archive).
  6. ^ Longoni, Matías (18 January 2006). "Un combate entre "pingüinos" por la estratégica secretaría de Agricultura". Clarín.com. Retrieved 2011-05-07.  (Spanish)
  7. ^ "Where do polar bears live?" Polar Bears International
  8. ^ "PENGUINS - Habitat and Distribution" seaworld.org
  9. ^ a b Lenburg, Jeff (1 June 2006). Who's Who in Animated Cartoons: An International Guide to Film and Television's Award-Winning and Legendary Animators. Applause Books. pp. 283–284. ISBN 978-1-55783-671-7. 
  10. ^ Deneroff, Harvey (17 May 2004). "Cartoons on the Bay 2004 Report". Animation World Network. Retrieved 25 January 2011. 
  11. ^ The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper
  12. ^ Mr. Popper's Penguins (film)
  13. ^ "Penguins Behind Bars". Collection page. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 25 January 2011. 
  14. ^ . Cheez Burger http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/socially-awkward-penguin. Retrieved 3 March 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]