Friday, May 8, 2015

Do Animals Have A Sense of Humor?

We seem to find animals speaking particularly funny as evidenced by and The first link is constituted of pictures of animals with corresponding text post that imagines the animal's speech, usually mimicking commonly recurring types of people and situations in our current society. The use of the animal allows for heightened satirical depiction, highlights and offloads human stupidity onto the animal. The second link is the formulaic meme of animal centered in middle and inane, sardonic text in capital letters. There are so many versions of this! To name a few, Can i haz cat, grumpy cat, bad joke eel, socially awkward penguin, lame pun raccoon, sad frog, rape sloth, confession bear, insanity wolf, advice duck, gay seal. There are a few human characters included in the subreddit too, and it's bizarre. We've got scumbag steve/stacy, good guy greg, overly attached girlfriend, back luck brian, derp guy. They do not represent a particularly talented subset of the human strata. The humans included are generally stupid, or make absurd decisions, display some lack of rationality. I suppose animals must make poor decisions. Their decisions are comical, for their lack of reason, the almighty quality of human. And we love watching it. We glee from our superiority. Animals acting violently or irrationally or comically as entertainment isn't a novel concept. And/but I suppose we do this for human beings too. Do not forget that we certainly watch animals acting cleverly too.

In most of these animal jokes, we have given animals tropes, perhaps not arbitrarily. Do we "anthropomorphize" them based on human characteristics that are the most similar to their behavior? Or perhaps certain people have an affinity for certain animals, and animals adopt the humors of their owners in our conceptions of animals. Paul Ekman derives the seven basic emotions from facial orientation, and we simply attribute emotion to animal faces based on these orientations. It is universal, cross-culture. Are emotions produced in animals because they have these emotions or are they produced magically?  I joke. It would be a waste, to speak, to produce a gesture, which has no meaning. They are not puppets with a master providing the energy to move. They move their face because they are trying to communicate to their peers, to us, to themselves.

Are emotions learned or are they biologically determined? In Charles Darwin's Expression of emotions in man and animal, he goes to say that emotions were biologically determined, designed by the hand of evolution, and universal to human culture. Have they not evolved in animals? But emotions can be learned you see: this is the basic idea of culture and I think to be honest culture is an umbrella term for everything that can be considered human thought or production. If you focus on the latter, there is an entire science dedicated to the management of goods. Animals don't have any economics because they do not produce goods. But do they have civilizations which advance culture and consequently emotions?

Well I end with this: Do these jokes seems to derive humor from a shared conception that animals are not capable of humor? Do animals have a sense of humor? Certainly they laugh. We have seen parrots saying rather snarky things. But it could be misappropriated. Like laaughing at the joker..they can deceive..

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