Saturday, March 31, 2007

Happy Feet

There are some interesting issues in the movie happy feet, bounced off of March of the Penguins.

Sexual Selection:
The main character in the movie is born into a group of penguins that use singing to attract mates. That sounds pretty absurd, until we think about what the singing represents: fitness. Just as insecure men buy status symbols to attract gold diggers and inflate their importance in modern society, emperor penguins display their fitness through singing. It is a great indicator. Someone can only sing if they already have enough energy from food to expend on a useless activity. That's the essence of a fitness indicator-it is a USELESS display of excess survival value.

“Why should a man give a women a useless diamond ring, when he could buy her a nice big potato, which she could at least eat?...The handicap principle suggests that prodigious waste is a necessary feature of sexual courtship.”

There is also another interesting issue that the movie brings up: runaway sexual selection. The main character gets lost and ends up in a different tribe, where they use stone collecting to attract mates (another fitness indicator-obviously a male must be in good shape to be able to waste time collecting stones. The alpha male of the tribe had a gigantic pile and also a crowd of women penguins fawning after him.)
Anyway, this demonstrates that within the same species, even slightly disparate enivronment (here, access to land) can radically change a group's tendencies, due to polygynous matting patterns that exaggerate sexual preferences.

Another issue. The penguin was ostracised because the village elders believed his heretical dancing scared the fish away and caused a famine, displeasing the penguin God. Sound similiar to religion? The more we learn about the world, the less we need religion to explain life's mysteries.

And finally, we have the issue of predators. How we sympathize with the prey in movie after movie, yet we still continue to eat meat? How long will it take for our society to progress to the next level? Not while we think the concept of human is sacred, and begin to accept all living beings as having value. Just because we believe dogs have a right to live doesn't mean that they live at the same standard as humans. What it does mean, is that a dog should consume the level of satisfaction he creates in society. If the dog makes a rich guy so happy that he is willing to spend 1,000 a month on him, great.

But no animal should be a slave. No living being should exist whose life is not an end in itself. Conscious creatures matter.

And of course this movie has to deal with environmental destruction. What I think, personally, is that all humans with an IQ above 90 should eventually either live in small communities built through skyscrapers, or leave the planet and live on the moon. If all the humans on the planet had an IQ average of less than 90, then eventually technology will collapse and society will resort to its stone age conditions, and life will go on on earth. No more endangered species or global warming. And we will advance as a species.

The most interesting scene in the movie was when the pengiun banged his beak against the wall of the zoo enclosure. It kept zooming out until the earth was a speck.

Just keep that in mind. A speck-that's all human history. Can we change that?


Anonymous said...

Demonstrations of fitness are NOT useless. Fitness is important to producing and/or raising physically and emotionally FIT offspring who can survive and pass on DNA.

That's why women dress to show off their bodies (my womb is fit to bear strong children) and guys flash their status symbols (I am strong enough to protect and provide for children, or at least give you a shot at producing children who are as strong as me if I fuck you and dump you).

You are correct that demonstrations of fitness are a waste insofar as the effort expended is not going directly towards the offspring.

However, when people produce offspring, most will not waste effort and invest energy into their children: mothers get fat because they'd rather spend their energy raising their kids than dieting to squeeze into miniskirts, fathers will get a minivan instead of the chick magnet car, money is diverted to college funds and a house in the 'burbs for the children, and so on.

Society does ascribe to your "waste" ideology when, for example, a mother continues to dress sexy and go out to clubs or a father continues to spend money on his status symbol toys instead of his children. Society will label those parents as unfit or immature.

You need to get out of your head a bit instead of dwelling on these things. A hot chick may not be able to grasp these ideas, but her biology intuitively knows what is correct and in her evolutionary best interest. Talking about these things with chicks is unattractive.

TabooTruth said...

Useless in the sense that it does not have survival value outside of its reproductive advantage.

Once people produce offspring, they no longer have to worry about attracting mates, so don't need to invest in reproductive indicators. The parents still want to send their kid to a high status school, still want fancy vacations. What do you think competing with the Joneses means?

I think there are many responsible parents who are admired in society but who still continue to spend massive cash on status symbols. There is serious waste.

"You need to get out of your head a bit instead of dwelling on these things. A hot chick may not be able to grasp these ideas, but her biology intuitively knows what is correct and in her evolutionary best interest. Talking about these things with chicks is unattractive."

Uh, yeah, that's my point: that attractive, unintelligent women are slaves to the sexual selection programming in their brains and aren't really attracted to men who can speak intelligently about evolution, but are dominant and suave. Not sure what you are referring to in my post.