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Alien Pets

Mar 17, 2010


Dave (UK)
almost nine years ago

He wouldn\'t be a poof, he\'d be a \"Fag\".

Wasn\'t Jabba\'s pet some scrawny little thing? Most of the time the pet is a marketing gimmick. End of...

Crescendo
almost nine years ago

Big Dave, you say that a reptilian alien species would think that our pets look like us, but what if the pet in question was in fact a reptile such as a lizard or snake?

Furthermore, saying that we share physical similarities with our pets (face, two eyes etc.) is not really the point. It\'s more about the perceived disposition of the pet in comparison to its owner. Aggressive people often do own aggressive pets, but it is not universal. Although I did qualify my position by saying that superficial behavioural similarity is often appropriate and even desired for telling certain kinds of stories, you essentially prove my point anyway when you say of a certain type of man that, \"you can bet they\'re not the owner, unless there is something really strange about them.\" Right! This is a chance for character development, and this is where the creative process often falls short. The perceived incongruity between the owner and the pet immediately raises interesting questions. Does this Biker own this perfectly groomed poodle?? If he does, what it say about him, what story is there to tell? If he doesn\'t, why is he walking the poodle to begin with? Does he have a sick family member? Is he using a dog walking business as a front for illegal activities? Does he enjoy pampering something after stomping on faces all day? Or does he hold the philosophical belief that animals are innocent, whereas people are guilty and deserve the abuse he doles out?

In most television shows and movies what you see is what you get. When it comes to pets there seems to be nothing more than the superficial and tritely intuitive trope of like owns like. And that\'s a missed opportunity, even if it is a relatively minor one.

Big Dave (OZ)
almost nine years ago

I wasn\'t picking holes in your ideas, just looking from a different perspective. I was only using reptilians as an example, probably a poor choice. If the life form was silicone based, they would probably have silicone based pet, and they would appear to be very similar, to a non silicone life form. The 2 eyes 2 ears similarity is just based on evolution, it was dominant, a dog evolved on the predator planet may have the same mouth as a predator, as they may share an evolutionary ancestor.

http://www.freakingnews.com/Predator-Dog-Pics-33079.asp

As to what a reptile would think of us having snakes or lizards for pets, probably the same as when they have monkeys for pets, maybe that\'s what we are anyway, LOL.

If I saw a biker with a poodle, I\'m still not going to call him a poof.

Crescendo
almost nine years ago

Thank you for your followup Big Dave.

I agree that the owner and pet would likely share a common ancestor (unless this is a sci-fi movie where the owner has tamed a pet from another world), but that doesn\'t mean they have to have similar dispositions. Evolutionary speaking a rabbit and a wolf are closely related to each other, but one is a more aggressive carnivore, while the other is more timid herbivore.

\"If I saw a biker with a poodle, I\'m still not going to call him a poof.\"

I\'m on board with that!

Crescendo
almost nine years ago

I think that this trope is an artefact of the creative process, or more accurately, lack thereof. Rather than using the pet as means for plot or character development, it is instead designed to be as shallow and simple as possible to make it easily digestible for the audience. Whether this shallow design is intentional or not is debateable.
Unless writers and directors make conscious decisions to use pets as devices for true plot and character development, I think you will always see this kind of trite pet analog. I would be surprised if most writers and directors even realise they are doing it. If they do, they seem to either lack creative talent and intelligence, are trapped by populist bean counting , or are cynical enough to allow it.
Your Predator and Worf examples are good. The idea of an aggressive species having aggressive pets is intuitive in a superficial way (naturally superficiality is often appropriate and even desired, but that is neither here nor there). The audience of course swallows it without question, but it is also persuasive to writers and directors for reasons explained above. The burden here lies with the writers and directors. Unfortunately the audience provides little motivation for change— observations like yours only arise when a viewer expects intelligence and the application of logic in sci-fi (or any genre for that matter).
So kudos to you, Joe. Although this could be justifiably characterised as a nitpick, it is a symptom of an underlying disease. As it stands, the mainstream media\'s M.O. is the equivalent of a no child left behind policy, which of course really means that every child is left behind. The sad thing is I can\'t blame them. We eat the shit they feed us, and then we happily regurgitate it back to them.

Big Dave (OZ)
almost nine years ago

I think I will take this away from the creative failing side of the argument. If you look at it from an evolutionary point of view, our pets do somewhat resemble us, 2 eyes, 2 ears that have skin flaps hanging off our heads, 4 limbs, 1 pair more dexterous than the other, one mouth with teeth and a tongue, some of us have hair covering our bodies like them. To an alien species, say a reptilian, our pets may closely resemble us. Alien pets would have followed a similar evolutionary path as their owners, so would have similar traits.

Looking at it another way, large aggressive men tend to have large aggressive pets, usually dogs. Occasionally you will see large men walking poodles or Mexican rat dogs, but you can bet they\'re not the owner, unless there is something really strange about them.