Noot Noot

It began as most things did, with a conversation with a friend where I communicated what my friend and I were doing with animal .gifs, specifically of penguins. Like many people, I have long had a fondness for penguins, those loyal, adorably awkward flightless birds who inhabit the austral regions of the globe. When I visited Chile in 2000, I managed to go on a trip near Penguin Island (which happened to also be close from where former Chilean leader Pinochet was then living peacefully in retirement), and it was enjoyable to see so many of these birds so far north.

At any rate, there are a good deal of similarities between penguins and myself, not limited to our fondness for coastal regions and even a certain similarity when it comes to dogged determination in the face of adverse circumstances, a fondness for a blend of solitude and community, isolation and society, and even a certain something in the way that we walk. This makes such animals perfect for sharing entertaining pictures and memes, and I noticed that as I was looking for entertaining penguin .gifs to share that a great many of them looked like odd claymation pictures, which appeared to come from the same sort of media that I was not familiar with.

After a while, having found the same penguin blowing bubbles in his drink, eating dinner, going to bed, and numerous other activities, I was led to look up what this odd penguin media was that I was seeing so much of but was so unfamiliar with. As is often the case, there was a lot more to this penguin than met the eye, including an older and newer series with different voice actors, a lore that includes a language called “Penguish,” which is all used on shortform media of around five minute episodes or so to describe a mischievous young penguin and his friends and family and neighbors engaged in various activities. Not only was there a large body of work of content, but apparently also a massive amount of debate and discourse over why this particular penguin was so popular everywhere but the United States, as well as whether the older or newer material was better, and how superior Pingu is to many other children’s entertainment.

None of this discourse was at all what I expected when I looked up pictures of penguins to share with a friend. Sometimes one simply wants to find endearing and cute pictures of an endearingly awkward animal with whom one shares a striking amount of similarities. Yet in this world, a great many people find themselves deeply tied to the art that is created, and the reception of that art is often haphazard in nature. Why is it that I appreciate and am aware of something that so many other Americans are not? Surely there are plenty of people who like penguins enough to seek out entertainment about them, right? Are we so incurious as to not want to know where something comes from when it fills up our image databases? I am not, at any rate.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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