Zoology

Penguins in Pop Culture



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Could it be their waddling gait and the way they stand up on two feet like humans, or perhaps their rather smart tuxedo-like appearance that endears them to so many? Whatever the reasons for their fascinating appeal, penguins are cute-inducing experts which appear to have overtaken pop culture, especially in recent times. This article looks at the popular presence of penguins in pop culture.

It mainly started with Walt Disney’s classical movie of Mary Poppins (1964). Which was one of the first ever movies to have included penguins. In this classic, Mary and chimney sweeper Bert dance around with penguin waiters, and this scene happens to be one of those most featured and highlighted in this long-loved movie.

In the 1995 movie of “Billy Madison”, Billy has delusions of a giant penguin of all animals. Then, a number of movies and documentaries began in the mid-2000s, causing a wave of penguin-craze.

Notably, National Geographic’s “March of the Penguins” documentary about the migration of the Emperor Penguin won an Oscar Academy Award as “Best Documentary “in 2005.

Following this, came the celebrated animation movie “Madagascar” (2005) which contained a crafty foursome of penguins who acted as spies, and were humorously named Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private. After the movie, hoards of people requested that something be done containing the crafty group of four, as many people enjoyed the scenes with them in.

After viewing the popular appraisal of the four penguins in Madagascar, the next year saw the release of a film dedicated to the penguin, but nothing like those crafty ones, but ones based upon the cute and fuzzy stereotypical image of penguins. Happy Feet (2006) was a cartoon animation musical which aroused sympathy from viewers about a penguin who couldn’t sing well, but he sure could dance.

If that wasn’t enough of penguin-featured movies, “Surf’s Up” is released the following year, in 2007. This movie animation depicts how penguins invented and then perfected the art of surfing the waves. Although such is far from reality, as it was Frankie Avalon who invented surfing, but could such depictions pave the way for a penguin take over? Who knows…?

Nope, penguins have not left the television screen, the succeeding year the distinguished BBC decide to air a short film about penguins migrating to the very non-penguin-friendly habitat of the south American rain-forest, as part of an April Fool’s Day joke in 2008.

There seemed to be a period of rest on the TV screen from penguins for a while, until very recently. In June 2011, came the release of “Mr Poppers Penguins”. This feature movie starring Jim Carey is set to be a very funny one as it’s based on the already written children’s book with the same title, written by Richard and Florence Atwater. The book was also awarded an honorary award in the late 1930s – when it was released, and has been a favourite book among the young and old ever since. Time will tell if the recent movie depiction will gain any awards, although with penguins in… it probably will!

There’s more where penguins and books are concerned, as “Penguin Books” have been a world renowned publishing company for a very long time, publishing paperback novels at affordable prices. Their logo is none other than a penguin.

More books abound with a relatively recent scientific book by the New Scientist written in a sometimes comical and informative style titled “Why don’t penguins feet freeze? This book represents the more recent in a series of such books with some often bizarre and curious questions about life and animals and the reasons for things. The book also contains the answers written by various professionals from around the world.

Then there’s a favourite subject of many: food. If anyone in the UK is feeling peckish, they’re advised to P-p-p-pick up a penguin! British biscuit and cakes company Mc Vities came up with a nice recipe for a chocolate covered chocolate biscuit filled with chocolate cream, yet they named it “Penguin” for some unknown reason, as there are no penguin derivatives in these bars. The adverts for the biscuit from the 70s, 80s and 90s all appropriately contained featured penguins. These bars are still available and loved until today, and the author can testify to that.

They had to be added to technology didn’t they? Lux is the penguin mascot symbol for the alternative to Windows operating system, Linux.

From movies, documentaries and books to food, adverts and computer operating systems, penguins have been the animal of choice in much of pop culture. And despite nearing penguin-overload, chances are they’ll continue to shine in the limelight of pop culture, and many will love and welcome their continued presence.

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More about this author: Matilda Willows

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