Whenever one of the kiddos is sick, we end up watching more television then is humanly healthy. It’s hard not to, I mean, I’m a voracious lover of books and so are the kids, but when you’re under the weather flipping on the tube is just the easiest thing to do. So, we’re watching and we’re watching and I’m thinking and I’m thinking (I never veg, I’m always thinking…), and it dawned on me the other day. There are an awful lot of pigs in the world of kids TV.
There’s Babe, which I will confess wound up being much cuter then even I expected.
There’s Piglet. Who doesn’t love the Hundred Acre Woods and the house at Pooh’s corner, and the related cast of characters, including the shy, humble pig(let)?
Of course, there’s the classic, all-time favorite pig – Wilbur and his BFF Charlotte (who’s much cuter then any spider I’ve ever met).
And then, there’s Olivia, the latest favorite piggie in our household. If you’re not in the KNOW, Olivia is a book character created by Ian Falconer (an illustrator who’s done many a New Yorker cover design). The book was an instant success when the first one was published nearly 10 years ago. That success led to the usual marketing schtick of a variety of not-so-necessary-but-I-must-have products for kiddies, which in turn led to usual 15 minutes of fame that will befall any semi-celebrity. An animated featured for Ms. Olivia, the pig. I’m not knocking it. Don’t tell my kids, but I love Olivia. It’s just a cute little show. Really.
But it all leads back to my original question. What’s with all the pigs? Dogs and cats are cute, of course, and naturally lend themselves to animated story lines. And if they’re slightly snarky (viz a viz Garfield) they’re even better. Bears are cute. If you don’t smile at Pooh’s never ending quest to find more honey, well, you’re taking life way too seriously. Monkeys are cute (and curious, if their name is George). Ducks and bunnies are cutie-pie no-brainers. Even mice can be made more appealing in the world of animation.
Have you ever seen a pig live and in the flesh on a farm? Well, have you? Cute is the absolute last word you’d apply to a pig. Pigs aren’t exactly the most respected animal in history (often being referred to as dirty, filthy, beasts and being taboo in more than a few cultures). Although, according to historical lore, the ancient Egyptians referred to the stars as piglets. Perhaps the first instance of the “cute”-ification of the pig. And in the Chinese Zodiac, the pig is the last of 12 signs, and is considered a lucky year to be born under.
Oh those lucky pigs (?)…
I’ll confess I really can not find a reasonable explanation for the many characterizations of cute in the form of a pig. Oh, hold on, it’s time for Olivia. I’ll do some more “research” and get back to you.