Happy FeetAn animated cute-penguin-flick about an Emperor Penguin who just doesn’t fit in – he likes to dance, but cannot sing a note, while Emperor Penguins are supposed to keep still and sing their (most un-penguiny) heartsongs – it may well be that this one was inspired by the March of the Penguins. It should have been just a sweet little break from the nitty-gritty, right?

Well, apart from the whole “women penguins flit off to fish while man penguins take on the childraising responsibility” issue, and apart from the silly sterotypes of Mexican-accented little silly penguins and Auusie elephant seals, and apart from the way the male and female penguins were differentiated by swollen female chests with strategically positioned yellow markings, and apart from the rampantly patriarchal anthropomorphised penguin culture on display… Apart from all that, was it a sweet little film with cutie-pie dancing penguin antics?

Well, there was always the overall message of the film to complain about. (Warning, spoiler!) The protagonist, Mumble, is eventually cast out of the clan for a freak who is blamed for bringing a fish shortage onto his fellow-penguins. He leaves, vowing to return when he has found out what is really causing the fish crisis and discovers that the culprit is – Man. Mumble is captured and ends up in a zoo where he finds that he can get Man’s attention by his infernal dancing. Thus he brings men back to the penguin-grounds, persuades all the penguins to dance too, and thereby capitavates the people with the result that they decide to do something about the overfishing.

Films that speak out against overfishing are, of course, welcome. But do they have to come with the subtext that if penguins want to draw attention to their plight they should jolly well start acting cute? That if they don’t act cute, then they’ve nobody to blame (certainly not Men) for their boring, miserable, uncute plight? It stinks.

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