Little Boys are natural born killers (?)

January 8th, 2009 3:05 pm by Kelly Garbato

As a follow-up to Sunday’s disturbing series of ads for Hobie Kayaks (Truth in Advertising: Fishermen are stone-cold killers.), today I have an ad campaign for the Little Boys line of “gourmet” “sausage.” Apparently, this New Zealand-based company thinks that little boys are natural born killers.

Here we have two mischievous little rubes, about to decapitate a helpless chicken:

Little Boys - Chicken & Herb Sausages

Or, in the words of The Inspiration Room, “One boy with a chicken and herbs, the other with a small axe. What possibly could they be up to next?” Such inappropriately cutesy language to describe animal abuse, dontchathink?

For Act II, the duo of psychotic pranksters have set a snap-trap made of of nails for a hungry duckling:

Little Boys - Duck & Porcini Sausages

Observes TIR, “The boys have laid a trap for the duck, using mushrooms as bait. It adds up to Duck Porcini.”

Finally, they prepare to blow Bambi to high heaven with some sort of homemade fireworks. Charred chunks of deer corpse, anyone?

Little Boys - Smoked Venison Sausages

TIR says, “One boy holds a cigarette lighter while the other prepares to smoke the fawn below. It all adds up to smoked venison.”

Oh, what clever advertising! Well, except for the overworked stereotype of “boys will be boys, and boys will be cruel, and isn’t that just adorable?” That’s more or less been done to death…no pun intended.

Of course, cruelty isn’t a phase that little boys grow out of. Quite the contrary; oftentimes, they move on to larger targets, such as their partners, spouses, and children. In extreme cases, they grow into the next Jeffrey Dahmer or Kip Kinkel. (See, for example, Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, and Animal Abuse: Linking the Circles of Compassion for Prevention and Intervention by Frank R. Ascione (1999); Cruelty to Animals and Interpersonal Violence: Readings in Research and Application by Frank Ascione (1998); HSUS First Strike; and The Lantham Foundation.)

And even if they don’t, suffering is suffering, whether it’s experienced by a deer, a duck, a pig, or a human. Unnecessary cruelty isn’t cute – it’s wrong, immoral, unethical. Certainly, it shouldn’t be used as “humorous” advertising fodder.

The “What are little boys made of?; Snakes and snails, and puppy-dogs’ tails”* gender role, harmful enough in and of itself, also has a corollary: “What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice, and everything nice.” Just as boys (men) are naturally devilish and cruel, women are naturally sweet and submissive. Men hurt animals; women empathize with them. Men consume animals; women are animals to be consumed.

Hence the inclusion of these ads in my Animals & Women set. While not as obvious as sexxxy meat, the Little Boys series exhibits an intersection of oppressions. Just as surely as child/boyhood violence against animals is trivialized, so too is the subsequent (though by no means inevitable) adult/manhood violence against marginalized humans, such as women and children. The former is excused, paving way for the latter. As long as we have a strict gender binary, in defining boys/men as vicious and abusive, we set up girls/women as weak and subservient, ripe for abuse.

Here, the lot of non-human animals and women is a shared one. We all live at the mercy of “little boys.” Little boys with big guns, bags of money and the power of privilege.

Happily, unlike the Hobie Kayaks ads, there is no truth in advertising in the Little Boys campaign. If little boys were to “do what comes naturally” – rather than “do what comes from socialization” – then most little boys wouldn’t derive pleasure from beheading birds or torching Bambi. If these little boys were aware that their sausage is made from the decayed corpses of many different animals – animals they marvel at in the park, pet in the zoo, even chase in the backyard – then they might very well give up meat on the spot. Little boys – little kids – are wise like that.

It’s not that little boys are naturally cruel; it’s that big boys snuff out their natural sense of compassion.

As an interesting aside, I also recommend SEXUALIZATION AND ADULTIFICATION OF YOUNG CHILDREN OF COLOR at Sociological Images.

Lisa writes,

In her book, Bad Boys, Ann Ferguson argues that while white boys are seen as naturally and innocently naughty, black boys are seen as willfully bad. This is possible because teachers attribute adult motivations to black, but not white, children. Ferguson calls this adultification. Essentially this means that many teachers and other school authorities see black boys as “criminals” instead of kids.

Which makes me wonder – would this ad be considered such harmless fun (by carnivores, not moi) if, instead of two Caucasian boys, it depicted two boys of color about to torture animals in the name of gourmet meat?

* Incidentally, I’ve never understood why the “puppy dogs’ tails” in this rhyme is supposed to be a negative – tails are cute, dammit! Especially puppy dogs’ tails! Have you ever seen a whole-butt doggeh wag and not melted like margarine?

And, while we’re at it – wtf is wrong with snakes and snails?

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