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Social attitudes towards animals develop from childhood and the everyday discourse surrounding
them. In the UK at least, animals are categorised into subject/object, edible/inedible, even
visible/invisible (Stewart & Cole 2009) through the instillation of social norms from those we trust around us. Part of these socialisation processes includes the media, not least through the cultural consumption of children’s television (TV). TV representations are investigated to highlight the inconsistencies taught to our children through popular animal characters.
There is little objection to any claim that youngsters love animals: toy collections and city farm
visits of many children evidence this. However, most of these children also eat animals and will
continue to into adulthood – an example of the ‘Meat Paradox’ (Loughnan, Bastian & Puvia 2012).
Extending this, the more species-specific ‘Peppa Pig Paradox’ (Korimboccus 2020) highlights the
species adorning the side of lunchboxes as well as filling the sandwiches inside. Ham-eating
Peppa Pig fans (and fish-eating aquaria visitors) demonstrate disconnect before children are even
cognitively able to question it. They believe certain animals are ‘for’ certain purposes – usually
human gain of some sort, and frequently through food choices.
Media has a role in the reinforcement of these everyday contradictions through representation of
various animal species. Content analysis of children’s mainstream UK TV series evidences these
speciesist stereotypes, from ‘pests’ such as Peter Rabbit to ‘pets’ in Ferne & Rorie’s Vet Tales.
Though other work exists on wider media depictions of animals on TV (e.g. Mills 2017), and even
on children’s TV during the analog era (Paul 1996), these studies are the first to focus solely on
pre-school and primary-age children’s digital terrestrial TV in the 21 st century. These culturally-
made relationships with animals were investigated in 314 children’s shows with lead animal
characters across five separate days of UK TV programming in Summer 2020. Since
representations undoubtedly influence attitudes, recognising the role of such culture transmission
is vital to challenge assumptions about animals and help promote a paradigm shift towards the
consistency of veganism.
Lynda M Korimboccus
(Independent Scholar, Sociology, Scotland, UK)