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The Inclusive Vision

Essays in Honor of Larry Gross

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Edited By Paul Messaris and David W. Park

Larry Gross is one of the most influential figures in the history of media studies. In this collection of original essays, his former students reflect on his groundbreaking contributions to three major developments: the emergence of visual studies as a distinct field of media theory and research; the analysis of media fiction as a symbol of power structures and a perpetuator of social inequalities; and the growing scholarly attention to the relationships between mass media and sexual minorities.

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12. The Thread of Concern: Wildlife Films, Art, and Representation (Derek Bousé)

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12. The Thread of Concern: Wildlife Films, Art, and Representation

DEREK BOUSÉ

Wild animals and motion pictures have always been a good match—the bigger the better. The acclaim in recent years received by such big-screen wildlife spectacles as Kedi (2016), Monkey Kingdom (2015), Bears (2014), Chimpanzee (2012), The Last Lions (2011), going back to March of the Penguins (2005), might make it hard for some audiences to recall a time when wildlife films were the exclusive province of television, where, in the words of the philosopher Dangerfield, they got no respect. Yet the years spent on the small screen (when it was still small) were a time of great ferment for the wildlife film genre. Storytelling models were finely tuned, new themes were explored, techniques were perfected, technology improved, budgets increased, and, above all, the audience was greatly expanded.

All of this went on right under the noses of scholars and critics, yet somehow escaped their notice. The Cinema Studies world had barely ever acknowledged the existence of wildlife films; genre theorists, in particular, had ignored them altogether. Even in the broadly based world of Media Studies, which had long been more television-friendly, the same held true. Soap operas, sit-coms, mini-series, music videos, animated cartoons, and even talk radio had all begun filling the pages of communication journals, but wildlife films, despite a growing global audience, continued to be overlooked.

Such was the state...

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